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Branding and Hybrids: Angela Ahrendts on the Power of Human Energy

2 minute read

“When you’re not forced to over think things it’s amazing the clarity that emerges and how rapidly you can adapt. Intuition is usually more right than wrong. Why is it that we value thinking over feeling?

“I am a little odd. I am what in our industry we call a 50/50. I am half right brain, empathetic. And I am half left brain, analytical.”

“I have always believed that my job was not only to create great brands but to create great companies. And have I believed that great companies could not only touch and transform lives, but need to, thought the power of their performance.”

Feeling is the great essence of authentic communication.

“People will never forget they way you made them feel.”

These are quotes from The Power of Human Energy TEDx talk, by Angela Ahrendts.

For me, this 10 minutes talk is a clear explanation of the huge gap between professionals and professionals that get what branding is. In a sense, you can use this video as a way to check your thinking on the subject. If you find yourself dismissing it as too abstract, fluffy or “non business”, then it’s likely you don’t understand what make brands work.
I’ve seen a few luxury and fashion companies rejecting agencies and designers because “they didn’t get the brand” and see the same agencies or designers walk away not understanding why. This is why. ;)

A brand is a lifestyle, is focus, brings everything together, is human energy, is trust. Branding isn’t a visual style, a metric or a market share number, but a strategy to get there.

Angela asks why we value thinking over feeling, and that’s the gap. She’s a hybrid, or at least, she understand the need of this mix of intuition and analysis. People dismiss things like values and creating powerful experiences, but these are the things that make people resonate. And no, these things aren’t measurable, and while they can become huge drivers of profit, there’s basically no way to correlate them. But you can see them when it happens.

It also explains why committees can’t design this, but at the same time people can get around an idea. That’s the same reason why I think that any design should have just one person taking the final decision, while at the same time being open to discuss it with the team and even customer if that’s the case.

Also, very interesting, is how she speaks about the alignment of a company internal culture and the output of it, its external values, its beliefs… its brand. I usually said that you can’t fake a brand, because people can feel it. And she’s saying exactly the same thing.