What Brands Can Learn from Gareth Southgate


For those that remember the World Cup of 1966, the Euro’s of 1996 and the scorching summer World Cup of 2018, we’ve been here before. In the group stages of this years delayed Euro’s, there was a worrying wobble vs our neighbours north of the border that left us all wondering, is it really coming home?

Yes, this time it really might be.

England’s manager – the waistcoat-wearing, gently smiling, softly spoken Gareth Southgate, has after years of disappointment and monotony, finally turned our national football team around. For the first time in what feels like forever, there is a genuine sense of togetherness, passion and determination emanating from the England team, and the country can feel it.

England FC have risen from the ashes, uniting a post-Brexit Britain that has for years felt divided and tense. Whether you love football or hate it, there is plenty that brands can learn from Gareth Southgate, his leadership, tactics and his general approach to his team.

Nalla’s own football fanatic, Design Director Jonny Davidson, explains below how brands can harness the Gareth Southgate energy and turn it into real-world action within their organisations.


“If you’re not constantly improving and learning, then you’re going to be stuck and not progress” – FourFourTwo

Embracing a constant learning mindset to fuel the pursuit of success.

A brand isn’t static. Fact. Audience behaviours change, so don’t keep rolling out the same old tried and tested formula. It’s important to understand your competition, study the landscape and not be afraid to evolve. Even if you’re the number one in your industry the competition will always be trying to take your place. So, to stay on top you need to keep aiming higher and ensure you never stay still.



“We are having success because we are really grafting for each other, we are really working. No passengers, nobody strolling around” – One Football

High performing teams are more than the sum of their parts.

On the football pitch, a player can’t succeed on their own, but great things can happen if an environment is created where others can flourish. Celebrating achievements and rewarding high performance drives internal teams to do more, and be better. Brands need a central vision, mission and values to set the guardrails for brand experiences and hero moments to connect and engage with their internal (players) and external (fans) audiences.



“The questions around us principally come down to character; the essential ability to withstand events that go against you.” – The Independent

Experience matters: deliver on your promise.

For brands to survive the test of time, you need to have a clear idea of your purpose and beliefs. Let’s call this a Brand Character Framework – customers will quickly be able to spot if a brand’s actions don’t align to its values and purpose. They’ll see straight through it, and you’ll pay the price for this further down the line. Remaining true to your roots will prove your authenticity and ultimately guide the decisions you make, whether it’s in commercial, ethical, or financial areas of your organisation.



“Sometimes you have to go through difficult times as a team, and failures, to learn and to improve” – Guardian

The past doesn’t have to define the future.

Gareth Southgate and the England team have shown that they can write their own history, and inject purpose and passion into their actions both on and off the pitch. The same can be said for brands (knowing when the right time is to rebrand), giving you the opportunity to cut yourself free from constraints that others place on you and face the future with confidence. Mistakes are there to be learnt from – hitting the refresh button should feel exciting, not scary.



“We’re a team, with our diversity and our youth, that represents modern England. In England, we have spent a bit of time being a bit lost as to what our modern identity is. I think we represent that modern identity and hopefully, people can connect with us.” – Guardian

Ensure your brand represents the audience it serves.

If you’re looking to emotionally connect with your audiences, you need to understand them. By getting as close as you can to their behaviours and actions, your communications will always be timely, relevant and meaningful. The better you can try to understand your audience, the more you will be able to connect on a genuine, emotional level – they must see themselves in everything you do.



“My job is to allow people to dream. Make the impossible seem possible.” – Sky Sports

Successful brands spark wonderment, optimism and possibility.

Southgate has successfully managed to generate an environment and culture that allows his staff and players to perform at their best – and have fun whilst doing it. Brands need to inspire customers to achieve something they could not do without their product or service – whether that’s creating their own professional website, through to enjoying a healthier diet. Discovering the emotional or functional benefit to the customer is the starting point of how you should communicate with them.


“Write your own stories.” – Huffington Post

Find your brand voice and unique character.

It’s ok to be the black sheep. Looking or sounding the same as the competition will either cause audience confusion or standout as an obvious piggyback brand, with a lack of authenticity and integrity. Brands need to uncover what sets them apart from others, to build a narrative and identity that will create a unique personality and experience for customers to engage with – being different is memorable, being the same is not.



“I am not sure I will ever wear a waistcoat again, frankly!” – Guardian

What signifies your brand?

C’mon, don’t lose the waistcoat, Gareth! You’ve built a unique and loveable trait not seen in previous England managers and it now represents who you are. The most memorable brands spend years developing a strong, unique and recognisable visual or verbal cue to let the audience know it’s them. An identifier that audiences can always relate back to your brand, reminding them of who you are and what you represent. Seminal examples include the Nike Swoosh, Virgin’s colour red or Intel’s sonic logo.


Whatever the outcome of tonight’s semi-final match (c’mon England!), we hope these points help you to embed some of the Gareth Southgate magic into your business.


Oh, nearly forgot to say, IT’S COMING HOME.