Debbie Millman: "When people ask, 'why you?' what do you say?"

KET interviewed speaker and designer Debbie Millman at the IdeaFestival, and has released the edited video on YouTube. I thought I'd post it here in case you haven't yet seen it and note a few things that stood out to me while listening to the conversation with Renee Shaw.

Branding, Millman says, is "deliberate differentiation" of product or service, "a way for people to understand it." Elaborating a bit later on the subject, she said that our choice of brands is an expression of "the tribes we belong to."

"Brand choices are not rational. They're "highly, highly emotional." That understanding, incidentally, parallels a change in the economics, which does not view human choice, solely, as a product of logic that weighs the available evidence before making self-interested choices. Rather, behavioral economics is interested in the emotional content and motivations behind those choices.

In a discussion about our culture of instant gratification, Millman points out that even organizations opposed to consumerism deploy branding in support of their efforts.

As an educator, she uses brand exercises to prompt students to think about their own identity.

"When people ask, 'why you?' what do you say?" And a moment later: "If you don't understand your motivations, whether as a person or a brand, you're never going to make a difference." In a world defined by speed and instant communication, "branding brings together an expertise cultural anthropology, an expertise in behavioral psychology. You need to have expertise in finance, commerce, economics...."

In an interesting detail, Debbie Millman said that the sewing patterns laid out by her mother, a seamstress, were an inspiration for her love of word art later in life.

KET will post its interviews with IdeaFestival speakers on a regular basis. Follow the IdeaFestival @ideafestival on Twitter, or at /IdeaFestival on Facebook and we'll point them out.

Stay curious.