• Wo
Opinion

Opinion: A few thoughts on branding from the late, great Wally Olins

Posted by It's Nice That,

This week we are privileged to reprint some of the thoughts of branding legend Wally Olins, who died recently aged 83. Tributes poured in from across the creative industries after his death, made all the more poignant by the introduction to his book Brand New : The Shape of Brands To Come which was published only last month. He rounds off the book’s foreword saying: “I am writing about it all now, because I won’t be here to see it and listen to people telling me how wrong I was.”

And so with kind of permission of publishers Thames & Hudson and the Olins office, here we reprint some of the insights he shared at the very end of the same book. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

– However good an organisation looks from a distance, the closer you get, the more flaws you see. When you get bear enough, you find there are no good organisations. Internal politics, poor communication, bureaucracy and petty-mindedness exist absolutely everywhere.
– Where there’s strong, committed leadership, a branding programme will take root and become an intrinsic part of the institutional fabric. Where there isn’t, it will gradually disintegrate and all the organisation will be left with is an empty shell.
– There’s no such thing as a merger of equals. When one organisation merges with another, there’s always a winner and a loser.
– IQ is beating EQ. Right now in the permanent struggle between analytics and intuition, data is winning. But the wheel will turn. It always does.
– Facebook, Twitter, texts and all the technology will not replace human contact. You can’t have family Christmas dinner on Skype.
– Branding is getting too complex. The way branding is taught in business schools and the manner in which it’s mostly practised is unnecessarily complicated. Don’t let process drive it. Fundamentally, branding is easy to understand. Don’t make it so difficult.
– Great symbols – logos, the visual manifestations of the brand – tug at the heartstrings. That’s why national flags and religious symbols still have such immense power.
– Never underestimate the gap between national cultures.
– Don’t fake it. It always shows in the end.
– Don’t ever break trust.
– Be authentic.
– Corporate social responsibility isn’t window dressing. It’s an intrinsic part of what the corporation does, or should do.
– The more the world homogenises and globalises the more it provokes and inspires heterogeneity and individuality. That’s why creativity in branding will continue to flourish.
– You can learn much more from things that go wrong than from things that go right.
– Oh and one more thing. I’ve had 50 years of poking my nose into other people’s business… and I’ve enjoyed it; not all the time, but most of it.

Brand New : The Shape of Brands To Come published by Thames & Hudson is available now – you can buy it here.

comments powered by Disqus
Nice

Posted by It's Nice That

The It’s Nice That byline is used on posts that relate to the site in general, specific announcements or pieces where there is no clear single author. Contact us using the email address below if you have questions, feedback or complaints.

Most Recent: Opinion View Archive

  1. List

    We were pretty impressed with the new Airbnb logo when it launched last week, but for a different perspective, here’s Rob Mitchell from We All Need Words. He tells us why he’s had enough of “over-cooked brand stories masquerading as strategy” and as ever you can add your thoughts below…

  2. List

    In light of our recent changes and the launch of the new-look Design Observer, Rob Alderson reflects on design websites’ redesigns. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below, and we’re particularly keen to hear what you’re making of our new look!

  3. List

    This week James Cartwright wonders what the V&A is up to with its policy of “Rapid Response Collecting” and whether it really marks a shift in their curation policy. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

  4. List

    This week Rob Alderson considers the aftermath of the disastrous Robin Thicke Twitter Q&A and wonders how it was ever signed off when what was going to happen seemed entirely predictable. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

  5. Opinion-list

    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what makes a good group show. Are they really all they’re cracked up to be, or are they poised for failure? Tell us what you think of them and which you’ve been to that were especially brilliant or terrible in the comments section below.

  6. Main

    This week online editor Liv Siddall wonders if anyone actually enjoys the huge amount of wacky summertime events that are on offer in London. As always your comments and opinions are welcome below.

  7. Main

    This week, editor Liv Siddall gets excited about the upcoming ELCAF festival in London, and tells you all sternly why YES it is very important that we keep going to live events surrounding graphic arts and comics.

  8. Top

    This week Nat Hunter, director of design at The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (RSA) and a trustee of D&AD, welcomes awards being given to projects that make a real difference. It might mark, she believes, a fundamental shift in the design world. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below.

  9. Main

    This week our Editorial Assistant Madeleine Morley reflects on her four weeks at It’s Nice That but wonders if the fast turnover of creative content online is really a good thing. Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to join in the conversation below.

  10. Main1

    This week Apple turned down an application for an app that promotes female masturbation on the grounds that it’s inappropriate. Liv Siddall wonders whether, despite the criticism over the design of the app, that was really the issue here. As always, get involved with your own comments below.

  11. Opinion

    This week Rob Alderson looks at actors who were too good-looking for the roles they played and asks Hollywood to give viewers a bit more credit. As ever you can join the discussion below.

  12. Main

    Two years ago when this Opinion feature started, Rob Alderson wrote a piece about the rampant rise of the “must-see” culture; shows which the media’s frenzy makes you feel like you have to go and see. Hands up who found themselves queuing for the Bowie show at the V&A without knowing much more about him than just the chorus to Life on Mars? Me. Who queued bottom-to-crotch in the rain with about 1,000 grumpy pensioners to catch a glimpse of Hockney’s A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy? Also me.

  13. List

    We really enjoyed this year’s Pick Me Up festival (as you can see from our glowing review) but others were not so convinced. Here Lawrence Zeegen, dean of design at the London College of Communications, argues that the graphic art world needs a wake-up call.