Dan Ariely - The Brand of Money

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Some might say that the US dollar is the most successful product in history.


Think about it, it is the product in which all other products are predicated. Money, is something that people think about incessantly. But, ironically, do not think about at all.


This realization lead me to start thinking about money as a brand...  what is its purpose? How can we create a greater, or different connection to it? and what is the sense of meaning in it?


Enter Dan Ariely.


Dan is a behavioral economist and well known for documenting our blind relationship with irrationality. Serendipitously, Dan has a new book out called Dollars and Sense which explores how we think about money. Who better to talk to!


From talking to Dan I learned three main things.


  1. How we think about worth and value

    1. Why are most people willing to pay $4 for one kind of coffee and only $1 for another? Even if we can show empirically that there is no difference in taste? Why will buy a chocolate bar for $9.  


  1. Branding saving over spending

    1. Most, if not all of the status derived from our purchases are a visual representation of how much we spent, implying it is cool to spend. But, we often do not think about branding the parts of our financial lives that are more opaque, and arguably more important.




     3. Designing products around the “Pain of paying”  

  1. Anecdotally, I like taking Ubers because I don’t have to look at the meter of a taxi cab (just being real). This is a slick use of alleviating the “pain of paying”, that feeling of unease when we realize that equivalent, less than or greater value must be exchanged in order for the economy to run properly. Where can this be leveraged for building new products and brands?  

Listen to the episode below 




What really drives your brand? 

How understanding your motivations can help you create something that impacts the world. 

“Small things done well can have impact” 

Eric Hoekendorf, Co-Founder of Foyyay



Foyyay is a Product Studio relentlessly committed to making meaningful experiences for people, through a deep understanding of how they do life. 

In a conversation with founder Eric I had two major takeaways. 

  1. When it comes to creating meaning, it's about people over process. 
  2. Memorialize your values from day one. 


Creating meaning

When I think of the relationships that I have with products or brands that are most meaningful to me, it is not that much about the product itself. It is more about the people behind the product. 

In the full interview on Branded, Eric and I go much deeper into how to create meaning. 

Specifically, Eric beautifully articulates how creating meaning is … 

  • Intuition informed by data. 
  • It's about people over a rigid process. 


  • How making meaning is often about saying NO more than yes. 


Values that creating lasting value 

Why do you behave the way that you do? Why do you take certain actions or lack thereof? As human beings, there are often HUGE assumptions that underly our decisions and our beliefs, both consciously and unconsciously. 

Similarly, brands and products often have underlying assumptions about why they are doing or doing or creating what they are creating. This fatal error of not understanding the motivations that have informed their values often leads to the systemic erosion of value… can you say KODAK. 

Specifically, Eric beautifully articulates how understanding your motivations, even to the point of granularity, is extremely important from day one. We speak about how in the act of creation it is important to … 

  • Remember that design is a rendering of intent. 
  • The more you are aligned with your core reasons for being, the more you will resonate. 
  • Understand your motivations so that you can create a clear promise to your end customers — a promise you both believe in.


  • It is not just to know your intentions, you must communicate them.

Listen to the full episode below:  

What does it take to build a product people love?

What does it take to build a product people love?

 A conversation with Ryan Singer of Basecamp. 

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Often, I think about products from a ‘cloudy’ perspective. I tend to look at companies or products and think about them in terms of their ‘true north’. Then, I try and figure out a way to reverse engineer features that might fit that ‘true north’, that ‘vision’, or that ‘purpose’. Embedded in that approach are a lot of assumptions. 

What I learned from a conversation with Ryan Singer of Basecamp, was that when trying to create new things (not derivatives of existing things) we must solve for specific situations in peoples lives. Specifically, before getting lost in clouds of generating supply we have to get out in the field, into the jungle of the demand that is being created by real people, in real situations. 

Simply, I learned that we have to remember to ask two fundamental questions when building products 

  1. Whats going wrong that we are fixing for them (real people)? 

  2.  How can we fix it? 

Only after these questions are thoughtfully asked, sufficiently answered, and continuously posited can we begin to think about the brand at large and the vision of the future that we hope to create in the world through our resources, processes and values as a company or organization. 

Enjoy the episode. You will learn a lot. 


Selected Links: 


Ryan Singer on Medium, Twitter, and his website. 





The Seduction Of Storytelling | Denise Burrell - Stinson, Washington Post Brand Studio


“The real difference between us and chimpanzees is the mysterious glue that enables millions of humans to cooperate effectively.

This mysterious glue is made of stories, not genes. We cooperate effectively with strangers because we believe in things like gods, nations, money and human rights. Yet none of these things exist outside the stories that people invent and tell one another.”  Yuval Hurari  


Powerful. Influential. Desirable. These words describe the people, products, and companies that we so deeply revere or vilify.  

Agnostic of the cause or the underlying belief I often ask myself, "why?” or more accurately “how?” how do certain brands, products, and people have the ability to cast the net of narrative and in return capture the imagination of anyone within its reach? The answer that I always seem to come back to is their uncanny ability to tell a story that is compelling,  or dare I say, alters the image of the future that the audience sees for themselves, or who they care about. 


But! But! A story without truth in these transparent times is simply a house of cards waiting to get blown down. So, it is with great pleasure that I present this weeks episode on the branded podcast. Denise Burrell - Stinson takes us on a journey of perhaps the two most powerful forces we have as humans… truth and story. 




Tyler Riewer of charity:water

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I was first introduced to charity:water when I was walking down 5th Ave. and saw a yellow jerry can in a shop window. I thought to myself “hmm thats odd” and then looked at the signage and realized that this major retailer was partnering with a charity in a campaign that was actually cool. It was at that point that it occurred to me that charity: water was more than just a charity, it was a relevant brand. 

That is why I am delighted to publish this episode on the branded podcast, today's guest is Tyler Riewer, Brand Content Lead at charity: water.  

A big small request. 

This show itself is a labor of love so you can rest assured that any request is heart felt and sincere. With that, I would implore you to check out all the funding options that charity: water has. I have linked them below. 

charity: water's Website

Pledge your birthday (I will be doing this) 

Start A Campaign or Find a campaign

The Spring Monthly Donation Program 

Sponsor A Community

One time donation

Lastly, if the podcast did not allow you to connect with the work that charity:water does at a deep enough level, check out someone like you

Thank you for listening and enjoy the show. 

Hayley Ard | How To Think About Your Brands Relevance, Resonance, and Reach

I am delighted to share the latest branded podcast with you. For a long time I have had a fascination with philosophy and philosophers, parenthetically I have long been fascinated by the question “How do we live?” and it is this question which I believe to be at the root of all philosophical ideals.  

What does that have to do with Branding? Well, in my opinion, a lot. 

For the half century, brands have been an extension of what we do or don’t believe, the products we buy in some sense could be construed by passers by to hold a deeper understanding of which ideologies a person may or may not subscribe to. 

With that said, this weeks guest is Hayley Ard - head of consumer lifestyle at Stylus Innovation Research and Advisory. In this episode you will learn about  how the emerging trends in tech and culture are shaping the perceptions of todays consumer buying decisions and brand affinities. Although, the most heart warming and intellectually intriguing aspect of the episode is when Hayley and I discuss philosophy and its role in brand and todays culture. Enjoy.    

Oh, and I almost forgot. In the intro to this weeks episode is taken from a post by Jason Silva. Okay… Now enjoy. 


Selected Links for Going Deeper Than The Dialogue 

Stylus Innovation Advisory  

Stylus Youtube Channel

Stylus Curve

Stylus Blog

Jordan B Peterson, The psychological significance of the biblical stories. 

Zygmunt Bauman

School Of Life

Oliver Sacks

Chat Bots  

Jason Silva


Dan Formosa, PHD & The Power Of Purpose, When Executed Through Promise

Dan Formosa is a Product Designer who thinks deeply about the world, he expresses his insights into the human condition by helping companies thrive and adapt to the environment by and through design. 

I was fortunate to have Dan as a professor at SVA, but also to collaborate on some projects since graduating. In this episode, we touch on many topics from quantifying design to the practicalities of the brand promise. 

This episode is for you if you are someone who sees brand and design as how something works as well as how it makes you feel. I know that I will be coming back to this episode to utilize some of the wisdom and I am sure that you all listening will as well. Thank you for your attention and enjoy the episode.   

Designing A Delightful Customer Experience With Hana James & Emma Knight Of Greenhouse Juice Co.

It has never been more important than today to provide customers with an unparalleled experience. From the product itself to all the different facets at the point of purchase, experience is undoubtedly hard, but it is also the purest expression of a brand. 

I am delighted to post this episode as the guests have masterfully crafted a brand experience that brings their customers joy day after day. Emma Knight and Hana James provide deep insights into how they have gone about creating and continuing to refine the ideal experience for their customers. 



IMPORTANT: There were some technical difficulties in post, so you may be turning your volume up and down for some parts. I apologize for this, but I promise that the content is wonderful, even if you have to listen carefully. 

Rachel Cohen: The Art & Science Of Brand Building and Foregoing The Expedient, For The Meaningful.


Rachel Cohen, Co — Founder of Snowe Home on the day to day decisions that go into building a great brand. 


Often, when I think about brand building I do so in a very idealistic manner. While this is certainly flawed, it is important, if not mandatory to think about what your brand should be on its very best day. After all, what is a mission or vision if not the absolute perfect expression of your values manifest in real life. 

But… but! This way of thinking is actually some ways a barrier for brand builders because the only way to get to that mission or that true north is to be relentless and thoughtful about how your brand is coming to life in every single interaction and every single decision. The nitty gritty, from operations to customer experience and back. 

Thats why I was so grateful to be able to speak with Rachel Cohen from SnoweHome on the podcast. In this episode we cover a range of topics all centered around how to bring brand to life in the everyday decisions of running a business. I learned quite a bit in our conversation and it is one that I am going to be coming back to over and over. 

Also, be sure to check out SnoweHome Products on their website and their Instagram page, or if you are in NYC go say hi, you will not be disappointed. 

Dr. Tom Guarriello:Why You Should Brand The Back Of The Drawer Why You Should Brand The Back Of The Drawer

 Why You Should Brand The Back Of The Drawer: How Psychology, AI, and “The Back Of The Drawer” Can Help You Build An Iconic Brand

I am really excited to release this episode of The Branded podcast. Dr Tom Gaurriello was a professor of mine in Graduate school. He is also an incredibly interesting, intelligent and insightful person with many many many years experience bridging the gap between psychology, technology, and brands.

 I loved our conversation, it is one that I will be coming back to time and time again. He is able to articulate how the changing landscape will shift brand building in such a compelling and easy to understand manner. Enjoy.

Alan Klement of Customer Jobs Lab: How To Add Substance To Your Brands Style How To Add Substance To Your Brands Style

How To Add Substance To Your Brands Style: Applying Jobs To Be Done to brand building & understanding how to help your customer make progress in their lives.


“People are buying products for self-betterment, they do that because we as humans are goal setting, aspirational organisms“  Alan Klement


The purpose of this interview was to understand how we as brand builders, can improve our toolkit by using Jobs To Be Done. The interview provides insight into how to improve strategy, design, communication and products we create by applying JTBD. 

Alan Klement is the Principle of Customer Jobs Labs and a voice of authority on all things Jobs To Be Done. I really enjoyed our conversation and we cover a range of topics that all come back to the central thought of how to help people make progress in their lives.

Not surprisingly, Jobs To Be Done theory is being adopted by rapid growth startups like Intercom, who have applied the theory from Marketing to Design. I am so fascinated by Jobs To Be Done and think that it could be extremely powerful and effective when combined with fundamental brand building.


MAHBOD MOGHADAM: Branding From The Bottom Up

Branding From The Bottom Up: How to Build A Community and Create A Cult

“I’m basically a wanna be Sean Parker"  Mahbod Moghadam

Mahood’s perspective on brand building is from the point of view an ‘actor’ or brand builder. He shares wonderful insights on how to build community and a cult-like status around a product or service. He breaks down the thinking behind iconic tech brands like Snap Inc., Genius, and Everpedia. He is the Co - Founder of Everpedia, and Co - Founder of Genius.com