Our Brand Leadership Team
Our brand management and creative team includes a core in-house team of brand leaders, as well as fractional permanent team members around the world. Here are some of our core full time brand leadership team members, and some insights about each of them.
The Bar Setter
Some people reach for the bar and some people set the bar. Chris sets the bar in every aspect of his career. To say he’s talented is an understatement. Ask anyone who has been fortunate enough to sit in a brand or website reveal meeting with Chris and they will tell you that his ability to take nebulous imagery and obscure ideas and define them – to graphically articulate what has been rumbling around in the mind of a client – is remarkable. They will also tell you that his talent is only surpassed by his character. He corrects with kindness, leads with integrity and is deeply respected by everyone on our team.
Humble. Honorable. Exceptional.
As Creative Director, Chris is an essential part of our team. He’s responsible for overseeing all our branding, creative, communications and digital decisions. Whether developing creative strategies and directing creative work, to designing websites, print pieces, email campaigns, Chris’ experience and talents are noticed all across the country. We’re privileged that after more than a decade here, even with offers of higher salaries and bigger cities, he continues to be a part of The Brand Leader team. His humble spirit, honorable approach and exceptional talent are what each of us on the team admire about him and strive to emulate. Ok, enough with the gushy accolades. All true – but let’s get to know Chris’ “other side”. You know he has one…all the quiet ones do. It’s a bit surprising that someone so quiet and mild mannered can literally transform into beast mode at the start line of a race. Not just any race. An Obstacle Course Race. A run-through-the-mud-til-it-comes-out-your-eyeballs-then-climb-a-wall-and-maybe-through-fire kind of race. But, that’s Chris. Taking on any challenge and believing that nothing is too hard to accomplish. His focus and determination are unwavering whether running through 13 miles of mud pits or staring down the toughest graphic design challenge he’s ever encountered. Chris will never settle, never quit, never complain, and never once brag about it.
- Completed around 30 OCR races
- Has 2 kids who train him daily to be sure he’s ready for any obstacle course
Education and Experience that make him more beastly:
- Liberty University- B.A. Graphic Design
- Created & launched over 300 brands (we stopped counting at some point)
- Comes from a family of creatives and artists, giving him a slightly unfair but still acceptable advantage
We mean she literally runs the world. Jen doesn’t track steps; she tracks miles.
Jen’s a runner. Not the kind who runs errands and gets the team coffees. And not the kind who gets super motivated on NYE and makes an over ambitious resolution. Nope. She’s a real-deal, all in, no excuses runner. If you’re not a runner, here’s a few things you should know. Runners are intensely dedicated human beings. They train with purpose and intentionality – not just so they stay in shape – they train to improve in every area of strength, speed and endurance. They challenge themselves to push limits and reach new benchmarks—working to be better than the day before. Jen is a runner in every sense of the word. She helps set the pace for our team, challenging us to improve in every area. And she challenges our clients to strive for new benchmarks of excellence throughout every customer touch point of their brand.
Focused. Driven. Passionate.
As Art Director, Jen is designing, developing and creating brand elements from scratch, bringing new ideas and overseeing the design process to ensure each brand is on target with its audience. Whether at work or on the run, she’s focused on the tiniest details- even the ones you’d never see; driven to keep going and finish strong, and passionate about continually honing her craft and improving her skills.
When she’s not creating amazing designs or guiding clients on branding and design decisions, she spends her free time training, registering for her next race, and daydreaming about her next run. Oh, and she’s even chilled in a cryotherapy chamber after training—so you know she’s prett-y serious about this running thing. It sounds a little crazy to us, too… but it’s just the kind of crazy we like around here.
B.S in Graphic Design
Bob Jones University
Success In The Field
Created & launched 12+ brands
American Inhouse Design Award Winner
Magazines (BBB Q1 2017)
Completed 6 Marathons, over 15 half-marathons and more 5Ks than she can count.
Senior Brand Manager
A rare breed.
Bethany is a rare breed that we’re fortunate to have in The Brand Leader family. And, since the horse pun came right out of gate, we’ll ride it to the end. [Pause for effect.] Like all true horse people, her love for these animals began when she was knee high to a Quarter Horse. And, while Bethany believes her lifetime of experience has taught her to lead horses, we really think it has helped her lead clients. See these practical tips for leading horses. Just replace “horse” with “client” and we’ll discuss later.
Leading your horse will also help you better communicate with him. With time and patience, you’ll be able to successfully lead your horse and improve your relationship. Pressure is sometimes needed when leading a horse. Treats are always helpful to have on hand. Source: https://www.wikihow.com/Lead-a-Horse
Dedicated. Diligent. Productive.
As our Senior Brand Manager, Bethany is responsible for a client’s entire brand identity. She handles every detail – from market research to product sales – and she’s the go-to resource for information on clients’ brands and their competitors. In addition to her work incredible work ethic, Bethany embraces our clients completely, taking the success of their brand personally. And, while she’s been with us for nearly a decade, she still approaches each project with determination; leads every client earnestly and handles challenges with grace and grit.
- Loves theater, has seen (just a sampling): Phantom and Wicked (twice each!), Newsies, My Fair Lady, Riverdance, West Side Story, Lion King, Mary Poppins, Nutcracker, and…has managed to score tickets to Hamilton in 2019.
- She takes weekly riding lessons and owns a horse named Sassy Cassey
- Clemson University – B.A Communication
- Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me (NPR)
Director, SEO Best Practices
Always Game for a Challenge.
Tim claims he’s not competitive, but he’s not one to shy away from a challenge. He once watched a documentary on ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes and decided to run 18 miles the next morning without any prior training. He also ate 80 nuggets and two large fries during an unofficial eating contest at Chick-fil-A.
Well-rounded. Experienced. Strategic.
Tim tackles challenges daily when he helps brands rise to the top of search engine results. The best brands are made better when they’re found online. If you can’t get found, then you can’t succeed. Tim spent more than 16 years in publishing, launching hundreds of products nationally and internationally before starting tiptop, a digital agency specializing in SEO. He can quickly grasp the concept of a brand and create a digital road map to help them succeed online. Using SEO (search engine optimization) best practices Tim supports The Brand Leader team and clients to help them optimize existing sites and create a digital funnel for prospects. Whether start-ups or Fortune 500 companies, Tim has helped businesses of all sizes with their SEO, focusing on boosting organic search traffic.
He’s from Ireland yet never had Lucky Charms. He doubts they are magically delicious.
He has a pretty impressive box jump at 56 inches on a good day.
The Peaceful Warrior.
Like most yogi’s you know (because, who doesn’t?), Kate is one of the kindest souls you’ll ever meet. Calm, patient and able to stay intensely focused on the task at hand no matter what’s happening around her. But don’t mistake her peaceful demeanor for weakness. Kate will reveal her inner warrior when necessary (like, whenever our team’s chakras are out of line.) She keeps us all on track—making sure things get done right and on time—and some days that’s an especially complex job.
Consistent. Balanced. Reliable.
Kate is one of those people who can take the biggest of ideas, break it down into small steps, and then make sure each step happens on time. Some people are “detail oriented”, and some people are “Kate”. As a Brand Manager, she keeps track of each project assigned to her, communicates with every client and our team, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks. Her ability to remain consistent and reliable day after day, and still manage to keep up with all the details, shows that all those hours spent in the yoga studio have paid off. Kate is now exceptionally skilled at balancing multiple clients while standing on her head, with her eyes closed, in her happy place.
Outside the office, she’s the knower-of-all-things-Reality TV and can frequently be found binge watching anything with Real Housewives in it. Between episodes, she’ll either be napping, hanging out with her sweet Greyhound, Roxy, or in a hot yoga class practicing her Peaceful Warrior pose. Because it’s a real thing. You thought we just made that up, didn’t you?
Kent State University
Deserted Island Survival Item
A long book about murder, she says. We are so serious about that “warrior” part.
Writers are interesting – and interested – people. Something about the human experience itself evokes a desire to know more about all experiences and fuels a deep need to write about them. This is certainly true for one of our own writers. Meet Emily White, wordsmith. Inspired by complex ideas that are expressed clearly, she’s been curious about the world and everything in it since birth. She loves writing about anything that has an impact, and hates writing things laced with meaningless jargon. With every client, she seeks to know their true story and to write the core, the heart, of their message.
Knower of big words, small words and the right words.
Writers are important to any brand. They bring life to what your brand must convey to your audience. They help develop concepts and use the very best words to describe the visual elements of a product. Emily works closely with our team to craft messaging for blogs and case studies, print pieces and online ad copy. And, while she maintains a clear and consistent voice throughout, ultimately, her work results in a verbally compelling message. Per Emily, “You can tell people you have a great product/service or you can write a great case study and prove it.”
When she’s not writing for our clients around the office, you’ll find her in a place with a little background noise for distractionary focus…stereotypical places like coffee shops, the library, or one of our local establishments in downtown Greenville. She’s fascinated by legal writing and especially enjoys writing case studies.
- She really likes writing about finances. (We wonder about – yet, appreciate – people who enjoy writing about finances.) Fortunately, she also enjoys writing about cooking and travel, as well as creating short stories and comedies. This is also why we don’t question her financial fetish.
She and her husband Chris have written, developed indie screenplays for over a decade, so she’s been an invaluable eyes and ears on critical client video shoots and projects and works wonders and finding that “one of a kind” prop (or actor we need in a pinch!). Deserted Island Survival item: She says, “I’ve often fantasized about being on a desert island. Sounds like paradise, and I’m not sure I’d need anything. Maybe a Kindle with lots of books on it.” Writers. They just get curiouser and curiouser.
- Avid reader who enjoys works by doctors who became writers (Oliver Sacks, Chekhov, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Tolstoy, etc.)
Double major in English and Biology (she even considered going to medical school.)
CEO & Chief Brand Officer
Insight. Vision. Experience. Acumen. Drive. It’s difficult to stop word-listing for Geoff. So, we decided to throw in a couple of our favorite leadership quotes that best describe the guy who signs our checks. Ok, all jokes aside. There are lots of great leaders and bosses out there. We get that. But, we feel lucky to have someone at the helm who doesn’t just lead by example, but by engagement. Geoff has created a culture of collaboration and caring at The Brand Leader, believing his team is not just here to build brands – but to make life better, and more meaningful, for ourselves and our clients.
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” –Harvey S. Firestone
With over 30 years of experience succeeding, failing, and succeeding again, Geoff’s developed a sixth sense for brands. He’s involved in all aspects of brand development: Brand voice, design direction, messaging and campaigns that deliver results and grow businesses. And that’s where Geoff is literally and figuratively a boss. His insight and knowledge of business – from the fears and frustrations of CEO’s and CFO’s, to the internal shenanigans of marketing departments and PR firms– make him an invaluable resource and partner.
“The task of a leader is to get people from where they are to where they have not been.” –Henry Kissinger
He’s known for pushing boundaries and challenging mindsets. Geoff believes strong relationships are vital to success. That’s why he invests in what matters, leading his team and clients in a way that invests and inspires; challenges and corrects; encourages and expands. There we go with that list again. But we mean it. Every. Single. Word.
If he’s not in the office, he’s hanging with his family, trying a new restaurant or taking a walk in Downtown Greenville. taking an indoor spinning class trying to ride a stationary bike around the world, catching a movie all by himself, sneaking away to the batting cages, reading or ghostwriting a book, or planning the next family adventure.
- Geoff has a 1990 World Series Ring
- Born in Montreal, Canada – we have finally come to accept his love of poutine and hockey.
- Speaks 3 languages – English (northern + Southern fluently), French (semi-fluent, depending on the day) and Hebrew (spotty…But we know it’s a bad day if he’s cursing in Yiddish).
Jacksonville University – BA, Communications
Dot Connector Extraordinaire
Some people (aka, “clients”) have amazing ideas but for the life of them, just can’t express them in a way that makes it easy for others (aka, “designers and creative teams”) to understand. And if the client’s next big product launch depends on the effective relay of those ideas…well, good luck with that. Nebulous thoughts are difficult to convey. If only someone could help communicate these ideas with the people who can turn them into reality.
Enter: Stephen O’Bryan, Dot Connector Extraordinaire! Stephen’s gift for dot connecting isn’t limited to his ability to think all the way through a process; it also includes his unique ability to translate complex ideas and concepts from our clients and brand leadership team and share them with our graphic designers in a way that makes sense. Stephen’s background in art and design helps everyone end up on the same page and takes the guesswork out of figuring out the difference between what a client says and what they actually need.
Deliberate. Direct. Inquisitive.
As a Brand Manager, Stephen listens to his clients and uncovers their needs, wants, and ideas. In turn, he communicates that essential information back to our team of designers. He tracks every detail to ensure brand integrity and keeps a close watch on the all-important project timeline. Besides being a stickler for time-management, his talent for connecting dots and his mad translation skills keep everyone on time, moving forward.
When he isn’t playing Connect the Dots and interpreting “Clientese” at The Brand Leader, you’ll find Stephen outside doing some trail running, camping, or CrossFitting. He loves cooking meals from scratch, spending time with his family, and as a music lover, he can usually be found listening to some of his favorite musical genres like Indie and Folk.
Always backs into parking spots
Uber driver for The Brand Leader Friday lunches
Deserted Island Survival Item
“Just my family.” Aww, we think that’s sweet, but we’re going out on a limb here and say he’ll probably bring a big book of Dot-to-Dot as well.
Lead Front End Developer
“Probably a wizard but we can’t prove it.”
Very few people truly have that whole ‘right-brain’, ‘left-brain’ combo-thing. Johnathan Burgess is one of them. Coming from a design background, “Burgess” understands both the technical side of programming and the creative side of design and how the two work together. It’s a unique ability that he brings to our team, and even more unique that he’s really, really good at it.
Innovative. Adaptable. Maybe magical.
As our Lead Front-End Developer, he’s responsible for ensuring that the visual front end of a website looks exactly as designed and is glitch-free. He also makes sure a website has the same look and functionality across multiple platforms and devices. He’s unusually innovative when it comes to making designs play nice with programming – approaching each project with a creativity that typically doesn’t enter the mind of a developer, then programming those ideas into reality.
Burgess takes the creative ideas of our design team to his secret place of sorcery and comes back with absolute magic. We’ve seen it happen. One of the common challenges with designers and developers usually goes like this: Designer: “Dude. I have this really awesome idea to (insert really awesome but impossible website idea here).” Programmer: Dude! Did you tell the client we can do that? Because it’s not gonna work without a magic wand and a bajillion dollars.” Fight ensues. Insults are hurled. People get fired. No one has an awesome website.
Meanwhile…back at The Brand Leader…Burgess is our sorcerer in street clothes and a baseball cap. Look. We’re not saying what we’re not saying. We’re just saying we’ve never seen Burgess and Harry Potter in the same room together.
When he’s not crafting his magic at the office, you’ll catch him at home crafting beer. His love of the brewing process and mixing unusual flavors is only matched by his love of mixing programming and design. He’s an insatiable seeker of knowledge who is always learning new things in his industry and his hobby.
Top 3 Favorite Brews
- Brooklyn’s Improved Ol’ Fashioned
- Southern Tier’s Warlock Stout
- Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo
He says Pulp Fiction but we know the truth. (Hint: it starts with H and ends with Potter).
Deserted Island Survival Item
He says he doesn’t have one. Know why? Because he’s MAGIC! So obvious.
Brews his own beer
Education & Experience
- Clemson University
- Has built more websites than the entire developer population of Uganda (okay, we’re not positive about that one, but it’s a lot)
Creator of the Feels
As a Brand Developer, Zach builds the interactive experiences that make your website look – and feel – good. Like all of our awesome Brand Developers, he keeps his finger on the pulse of market and digital trends. A huge part of those trends, and what Zach loves most, is a little something called the UX Design, or “User Experience Design.” The user experience includes every touch-point of your client’s interaction with your company, services, and products, and it is always focused on the real-live person on the other side of the screen. Think of it like this…the information you provide on your website is the airplane ride your customers take to Hawaii. The user experience is how they feel throughout the process of getting there. Zach is here to make sure your customers have “all the feels.”
With a low tolerance for South Carolina humidity and a high tolerance for pain, Zach is an SC transplant from Michigan who still hasn’t quite adapted to our Southern summers or our state’s knack for giving us all four seasons in three days. But we’re happy to report, he’s a good sport and enjoying his own user experience here in the South. Bless his heart.
B.F.A. Graphic Design from Bob Jones University
6+ years doing large format design, marketing design, and web and software user interface design
Secret Life of Walter Mitty (mainly because of the horizontal design theme that runs throughout the film)
Currently: “Use kind words or be silent.”
Deserted Island Survival Item
The island is his item. After building a lot of crazy contraptions as a kid, Zach remains confident he could fashion a boat out of materials he scavenged on the island.
Married to his beautiful wife, Eunice. No kids (yet!)
Hobbies & Interests
Zach spends his free time honing his highly-detailed hand lettering skills and perfecting his ability to converse in nothing but GIFs. He also enjoys running, although he’s given up on trying to keep pace with Eunice and The Brand Leader’s Art Director, Jen.
Zach’s work has been published in “Ascenders Volume.1 | Leaders in Contemporary Lettering.”
Rich brings a style to The Brand Leader that is best suited for catchy headlines, one-line zingers, and taglines that stick. He’s quick on the draw and can skillfully churn out amazing copy in no time. Rich even has a knack for creating those dreaded, but uber important, email subject lines. Remember kids, if no one reads the invitation, no one’s coming to your party! Rich’s fast pace and quick wit combine to add one more creative tool to The Brand Leader shed, and we aren’t afraid to use it. His keen ability to grasp ideas and then put them into words – the very best words – allows him to describe the visual elements of products and concepts while maintaining a clear and consistent brand voice.
When Rich isn’t wearing down the keyboard, he’s spending time with his family, doing crossword puzzles (in ink!), listening to a podcast, or volunteering with a local nonprofit. He’s also a big fan of chatting with people over a great cup of coffee or beer. Pull up a seat!
Education & experience that makes him quicker and wittier
Rich earned a BS of Psychology from Liberty University and has been a freelance writer for nearly a decade, writing for clients ranging from local newspapers and national nonprofits to financial institutions and international hotel chains. Probably in ink.
With apologies to Dorothy Gale, there’s no place like home.
“Life is better when I assume people are doing their best.” – Brene Brown
Deserted island survival item
I would definitely take my family—because if we’re going to have a 360-degree beach, I’m taking credit for finally planning a family vacation.
Legal Counsel/Brand Defense
Trademarks and service marks. IP protection. Brand defense. Entrepreneur and industry advocate.
Regardless of the need, Doug has served as a trusted friend and resource of The Brand Leader’s senior branding and creative teams, as well as for many of our clients, for close to a decade. Considered as part of our team, he’s always just a quick phone call away for critical, timely advice throughout every step of our branding process.
Doug’s trademark and service mark practice serves many industries including: color management, aviation, healthcare, retail, food service industry, manufacturing, security systems, encryption, power plant maintenance, property rental, software development, nuclear engineering, nuclear waste processing, mattresses, golfing, gaming, photo film, and interior design.
Whether it’s creating a strategy designed to protect and grow a competitive advantage, create IP for licensing, or developing a strategy for the desired exit of a company, Doug’s experience has been an invaluable part of our team’s branding process, assisting numerous clients in protecting their brand, company, and advising them on critical steps in the interaction between the legal profession and their business.
Doug is also a trusted boardroom legal counselor, and passionate advocate for the individual, corporate, and academic client in a number of industries. Graduating with a B.S. in Physics and a computer software engineer for years, Doug went into law in 1998 to counsel companies regarding the protection and enforcement of their intellectual property rights and enhance intellectual property portfolios to increase company worth. By combining his business and technical experience with his legal training, Doug provides legal solutions and strategies tailored to every client.
Doug’s assist with contracts, corporate matters, intellectual property protection for domestically and internationally. He has experience that spans many industries including expert systems, Internet encryption systems, color processing, color calibration, manufacturing, nuclear power, medical imaging, healthcare providers, casino industry, automotive, automotive accessories, vehicle tires, computer networking, sporting goods, boats, kayaks and paddle boards, consumer goods, and the golf industry.
Awards and Recognition
- The Best Lawyers in America 2016-2019
- The Best Lawyer, Lawyer of the Year, Patent Law, Greenville, SC 2019
- Advisory Board Chair InnoVision 2008-2016
- Chairman South Carolina Bar Intellectual Property Committee 2018 to present
- Greenville Magazine Legal Elite
- South Carolina Super Lawyers
- United States Supreme Court
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- Federal Circuit Court of Appeals
- Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
- District of South Carolina
- Western District of North Carolina
- Middle District of North Carolina
- Eastern District of North Carolina
- Supreme Court of South Carolina
- Supreme Court of North Carolina
Working with Geoff and The Brand Leader team has been a truly transformational experience for me. The opportunity to work with so many motivated and creative people.
over the past 3 and a half years gave me a working example of what it can mean to manage with empathy, to grit your teeth and pull through in stressful times, to have each other's back and most of all, have fun while helping your clients. Geoff is always ready to listen and finds ways to bring out each person's gifts. I think the genuine concern for each person and the attention paid to the work makes The Brand Leader unique. Sure, not every client is going to love the work and as with any marketing agency they're not for everyone, but they will give you their best work to your face and when you can't see."
Jonathan Cover / CEO, Covers Consulting / Former COO of The Brand Leader