211. Critical Thinking: Brainwashing’s Implication in Education, Advertising, Religion & Government

Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Reform by Kathleen TaylorPublished in 2004, Kathleen Taylor‘s book Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control looks at the history of brainwashing as we know it through the lens of neuroscience and psychology, defines the spectum of ‘brainwashing’ from persuasion to aggressive thought reform, and shows how strategies of brainwashing can be observed in religion, advertising, education and government.

Continue reading “211. Critical Thinking: Brainwashing’s Implication in Education, Advertising, Religion & Government”

165. How to Run A Business: Superbrand Secrets From The Fashion Industry

16 takeaways from this video:

00:00:08 The mere presence of a logo is enough to make the person wearing the logo appear to be more athletic, more popular, cooler and more friendly.

00:04:05 Louis Vuitton began in 1854 making expensive luggage for royalty, and have since branched out into luxury clothing. In 2010, Louis Vuitton was valued at £12,503,000,000. In 1977 Louis Vuitton had but two stores in France. Today, in addition to their online store, Louis Vuitton has over 400 boutiques around the world.

Fashion brands must walk a fine line between selling to the masses while not losing their exclusivity to the rich. They must make their low end products affordable, but the affordability mustn’t appear too obvious.

00:05:20 The pyramid model is a 3-tier model consisting of:

  1. Image & Branding Strategy – at the top brands offer very high-quality, limited-edition, custom-made products; anything your heart desires so long as you either have the budget to afford it or are a celebrity able to deliver positive, global exposure. Most fashion brands actually lose money at this level, including it as a part of their advertising and marketing budget.
  2. High-End Market – luxury brands offer expensive pre-made, middle-range products you can purchase at a boutique or online.
  3. Low-End Market – at the bottom of this pyramid lies the brand’s most significant source of income: perfumes, wallets, scarves, umbrellas, jewelry, sunglasses, etc.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Rory Sutherland’s talk The Next Revolution Will Be Psychological Not Technological that value is created through marketing and research & development, meaning that there are only two departments in business that actually create value and make money: innovation and marketing; everything else is a cost. Further, marketing and innovation are cut from the same cloth. In business you can either find out what people want and then figure out how to make it, or find out something you can make and then find out how to convince people they want it.]

00:07:18 Luxottica, headquartered in Milan, Italy, “is the world’s largest eyewear companies, controlling over 70% of the world’s major eyewear brands” (Source: Wikipedia: Luxottica) with roughly 55 million sunglasses frames being produced each year, according to CEO Massimo Vian. Nearly all of the fashion luxury brand’s bottom-tier (the low end market) are manufactured by Luxottica using the same materials and production machines.

00:09:33 Burberry was founded in 1864 in Basingstoke, England by creating suits for men. In 2010 Burberry had a brand valuation of £1,150,000,000. Today, Burberry has over 497 boutiques around the world.

Burberry distinguished themselves through their unique patterned lining inside their coats. However in the 1980s, in an attempt to boost sales in the low-end third-tier market, Burberry began using their distinct lining on the exterior of sacs, belts, napkins and glasses cases. Unfortunately, this trend got out of control and the consumer demographic who took a hold of this trend happened to be ill-mannered hooligans who were seen on international news rioting and fighting in the streets.

While this image problem was isolated to only England, fashion journalists, bloggers and influencers are able to spread their message globally.

As a result, Burberry lost control of it’s image. To one consumer demographic Burberry means elite status, and for another consumer demographic Burberry is only for ‘Chavs;’ “young lower-class people who display brash and loutish behaviour and wear real or imitation designer clothes.” This, of course, resulted in a decrease in sales in Burberry’s second- and first-tiers as their more wealthier consumers didn’t want to be associated with ‘chavs.’

To regain control of their image, Burberry:

  • Brought in fashion designer Christopher Bailey, who returned Burberry to it’s elite status through fashion shows and re-restricted use of Burberry’s signature lining.
  • Took control of the conversation through customer relationship management (CRM) campaigns on social media.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on Customer Relationship Management, read my interview with Client Services Director Bérénice Goales, or purchase How to Shape Human Behavior 2nd Edition.]

00:13:21 Newspapers and magazines typically operate on a 3rd-party business model, staying in business through paid advertising. But while paid advertising is effective,

consumers have gotten pretty good at ignoring blatant advertising. Therefore public relations and exposure through editorial pieces and native advertising is much more effective, and brands therefore rely on those newspapers and magazines to inform their readers about what’s available and what’s popular. Glamour Magazine’s ‘hitlist,’ for example, features the top 10 looks for the upcoming season.

The combination of a fashion brand’s top-tier branding and image strategy, marketing and advertising campaigns, and the press coverage of these fashion brand’s top-tier branding and image strategy has an undeniabe and extremely powerful effect on the human brain.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more about the relationship between brands and the media, watch How to Ru(i)n A Business: When Content Meets Native Advertising with John Oliver.]

00:15:58 Fashion Hire Limited enables consumers lacking the financial resources to rent fashion articles on a short-term basis. £15,000 designer handbags can be rented for as low as £100 per month.

To stay top of mind, fashion brands launch new bags as frequently as every 6 weeks.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in the documentary The Next Black: The Future of Clothing & The Quest For Climate-Positive Products that fast fashion is the move from catwalk to order as quickly as possible “to capture current fashion trends.”

Fast fashion has come about in part through clothing companies’ abilty to deliver inexpensive clothes made in countries where manufacturing costs are lower and turnaround quicker, and in part because low prices and continually changing options satisfies consumer needs.

Fast fashion has completely changed the face of the industry so much that between 2000 to 2010 human consumption of clothes has increased by a staggering 47%.

This cost of this consumption business model is having a detrimental effect to the environment. If clothing companies keep pushing fast fashion it is because consumers keep demanding it.]

00:17:58 Most of human behavior is driven by unconscious brain processes. The human brain evolved to make us better at surviving and breeding:

  • The limbic system is where humans feel emotions. This is why the acts of eating and having sex are so enjoyable.
  • The neocortex is the intellectual part of our brains and developed on top of our limbic system. While your neocortex allows you to make sense of your decisions and explain them, it doesn’t change the fact that deep down your decisions, reasoning and preferences originate with your emotions.

00:20:03 Priming is “ a process in which the processing of a target stimulus is aided or altered by the presentation of a previously presented stimulus.” When you see things that you have been primed to like, the pleasure centers in your limbic system responsible for reward, craving and addiction activate. Connect one stimulus with another enough times, and your brain unconsciously connects the two.

Humans do things, and for the most part they have no idea why they are doing them. Your neocortex is the puppet, and your limbic system is the puppet master.

This is the part of your brain brands are after.

00:22:11 More mainstream brands with their smaller marketing budgets and/or commodity products must take a different approach.

With commodity products, competiting brands differentiate themselves from others by becoming the posterchild for an emotional movement or expression.

00:23:04 Levi’s Jeans was founded in 1853 in San Francisco, California. The idea came from taking fabric used in the making of tents to create clothing for miners, who required durable clothes. In 2010 Levi’s Jeans had a brand valuation of £581,000,000.

Humans use their belongings to signal their success in life; they also use their belongings to signal their belief systems, assert their authenticity, and tell a story about who they are or want to be.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: To learn more about stories brands tell to integrate themselves into your authenticity, read my interview with Art Director Julien Hérisson.

Conversely, watch the TED Talk Why You Should Be Suspicious Of The Stories You Hear by Tyler Cowen to learn why stories shouldn’t be blindly accepted as truth.]

00:30:57 People will pay extra to purchase jeans which look used. A jeans manufacturing warehouse in India has an entire department dedicated to destroying perfectly new jeans:

  • Whiskering is the process of scraping the jeans so that the fabric threads start to come apart.
  • A grinding machine is used to round out the newly cut edges of pockets and foldes and to produce holes in the pants legs.
  • A spray gun attached to a bleach tank dulls and fades the fresh colors
  • A large dryer containing pumice stones give the pants a nice “beat all to hell” look.
  • An ironing machine is then used to recreate the natural crinkles that occur in pants after years of sitting and squatting.

This entire process seems to have been designed to let the consumer look like s/he has had experiences that in fact s/he has not.

00:33:06 Abercrombie & Fitch was founded in 1892 in Manhattan, NYC as a posh sports outfitter. Today they sell the same products as everybody else in their market, yet they charge 3-4 times as much. And consumes pay. In 2010, Abercrombie & Fitch had a brand valuation of £301,000,000.

Every exclusive club knows that more important than who you let in, is who you don’t let in.


Empowerment, holiness, love, sexiness… Some brands such as Coca-Cola, Adidas, and Nike have successfully infultrated the human mind in ways other brand could only dream of, building what Kalle Lasn, founder of Adbusters can only describe as a sort of ‘nuclear glow’ around their brand by investing countless months and millions of dollars on thinktanks centered on finding the perfect emotion they can exploit to build a marketing campaign around.

For innocent, unsuspecting children, getting your product onto their idols is extremely important for the success of your brand.

Which is why Adbusters is a Canada-based not-for-profit organization “concerned with the erosion of our physical and cultural environments by commercial forces…by challenging people to become participants as opposed to spectators, Adbusters takes aim at corporate disinformation, global injustice and the industries and governments who actively pollute and destroy our physical and mental commons.” Adbusters actively attempt to take these global brands on at their advertising game by propogating spoofed sub-vertisements.

00:43:55 Adidas was founded in 1924 in Herzogenaurach, Germany as military boot-makers for the German army, but has since completely permeated the sports industries. In 2010, Adidas had a brand valuation of £2,062,000,000.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: On a side note, recall in Armin Trost’s lecture Human Resources Management: Local to Global HR Department Models that Adidas and Puma, founded by Adolph Dassler and Rudolf Dassler respectively, are both headquartered in their little home town of Herzogenaurach, Bavaria because, according to a Tuesday, August 13, 2011 article in Time.com, as the “…result of miscommunication. After an allied bomb attack (during WWII), Adolf and his wife took cover in a bomb shelter already occupied by Rudolf and his family. ‘The dirty bastards are back again,’ Adolf said, apparently referring to the planes, but Rudolf thought the comment was an attack against his family.”

Also, recall in documentary The Next Black: The Future of Clothing & The Quest For Climate-Positive Products that Adidas is focusing on merging fashion with technology so humans can better understand their bodies limitations and potential.]

Gary Aspden of Adidas is responsible for identify up-and-coming trendsetters and ensuring they are constantly adorned with Adidas products. Often times these future trendsetters who are approached by mega-brands are shocked that these brands even know who they are. This makes it all that easier to snatch them up at the beginning of their ascent.

While this kind of global unconscious notoriety is highly-coveted, the required aggressive marketing technique can backfire without warning.

00:50:44 Nike was founded in 1964 in Oregan, USA under the name Blue Ribbon Sports, a small time company that designed and sold jogging shoes. In 2010, Nike had a brand valuation of £7,962,000,000.

From the very start Nike relied on cheap labor to keep their costs down and revenue high. In the 1990s, this business decision began earning them bad press as media began highlighting the company’s labor exploitation practices. The general public backlashed because once a brand reaches the level of control on the human brain which rivals religion, one character flaw can result in extreme rejection by the brand’s loyal followers.

The true secret to superbrand status is that they offer something so universal that everyone, at all layers of society, wants it whether they can afford it or not.

74. Generation Like: How your quest for identity & connection is subtly manipulated

24 important takeaways from this documentary:

00:10:01 “The icons of this generation are the ‘Like’ button, the ‘Tweet’ button, the ‘Rebog’ button. This is the biggest transformation that we’ve had in terms of communicating with consumers in our lifetime, and to not learn how to participate in those channels is outrageous; to stand on the sidelines is not an option.” – Bonin Bough, VP of Global Media, Mondelêz Int’l

00:12:48 “All those selfies you take and post on Instagram helped that company to sell for over a billion dollars. Send a tweet, and you help raise the value of Twitter to around $30 billion. Facebook is valued at around $140 billion. Those numbers aren’t based on profits, those prices are based on the number of likes they can generate; and likes don’t generate themselves.” – Douglas Rushkoff

00:13:10 “Likes don’t generate themselves. Thats why companies need kids to stay online clicking, and liking, and tweeting. They do that by giving kids the chance to be a part of the game: fame by association. Reach out to anybody, and there’s an implied promise that they might reach back.” – Douglas Rushkoff

00:15:50 “Social media is all about sharing; and that includes sharing the wealth. When kids with large audiences work together, everyone benefits." – Douglas Rushkoff

00:16:15 "There’s no point in not wanting all of us to help each other be successful and rise together.” – Tyler Oakley

00:17:57 “It used to be that if a kid didn’t have any connections, hardwork and talent were the only path to fame; and even that was no guarantee. But today you can build and leverage a social network.” – Douglas Rushkoff

00:18:45 “(You might) have genuine talent, but that’s beside the point. To get ahead you need to attach yourself to others who have mastered the game of ‘likes.’ It’s basically just merging all the fan bases together. – Douglas Rushkoff & Liam Horne

00:20:50 "You need to stop worrying about your followers and start worrying about the money.” – Steven Fernandez

00:23:04 Lots of people can do what you do. What you need is a way to cut through the clutter. – Douglas Rushkoff

00:25:50 If you don’t have a zillion hits, then you generally won’t get noticed by a sponsor.

00:30:18 If you’re connected to a person and that person likes a brand, and then you like the person and then as a result you like the same product, then now you’ve got a double-endorsement to your friends. – Oliver Luckett, CEO of the Audience

00:30:58 Get social media, then use social media to promote your career, brand, product, etc so that you get to the point where you have a social media network that you can sell. That is every SMART person’s goal with social media. You are your own media company. – Douglas Rushkoff and Oliver Luckett, CEO of the Audience

00:31:47 Start with the research and strategy phase where you really dig into who your audience is, and then figure out how your audience uses social media to communicate… The challenges would be using that audience in the way that you want to use them in order to see the results you’re looking for. Instead of selling the product to the audience, get the audience to sell your product for you.  – Kendra Campbell-Milburn, Sr. Director for TGVLA & Douglas Rushkoff

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on how brands collect and sort through your data, check out my interview with Data Consultants Samantha Bilodeau and Thomas Palugan]

00:34:04 What’s designed to look like a grass roots wave of excitement is actually a meticulously planned marketing strategy. It may be catching fire, but it was doused with gasoline beforehand. – Douglas Rushkoff

00:34:16 Day-by-day, hour-by-hour; absolutely nothing is left to chance. Your goal is to create a controlled brush-fire online to the point where the fans are convincing each other. All the little tid-bits you give them serves as fuel for the fire you’re trying to create… That is how brands both keep interest up and prep for the next one. 

From the beginning to the end, every bit of the marketing strategy is being manipulated; a year out. – Brooks Barnes of The New York Times

00:34:45 Consumers aren’t just being marketed to, they’re actually part of the marketing campaign itself. – Douglas Rushkoff

00:37:02 Your consumer is your marketer. That is a real shift because it used to  be a one way conversation of the marketer to the consumer, and now your consumer is doing as much as the marketer is and getting the message across; consumers are wanting to be as much a part of the process as the company will let them be. -Jane Buckingham, President of Trendera

00:41:10 Surprisingly, consumers can always tell when you’re ‘pushing’ something. So try to keep it transparent and honest because consumers know it’s your job and they know that you have to pay bills. – Tyler Oakley

00:41:55 ‘Selling out’ is not selling it anymore; it’s sort of getting the brass ring. If you get a brand to send you stuff, that brand realizes that you’re important enough that you’re an importance audience to reach. –Jason Calacanis, Founder of Insider.com

00:42:17 ‘Selling out’ doesn’t even exist as a term anymore. You don’t hear young people talking about selling out; I’m not even sure that they know what it means. – Alissa Quart, Author of Republic of Outsiders

00:43:17 Can you really win when you don’t make the rules? Maybe that’s why some of them are opting to become the game makers themselves. – Douglas Rushkoff

00:45:07 A seamless blend of marketing, media and everyday life; every moment of your consumer’s life can be turned into a branding opportunity. There are nuances in how you present things that create different psychological responses. Don’t even call yourself an ‘ad’ to consumers: call yourself ‘rewards’ and ‘moments.’ As consumers go out and experience the world, the things that make the most impact are the things that seemingly come up serendipitiously. Serendipity by design. -Brian Wong of Kiip and Douglas Rushkoff

00:49:50 Kids take the very marketing techniques that have been used on them, and use them on one another; all in pursuit of the same prize. – Douglas Rushkoff

00:50:30 Getting likes feels good; at least in the moment.  – Douglas Rushkoff

71. Roberto Cruz Niemiec on How Architecture Affects Branding, Collaboration & Blog Etiquette 101

Roberto Cruz Niemiec CannonDesign ArchAtlasVice President at Cannon Design and curator of ArchAtlas, Roberto Cruz Niemiec has +20 years experience manifesting his client’s brand image and philosophy through architecture & design.

How does architecture & design fit into the branding process? Architecture and design are integral to the branding process. Architecture works on two levels. Your office sends an architecture design company such as Cannon Design an image of how your organization works, your brand vision as a team, how you treat your employees and your expectations. At another level, your building can serve as an image of your organization, an icon. Design affects how your company is perceived on all levels: from your logo and forms to products and advertising.

What is Cannon Design’s unique selling point? Cannon Design is a global design services firm focused on creating design solutions to the greatest challenges facing our clients and society. We focus mostly on healthcare and education projects in North America. CannonDesign has a couple of characteristics that differentiate it from other firms. We work as one office, not separate profit centers; so regardless of where the project is located we will make sure the best expertise available firm-wide is assigned to your project. Also, we are not a firm that is created to promote one designer or one style of architecture, we recognize each project is unique, and as such the design is unique to that project.

What are a few projects CannonDesign has worked on?

I want to hire an architect. How can I tell the good from the bad? Choosing an architect comes down to chemistry and sharing a common goal. Choose an architect who you feel you can work with but that will challenge you and expand on your ideas. After you have narrowed your search you can visit his office, visit previous projects and check references. Do not ignore this step, it will provide you with a better understanding of how well the architect collaborates and how successful his/her projects are.

Did you launch Archatlas as a side hobby, a career positioning move, or both? ArchAtlas was started purely as a hobby, a way for me to save all the incredible things I find on the web everyday. It took me a while to understand all the different aspects of tumblr and what I could strive for. To this day most people where I work – my peers and colleagues – are oblivious to the fact that I run a somewhat successful blog.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Nearly all of the creatives I interview stress the importance of keeping and organizing your ideas and inspirations because you never know when something you saw will become the foundation for a future project.]

In less than 2 years later you grew your follower-base to +100,000 followers. What milestones helped ArchAtlas reach this level of success? I don’t have an answer to that question so I took that opportunity to organize a tumblr etiquette 101.

However, the first year ArchAtlas was very lucky to be featured on tumblr’s radar a number of times and the blog has always had the support of the tag editors. I’ve never used paid advertising, and to be honest I am still learning how to establish a social network. I guess I have just been very lucky to meet other bloggers that have showed me how tumblr could be a very powerful platform for sharing ideas. 

As for milestones, I can recall things I did that defined my style as a blogger and made me more aware of the kind of power a blog can have:

  • When I started ArchAtlas (back when tumblr was smaller and more personal), I contacted the top design and architecture editors and collaborators and said hi. I got very lucky that those bloggers I contacted were such great people that to this day I count them as friends.
  • Chaz McIntyre of Really-Shit invited me to be a collaborator on a group blog called UnknownEditors (now called Cross Connect) where I got to meet a number of great bloggers.
  • The Khooll invited me to post on his blog. I learned so much from him on how to create content because we worked together on most of the posts.
  • Being the top collaborator on the design and architecture tag and being featured on tumblr’s radar at different moments has really contributed to people finding my blog; there is no denying that.
  • When art/design/architecture sites outside tumblr, like This Is Colossal or My Modern Met, picked up content from my blog the very first time was a very surprising and invigorating development.
  • When I found out an artist from Venezuela was offered a chance for an exhibition in the US (his first internationally) because of me posting his work also gave me a sense of satisfaction.

How often I publish on ArchAtlas varies, however lately it’s closer to 6 times a day without counting reblogs and responses to questions. I’ve found that consistency and quality of content are critical for a blog to maintain followers and grow. As soon as you stop blogging for a couple of days followers start leaving; that it’s how it works.

Lately it seems that word has spread that I have been in the industry for a long time and that I will answer questions related to architecture school and such. It has been interesting (and time consuming) to be able to offer responses to younger followers interested in the profession; something I never planned to do with ArchAtlas. If you’re interested you can follow my ongoing Architecture Q&A here.

How do you feel tumblr has changed since Yahoo! took over? As tumblr moves away from being a community of misfits towards a sponsored content cornucopia, blogs like ArchAtlas (a one person labor of love on their time off) will probably have to adapt or be pushed out.

Yes, tumblr has and will change more. Blogs like ArchAtlas cannot compete for content with blogs that have a magazine, a newspaper or a tv network behind them. That is undeniable. Most blogs that are just another outlet for a media company seldom try to foster the sense of community that a one person blog does. (Don’t get me wrong, some do, very effectively)

In the tumblr community in which ArchAtlas evolved there are a group of bloggers who know each other by name; almost as if tumblr were a global magazine and each of us are responsible for curating our own section of it. For new bloggers trying to make their mark it’s tough because they don’t have that network and as tumblr grows it becomes increasingly more difficult to make those kinds of connections. Tumblr is different because of those bloggers, not for the media outlets that have now saturated the site.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I also asked this question during my interviews with tumblrs Sophie Andreson of Neuromaencer and Freelance Product Designer Timoni West.]

ArchAtlas is advertising free. Do you plan on monetizing it? It sounds like a great idea but I have not researched what it would take to effectively turn ArchAtlas into a money maker. I have been approached by others to do so but until now no definite strategy has been developed. For now it will remain a hobby.