Gerry Foster - Branding Evangelist

Hi, I’m Gerry aka The Branding Evangelist
and welcome to my home on the web!

As a Brand Strategist, I help small business owners create a world-class brand that can generate more sales & passive income over time.

As creator of the Big Brand Formula, I give YOU the playbook that enables you to chart a bold new path to making more money by giving yourself the ultimate advantage in the marketplace.

If you’re just getting started with branding (or need to strengthen your current brand), building your online platform, or ready to level up your marketing and scale your business to the next plateau … you’re in the right place!

Who Am I?

Big Branding Guy, Speaker, Trainer, Coach, Creator of The Big Brand Formula, USC Grad – BS & MBA Degrees with Honors, Midwest Born-And-Raised, Motown Music Aficionado, Jazz Lover, NBA Fan, Cat & Dog Person, Solid Values, Strong Work Ethic, Excellence-Driven, Upbeat, Kid-At-Heart, Bon Vivant and All-Around Nice Person!

This is NOT my formal bio. If that’s what you’re looking for, please click here.

How I Became
The Branding Evangelist …

Here’s how it happened!  I now know why I preach & teach big branding the way I do.  It all has to do with Motown music.

Midwest raised, Michigan made, I grew up in Detroit during the golden age of what’s known as “The Motown Sound.”  It’s been called the ‘music that changed America’ and the world beyond it!  A great example of the American Dream.  It taught us that what unites us will always be stronger than what divides us.

  • Unlike anything listeners had ever heard, the Motown Sound originated from and jumped out of an independent record label – a hit factory started in a small Detroit house – called Motown Records
  • Motown was the iconic, genuine sound of 1960s pop, R&B, and soul music that spanned across the globe and defined American pop music as we know it today
  • Not only did the Motown Sound help define the Sixties, it’s considered as perhaps the most influential, culture-changing music of the 20th Century.  A stamp on society that will never ever be forgotten (more on that further down).

Backstory:  Old Detroit was Special

Raised by both parents on W. Boston Blvd. within an historic neighborhood (the Boston–Edison Historic District) located in the center of Detroit about 2 miles from Hitsville U.S.A. (Motown’s first headquarters), I grew up in the long shadow of the Motown era.

Its impact and influence were profound. The Motown brand – whether you were Black or White – seemingly reflected the hard work and dedication of the so-called ‘common man.’

In many respects, Motown music reflected Midwestern values.  “An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.”  Fundamental American qualities like being friendly, family-oriented, and lending a helping hand.  Gratitude, humility, and down-to-earth go a long way.

  • The Motown brand knew what being in love and what falling out of love felt like, and how you must always treat other people with respect (women in particular, never shame or dishonor them)
  • For your word is your bond, actions define your character
  • Your name and reputation is your most prized possession

Music Royalty

For some reason, I’ve always enjoyed songs about overcoming adversity, hard times, challenges and perseverance; even injustice if I could dance to it.

  • I can remember as a boy hunting for vinyls (45 or LP) at the local neighborhood record store on 12th Street & Calvert
  • The distinctive, irresistible melodic sounds from Motown artists were always playing on my transistor radio or record player
  • Yet a real treat for me was to watch up-and-coming music legends on my little black & white television such as The Miracles (led by the multi-talented Smokey Robinson), The Supremes (featuring Diana Ross), and a true pioneer by the name of Little Stevie Wonder (a child prodigy as he was then known)

And my all-time fav The Temptations – the emperors of soul.  I’m talkin’ about the group’s original members, the so-called ‘Classic 5’ lineup (David Ruffin was one of the lead singers – think My Girl), renowned for their smooth harmonies and intricate choreography.

  • OMG!  Can’t leave out other great Motown artists like Brenda Holloway, Kim Weston, The Contours, and The Marvelettes!!`
  • LOL!  To this day, I still have an original 45 vinyl of My Girl on my home-office-bookshelf that I bought at the record store on 12th street

Nothin’ Like the Motortown Revue

One of my fondest memories as a kid was enjoying the Motown package concert tours.  My mom would take me to Detroit’s crown jewel and most celebrated top performing arts center, the Fox Theatre.

  • There I saw an annual touring show called The Motortown Revue that started at the dawn of the 1960s
  • For only $2 (compare that to concert ticket prices today), one could enjoy a caravan of 45 Motown performers – a package tour – who traveled on the road by bus from city to city
  • The first Revue was 94 one-nighters (unthinkable in our NOW music industry)!!

Berry Gordy, the sole visionary and founder of of Motown Records in 1959 (a Big Brander for sure who, as a young working songwriter with an $800 family loan, was inspired by a grand creative vision to “create music that everyone would enjoy”) decided the Revue was the best way to market his artists even in the still segregated, Jim Crow South.  Mr. Gordy and every artist insisted on dignity.

Detroit folks like myself got to see the entire galaxy of Motown stars at the Fox Theatre and experience the magic.  Little did I know that these Revues would lead to something ground breaking and revolutionary across the entire United States, and other countries including the UK and France.

  • During my teenage years, I even became my mom’s designated date when she wanted to see a Motown artist in concert somewhere in Detroit
  • Nightclubs excluded, of course, as I was underage
  • Although I did manage, however, to sneak in with my high school girlfriend to see Gladys Knight & the Pips at a popular bowling alley and night club called The 20 Grand

The Thrill of it All

Not getting into clubs wasn’t that big of a deal as every year my dad would take my older brother and me (he passed away as have my parents) to the annual Michigan State Fair on Woodward Ave.

  • There I got to see even more Motown stars.  The Four Tops, Mary Wells, Tammi Terrell, Jr. Walker & the All Stars, Martha and the Vandellas, The Spinners, and The Isley Brothers, just to name a few
  • And, in 1969, I saw and jammed to a new Motown group called the Jackson Five (featuring a little kid named Michael Jackson).  Wow!

In my eyes, there was nothing more thrilling than enjoying a Motown song.  Golden, honey-infused voices that Berry Gordy created, define ‘soul,’ and grew his company into places which he didn’t know he could take it. Think of another Motown legend, Marvin Gaye, and, in later years, Lionel Richie, Rick James, Boyz II Men, and Ne-Yo.

The Music in my Blood

The music was passionate, romantic, groovin’ & movin.’  It was the kind of music that made me fantasize about being a pop-star.  It became about uncovering the power of my voice and what it means to blacks, whites, and anyone I’m serving.

The point I’m making is simply this:  Everyone has different musical tastes.  You may not listen to what I listen to.  And I may not listen to what you listen to.    If you have an appreciation for that, whether you prefer rock, country, classical … whatever your music tastes or preferences might be … evvvvvvyone loves ‘a great song’ and knows a good tune when they hear one.

To this very day, every time 
I sing in the shower, my car, or anywhere else out of harm’s way
I get to escape to my magical world of Motown!

My mom said I was meant to perform on stages one day.  And yes, of course, I AGREED.  After all, deep down inside, I AM A TEMPTATION!

The Connection

To put this in big picture perspective, despite differences, historically in the U.S. blacks and whites have found ways among other things to:

  • Fight wars together
  • Compete in sports together
  • Do business & politics together

The Motown brand – upbeat, uplifting, and unmistakable – was about ‘togetherness.’  It was vital, unifying music in the midst of a 1960s and 70s fragmented, cultural fabric that brought soul and pop together like never before.

  • The brand helped unite blacks and whites in a racially divided country and segregated society (not just in the South)
  • Berry Gordy brought an exciting sound, written and performed by black artists, to the record players of white teenagers who just could not get enough of that style of soul music with a pop influence
  • It’s amazing what Motown music would do.  A certain chord was struck.  A certain note was hit.  A certain pitch in a voice.  A certain emphasis on a word that just hit you dead-on in your heart.

You must understand, the 60s were turbulent!  It was an era of assassinations, murders, race riots, schools and even kids being burned!  There were police-guarded ropes that divided the performance halls, blacks on one side and whites on the other side.

  • Yet the music of Motown was growing in the hearts of everyone against all the odds
  • It was as if all-of-a-sudden ropes started coming down
  • Blacks and whites began dancing together, mingling and having fun

Dancing in the Street!

Side by side, they enjoyed the music!

  • Even the old and young
  • The Motown brand became a blend of soul and pop many called ‘the voice of hope’ … countless love songs and songs of faith, peace, and beauty … that shaped the sound of popular music for decades to come
  • It certainly was for me … and millions of other people

Not too shabby for Mr. Gordy who became a major force in the music industry during the mid-60s.  I have to chuckle as he also once said, “I just wanted to make some music.  Make some money.  Get some girls.”

  • But he added, “It was not me.  It was the magic.  And it became a brand!”
  • Furthermore, “It brought emotional integration to a lot of people”
  • He put fairy dust on black culture that had never been seen before and made Motown music palatable and chic to many races. It was a fairy tale that came true.

Mr. Gordy strategically decided to market his brand as ‘The Sound of Young America.”  The impact of what branders like myself would call ‘his secret sauce’ was on ‘full blast’ when he also said, ‘I wanted to have a kid off the street walk in one door unknown and come out another door a star, like an assembly line (at an auto plant); that was my dream.”

A Beacon of Light

The personal effect the Motown brand had on me was inevitable and inescapable. I suppose that’s what inspired me to become a professional  speaker, trainer, and coach and help small business owners around-the-world ‘find the rhythm’ of their brand! 

  • All of us united
  • Regardless of race, religion, sex, creed, political ideology, etc.
  • Sharing our hopes, wishes, and dreams

Make no mistake about it.  Motown music provided the score – the soundtrack – for my career in branding.

My True Calling

From San Diego to Australia to Dubai, with great pride I have dedicated my life to supporting owners.  I’m now known as The Branding Evangelist because of my passion, enthusiasm, and inspirational message.  This allows me to effortlessly and authentically connect with diverse audiences.

My Big Brand is entertaining, engaging, fun and informative.  What’s more, strategic branding is the only work I’ve done my entire adult life.

No Auditions Necessary

Since 1985, it’s been my honor and privilege to have assisted over 100,000 small businesses from over 600 different industries with their branding.  I’m regarded as a ‘true, bona fide brander.’  The real deal!

My joy and satisfaction are fueled by:

  • Teaching and equipping owners with Big Brand secrets used by titans of branding
  • Helping others to create a breakaway, ‘stand-alone’ brand that makes a difference and enables you to step into a new profitability cycle

The Early Years Were Rough

It wasn’t, however, an easy ride.  I discovered early on that the world has teeth and it bites!

Back to Motown:  I moved out of Detroit because I felt there were strives I could make outside the city limits that Detroit could not offer me.  So I moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at USC (University of Southern California) an elite private college known for academic excellence where I attended a top-rated business school (Marshall) housed at USCI graduated with two degrees:  BS & MBA with honors (cum laude), majoring in marketing with deep study in branding.

From there I successfully worked in corporate America.  But after I decided to go into business for myself, I went from a stellar 10-year corporate career to falling into a business abyss, to later emerging triumphantly as a big branding guy.  I will never forget the tough grind and the tough times.

  • Money was scarce to come by in those start-up years
  • Many times it seemed like I was Scotch-taping my way through getting sales
  • The sacrifices, scars, and stormy nights were plenty

Life Seemed to be Standing Still

I wondered if I was cut out for the trials and tribulations of self-employment.  My business was like ‘Gilligan’s Island.’  I kept showing up on the island in the same red shirt doing the same things and getting the same results.

I could never get any traction.  I would just continue to plug away, hope and pray things would somehow get better.

Awakened My Inner Power

Business acceleration occurred through discovering how to effectively brand, not just others, but myself as well.  I found my fire and my voice.  I stayed open to and followed spiritual direction, and took a stand on myself to ‘become who I was truly capable of becoming.’

As my life and business unfolded, I began to realize that the Motown brand inside me reminded me that I have the power to make changes.  All of a sudden doors of possibility & opportunities seemed to appear and open up at just the right moments.  I realized that I could make it on my own.

Luck, pluck, and ‘Gladiator’ survival skills played a huge role.

  • Along with a giant leap of faith, a bit of guesswork at times sure helped (never resorted to reading tea leaves) 🙂
  • Through it all, I always ‘kept my eyes on the prize.’

What Inspires Me

The programs I offer are the culmination of over 30 years of hard work, getting my hands dirty, and efficiently using the resources at hand.  Not to mention being focused, disciplined, and ambitious.  It all allowed me to discover my purpose and place in this world.

Let’s connect if you:

  • Dare to plunge into the emotional minefield and potentially treacherous waters of owning a business
  • Have the passion and purpose to forge ahead, risk failure, and proactively work on your dreams coming true
  • Bust your butt and understand it pays to persevere in a business world that at times can seem tough, unfair, and bruising in ways that you never thought possible

Well, my friend, your business no longer has to live in oblivion.  Regardless of what your personal story has been, let’s create your brand in ways consumers will fall in love with, cherish and value.  I want its light to shine brightly forever!

More about Gerry – click here to download full Bio

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