Branding Person, Place Maker, Marketeer, Designer, Social Entrepreneur, International Speaker, Photographer, Writer, Cyclist but sadly not able to walk a tightrope…

Chris-Sands-PortraitI’ve done a lot of things in my working life. From working on a building site, to engineering, but the last 18 years have been focused on the branding and design world. Branding in its biggest sense. Not logos!

I’ve headed up a large team of designers and marketeers as a Creative Director of a Leeds Agency, but 7 years ago I decided I wanted to get back to working directly with my clients – bringing all the skills I learned working on big projects, but cutting out the layers of account handlers and bureaucracy that kept me from being hands-on with the client. And that’s what I love the most. Working directly with the customer, rolling my sleeves up and digging deep to find the best solution for the project.

A good brand project is about communicating the core of an organisation or business through words, stories, images, design, getting key messages across and providing a return on investment for the client.

And of course connecting with people who will love what you do.

I love a project with a social impact! I’ve done a lot of stuff like that!


Honorary Degree from Staffordshire University – in recognition for work supporting towns & communities with the Totally Locally initiative.

Winner of Economic Development Australia Awards 2016 – Best Marketing & Promotional Campaign for Extraordinary, Everyday Barossa.

Winner of APSE (Association of Public Service Excellence) Award  2013 – Best Community & Neighbourhood Initiative for Valley of Lights

Winner of the ‘Inspire Award 2013′ for Inspirational People of Calderdale

Winner of The International Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) Action Award 2010 for best marketing and branding strategy to increase vitality and viability into town and city centres.

Winner of The Government’s Yorkshire & Humber Making a Difference Award
For Outstanding Response to The Economic Downturn

Totally Locally Market – Winner of NABMA (National Association of Market Authorities)
Best Small Specialist Market Award  (in association with Brighouse Business Initiative)

Branding Work:

Full brands and campaigns for: Barnsley College, The South Pennines (place branding project), Totally Locally (founder), Stockton Riverside College, NETA Training, Craggies Farm Shop, Halifax Comedy Festival, Yorkshire Electricity Group, Leeds City Council, Breast Cancer Haven, Warner Music, Chrysalis Music, South Asian Arts, Calderdale Council, Barossa Regional Development (Australia), Calderdale College, William Hill, Sir Cliff Richard(!), Phoenix Dance Theatre and much, much more.


Totally Locally.  Valley of Lights.  Watermark Fund.   Totally Socially.  TownStock.

I’ve worked with many many towns on projects to help build resilient local economies, including creating specialist markets, social spaces, pop up shops, events, effective working groups and just getting people to go and do stuff for where they live.


Cumbria University – (Talk Creating strong Local Economies by Collaboration).

NABMA (National Association of British Markets) Annual Conference 2016 – Birmingham (Talk – How to create markets that have a positive impact on local economies)

Locality Annual Conference – Cardiff (Talk – How to save your High Street – let people get on with it!)

Place Leaders Association Asia Pacific – Adelaide, South Australia (Talk – You Are the “They” in “They should do something about that”)

Totally Socially – Scarborough – (Talk – Without the Aid of a Net!) – a workshop on big ideas, engaging communities, Totally Locally, Town regeneration, and anything the audience asked for on the day. Crazy but fun! Followed by getting people to tackle a real problem.

Planning Institute of Australia – Adelaide, Australia – (Talk – How to Engage Communities)

SeeAhead – various – Talk – Don’t be Beige! How branding can transform your business and Social Enterprise

Main Street Australia Conference – Melbourne, Australia (Talk – You Are the “They” in “They should do something about that”)

Adelaide Festival of Ideas – Barossa, South Australia (Talk – What do you want to do?  – no permission needed…)

TownStock – Halifax UK – Totally Locally Town Kit launch

Digital High Street Conference – Halifax – (Talk – How to Engage Communities)

Calderdale College – (Talk – All About The Brand- how branding can change an organisation).

Town Talks including:
UK – Leek, Scarborough, Crickhowell, Haye on Wye, Stone, Hebden Bridge, Helebsburgh,

Australia – Nooriupta, Anguston, Kapunda Barossa Farmers Market, Fleuria Peninsula, and loads more.


Daily Express (Britain’s best High Street)
How to Save Our Town Centres – Julian Dobson
BBC1, ITV, The Guardian, BBC Radio Leeds – for Valley of Lights (including Live broadcast)

Yorkshire Post – Totally Locally – Yorkshire’s Home Grown revolution   &  The Shops that have won their own Store Wars


My work has moved on in the last few years. Where once I did pure design for the likes of record labels, arts companies and businesses, it’s now moved into campaigns and branding for clients such as colleges, big organisations, towns and geographical areas.

A lot of my work is now centred around engaging communities to connect with a cause or organisation (see Totally Locally, Valley of Lights, The South Pennines & my many college branding projects).

It’s where I’m at and I love it!  To see a community do something great, just because they are given a bit of confidence and the stuff to make it work, is one of the most rewarding things ever for me. And it’s taken me to the other side of the world (Australia and New Zealand) working with communities, markets, cooperatives and more, and talking at conferences.

And check out one of my favourite projects, my book on Cycling culture in the South Pennines, which you can read about on here.

Thanks for visiting my site. I hope you like it, and take some inspiration away.