Inspirational reading: You Are a Message – Why empathy is key for brands

Inspirational reading: You Are a Message – Why empathy is key for brands May 15, 2016

Guillaume Wolf’s second book „You Are A Message“ is really worth having a look into it, and also getting a bit closer to Wolf’s philosophy.

After two decades being a creative consultant and french artist originally located in Paris, Wolf moved to Los Angeles and is teaching communication design and the psychology behind branding at Art Center of Design in Pasadena.

„This book (…) is designed for the Next Creative Class: people who are changing our world for the good – not by talking about it, but by creating new offerings (businesses, organizations, and groups) based on positive creative values.“

The first thing we all have to understand is, that people do not want advertising in their lifes. It is even the opposite way round: they spend money to avoid it, install ad blockers, pay for on-demand-services, and so on… The challenge for us as designers and creatives is to create something with a real value. „Content marketing“ many might claim as one solution, or another as Stefan Sagmeister is “selling” his style of interpretation: “Create Beauty”.

Wolf’s approach is a bit more spiritual, and I even like that and see it as a bigger explanation of the same phenomenon:

„It’s always about the fundamentals.

Ask yourself these two questions:

– Who am I talking to?
– How can I help them?

This is a great practice, like mental tai chi.
This is also the secret to creating a great brand.“

And instead of a rational analysis of your target group he recommends:

„Empathy is paramount.

To understand an individual in a market, my talent is to imagine that I’ve flown out of my shoes and landed in his or her shoes. From this new perspective, I can see, feel, and think as he or she does. But remember, this is not a parlor trick: In order to be empathic, you need to be genuinely loving and caring.

That’s what I do best, and you should try it too. By practicing empathy daily, you’ll get incredible insights into people and situations.“

In an economy that is still mostly controlled and dominated by men, PR strategies and communication is many times just missing real empathy for the customer. Instead of trusting what feels right, many times clients go with a more rational-based solution.

And Wolf responds to that:

„You can’t control people.
You can’t control reality.
You can’t control your market.


You can connect with people.
You can connect with reality.
You can connect with your market.“

Because what brands need right now, is to develop a greater vision. It is not about selling your product, it is about offering real values, like being effective, being inspiring, providing independence or taking responsibility.

And Wolf is hitting the Zeitgeist:

„New luxury is time and space.
New success is the realization of your true potential.
New wealth is the cultural legacy you leave behind.“

Guillaume Wolf calls himself btw. “Prof.G.”, like on his website. There you can also find a TED speech about “How to Create the Future”. Quite inspiring!