Byron Sweetman
Byron Sweetman

Say hello to our Head of Brand: Byron Sweetman

Say hello to our Head of Brand: Byron Sweetman

16 Feb 2024

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Tell us who you are and where you're based?

I'm Byron Sweetman — Head of Brand at Cue. I'm based in Cape Town but I grew up in Knysna.

Tell us about your journey at Apex and Cue

Prior to joining Cue, I was a fairly successful freelance sports coach and sound engineer. In 2018, I moved to Cape Town as a part-time hockey coach, looking to expand my career horizons. That only lasted a couple of months as the Summer came, and I was looking to continue building a career in marketing and establish myself in Cape Town.

I then found a marketing support internship at a company called 'Apex'.

I was the only candidate they interviewed who didn't have any qualifications. Two of our founders, Richard Nischk and Ryan Egnos, saw something in me that day, and I'll always be grateful for that fateful interview. What started as a 3-month internship turned into a full-time role as Head of Marketing.

In the first few years, I created every sales deck and asset that we had, started marketing on social media, recorded and produced podcasts, took yearly headshots, arranged staff socials, designed merch, and so much more. Being the sole marketer and designer in the business meant I was always the go-to for anything slightly creative or brand-related.

In the last two years, I started working a lot closer with our CPO, Rhett Trickett, on crafting a brand that we were actually proud to represent. A new brand that appeals to really good talent and big clients alike. It was through this process that my brand-building skills really shone through. After a discussion about the direction I wanted to head in, the team let me completely own the brand and just the brand.

Say hello to the Head of Brand 😉

Where do you get your creative juices flowing?

I work most days from my home office, but I go to the Cue office on Mondays and Fridays.

I find my creative juices flow when I am completely focused, have music pumping in my ears, and I'm free of distractions.

Byron sweetman

What's your go-to playlist and pick-me-up?

Well, now that it's summer and we're entering the hottest months of the year in South Africa, I rarely have an iced latte far from my reach.

Right now, I'm bumping my Amapiano playlist, 'Yanos don't know what we know' or my AfroTech/House playlist, 'The AfroTechHouse'. My 'To pimp a GOAT' playlist is also in regular rotation.

What do you do outside of work?

I LOVE listening to music and creating playlists, getting active, taking photos, exploring the Cape Town coffee scene, grooving at music festivals, watching and dissecting films, hanging out with friends, playing FPL (I'm the current champion of the Cue crew), hanging out in creative spaces, travelling, playing video games, and I would like to learn to DJ this year (because what the world needs right now is another DJ).

Since starting at Cue nearly 6 years ago, what has been your highlight?

There are way too many highlights to narrow it down to one, so I will try to limit it to three highlights:

1) Team growth: When I joined the company in 2018, we were 5 people, and we're now over 40. It's been awesome to be along for that ride and to see each other grow into different phases of life. It's really a special bunch of people.

2) Apex to Cue Rebrand: Last year, we merged our two brands into a single brand across multiple regions. This required months of planning and working alongside external and internal stakeholders on the brand identity, organisational structures, and public platforms. The rebrand went off without a hitch, and it's one of my proudest moments managing the brand.

3) Transitioning to Head of Brand: I've already told you about my journey from sole marketer to Head of Brand, so I won't bore you with repetition, but this transition has been so challenging yet equally rewarding.

Honourable mention: Getting to collaborate with illustrator, Bushy Wopp, on a mural and merch was also definitely a highlight.

Cue south africa

Was brand management always in your plans?

Since a young age, I have been fascinated with how my favourite fashion brands, sports teams, and entertainers brand themselves and how it influences the work that they put into the world. While I have always been fascinated, It wasn't always in my plans, I was in sports and music before getting an opportunity to enter the marketing game.

Brand marketing is made up of so many elements, but I think that my non-traditional route to graphic design and branding, eye for detail, willingness to learn, and style have made a big impact on the brand we are building.

You've travelled to Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Berlin - What was your favourite destination, and why?

It's a tie between Rome and Amsterdam for very different reasons. Amsterdam was my first international destination, so it edges in front.

I found the people to be very friendly and diverse. I got to see Takashi Murakami, Virgil Abloh, Banksy, KAWS, and Keith Herring's art in person which was mind-blowing. The language is familiar and easy to understand as I speak Afrikaans, I watched an Ajax football game at the Johan Cruyff Arena, and I saw Kendrick Lamar for the first time at the Ziggo Dome. It's also just an incredibly beautiful city with all the canals, trams, bicycles, and 'bitterballen'.

Byron Sweetman

You're a Liverpool fan, have you learned anything from Jurgen Klopp's management style that you apply as a senior manager at Cue?

You really picked an interesting time to ask me this question. I swear there aren't tears on my keyboard as I type this. There are two things I admire about Jurgen's management style.

Firstly, it's in Liverpool's style of football. Klopp is famous for his 'Gegenpressing' — a type of counter-pressing that puts the opposition team under pressure as soon as they gain possession. I love this energetic and determined fight to gain what's lost, never taking your foot off the pedal (or the ball).

Secondly, it's his leadership style. He leads with empathy and lots of energy, personal accountability, and emotional intelligence. All of these qualities are the perfect recipe for a good leader, healthy relationships, and high-performance teams.

Describe a typical day and week as Head of Brand?

My day starts with a very strong coffee and a ridiculously loud playlist. I'll check in on the to-do list and how I'm tracking the week's progress and then get started.

As a team, our week starts with a Monday standup with the founders.

I report on progress made in the last week, plot and commit to deliverables for the coming week, and discuss larger projects in the works. We then have smaller internal check-ins throughout the week.

I have recurring projects like building the website, creating our company catch up and kick-off presentations, maintaining the social media presence, collaborating with our content writer, as well as requests that pop up from sales, customer success, and founders.

What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?

I love that I get to create a brand that I'm proud of and to go about it with complete trust.

How do you stay updated with the latest brand trends?

I consume a lot of content from marketing gurus like Chris Do and other branding thought leaders, I tap into what's going on in the market, I attend webinars, and I'm also very influenced by brands and marketers outside of the tech space. There's a lot of reading, listening, and practising.

What skills and attributes does someone need to succeed in your role?

Attention to detail, ambition, criticalness, adaptability, and creativity.

How has the brand evolved to reflect Cue's growth?

When I joined the company in 2018, our tagline was 'Apex CRM: Innovative Mobile Marketing Data Solutions', when we were selling bulk SMS and a retail competition engine on USSD. A mouthful of notes. The brand was in its early days, a bit unsure of what it was, I smile (with cringe) when I see some of the designs I put out during those early days.

Today, our tagline reads, 'Say hello to faster customer service'. It's direct and human. Just like our business. It reflects the evolution of Apex to Cue. Our visual identity also reflects our utility and modernity.

I won't take credit for the new brand name either — that was our CPO, Rhett. During our formative years as Apex, we realised that all of our solutions were customer service-oriented and perfectly positioned to improve the dismal state of customer service. As a business, we want to help our clients Cue faster customer service, Cue faster payments, Cue faster integrations, Cue better customer experiences.

Cue recently rebranded from Apex to Cue. Can you share insight on how you settled on the branding elements?

We worked with a really good logo designer, and I built out the rest of the brand.

We were very intentional about selecting a vibrant colour palette, a primary brand colour that felt fresh yet familiar to clients and colleagues, and a language that spoke to our human approach to business. The brief for the logo was to create a unique message bubble that conveyed speed. We think we got it right!

What, in your opinion, sets Cue's brand apart from others in the industry?

I think that we have a clear and simple value proposition, a fresh and colourful visual brand, engaging content, and compelling values, and we put our money where our mouth is: incredible customer service.

How do you create a consistent brand experience across different touchpoints?

Internally, I go to great lengths to create guides and resources, instructional content within editable templates, and I'm not afraid to splash my digital red pen all over a Google Doc!

I often pull mockups of the brand from social media, the web, merch, and presentations. I then zoom out. literally.

This is a really great way to see if the brand is consistently translating across different channels. We also send out anonymous brand rating surveys to all crew members and clients. That feedback is super helpful.

For those aspiring to work in branding, what advice would you give them?

Become OBSESSED with how your favourite brands went about building and retaining market share. Stay up to date with industry happenings, expertise, and trends.

Describe the Cue culture in three words

Fast, friendly, and fun.

Cue is currently hiring, why should anyone want to work at Cue?

Unlimited leave... need I say more? Jokes! Well, we DO get unlimited leave, but that's just a perk.

You'll work with super-talented professionals who are also amazing people to be around. You'll join a company that is taking off in a BIG way. You'll be treated like an adult, supported when the need arises, and rewarded for your hard work.

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