Master Myth Maker - Interview with Ramdane Touhami, mind behind Buly and other exquisite Brand (Re-)Creations

September 25, 2018

"I don't do 'experiences' or 'storytelling'... I hate when people say 'your package is beautiful'.  We are not about 'status' ... we are all about selling the best product!"  Such statements might surprise, coming from Ramdane Touhami, a serial creator of Prestige and Lifestyle brands who has more recently focused on transforming businesses long on history but short on relevance into coveted Prestige brands - notably Cire Trudon and Buly - that stand out offering inspired, total ... experiences. - Sorry, Ramdane.

As we question him on these bold statements and probe deeper into what he means by 'selling' or 'best product,' it becomes clear that Touhami's definitions diverge from the norm and that he follows rather unconventional strategies.  And, staying true to a reputation for being 'outspoken' he does not shy away from contrasting his approach to brand building - he talks about "building an institution" - to those of other players ranging from Aesop and Glossier to L'Oreal and Shiseido.


To us, it is a prime example of myth-making in marketing¹ when someone feels compelled to build a neo-romantic beauty boutique (half Classic, half Art Deco), calls it 'L'Officine Universelle Buly' (after a perfumer, distiller, cosmetician and boutique owner 'Bully,²' who, in 1809, invented an iconic multi-purpose 'vinaigre de toilette') and locates the it in the Rue Bonaparte or the former foundry where Rodin cast 'The Thinker' in Paris.  And, in case you miss the mythic connection, a commemorative plate next to the door will tell you that Bully was the inspiration behind one of Honoré Balzac's heros (César Birotteau - its contested).  Cards placed throughout the store and the uniformed boutique staff will share - in a whispering voice - stories about the place and each of the hundreds of products and potions on display.  The 'vinaigre,' we are told, can tighten the skin as well as refresh the mouth.
Ramdane calls it "education" and the environment "hyper-real," with a reference to Umberto Eco³.


But hi-/story is just one ingredient.  Touhami really employs all the latest strategies and tactics one finds in modern Prestige brand building and crafts them into unique expressions of Buly.  As Ramdane tells us, the brand is on an important mission: To save traditional but effective beauty secrets from extinction.  Products are made of exotic, artisan-sourced and elaborated ingredients from around the world - but eschew synthetic preservatives. (Does that sound traditional, yet 'of-our-time'?).  Extreme attention is paid to package design featuring vintage graphics, glass, even marble and heavy metal lids.  And what about the environment?  The desire is for this exceptional packaging to be re-discovered and "re-used for decades to come".

The 'selling' includes a lot of un-hurried, highly choreographed rituals (taking time is luxury, after all) such as the origami-like⁴ folding of wrappers over your purchase complete with hand-calligraphed labeling. - That's  called 'Personalization' in modern marketing speak.  And, like most modern 'retail experiences', the latest Officine Buly has a 'food & beverage component'.  But, of course, it is special one.  The 'Cafe Tortoni' is a revival of the famed Paris cafe once frequented and written about by famed authors like Stendhal (in the 'Le Rouge et le Noir'), they serve Madeleines in honor of Marcel Proust... (you get the hang of it?)


Finally, we were told that a major investment into bringing Buly to life (and to your shopping cart) digitally "with a WOW" is close to coming to fruition. (Aka omni-channel and owned-media strategy.)

With this bit of background and our Ueber-Branding framework at hand, you are ready to dive into the interview with Ramdane.  His wife, Victoire de Taillac-Touhami, makes a 'guest appearance' as well.  Its rapid-fire and 'Franglish' at times but we are sure you'll find it inspiring and will want to study this "polymath entrepreneur" and his brand creations more once we are done (further reading provided right below). - Enjoy



For more insights into what drives the success of modern Prestige brands like Buly and many more read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands” about the Ueber-Branding model and method of application and other posts on this blog-cast.

If you want us to help you elevate your own brand, then write to us at

¹ Read this article for a summary of the Ueber-Branding approach and this one specifically on Myth-Making and modern Prestige branding.

Here are links to the official  'Officine Universelle Buly' website as well as the Cire Trudon websites, and our Ueber-Brand case study of Cire Trudon - at a time when Touhami was still involved.

² The story has it that Touhami dropped the second 'l' in the original Bully to get around the unfavorable meaning in English.

³ Umberto Eco talked about a 'better-than-real' or 'fantastic past' as he explored American commercial life and visited Disneyland, which makes some sense when thinking about Buly. Read an essay on Umberto Eco's writing on Hyperreality and judge for yourself what the two brands might have in common.

Ramdane and his wife Victoire de Taillac-Touhami in the boutique in Daikanyama, Japan, the first outside France. This one is built-out half Modern-Minimalist , half Classic - literally.

Here is an interesting piece Dana Thomas has written about Ramdame, his legendary backgound story and his "French Empire" for the New York Times.  Contrast it with an example of how it reads when a Luxury magazine reports on the 'historic French brand' or a fashion blogger's perspective - Blogger Irene says she loves the 'Pommade Virginale' and the brushes engraved with your name...

⁴ Another anecdote: Buly’s 'head wrapper' was trained by the only family that practices origata—the complex craft paper-folding previously reserved for the imperial Japanese court - of course.

For more about that origata wrapping technique, 'A day in the Life of Ramdame Touhami' - and the myth that Touhami's life itself has become by now - in this article in Kinfolk.

A bit of historic research into Jean-Vinvent Bully, the link to Balzac's hero (or not) and the re-interpretation by the Touhami's (- its in French).

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Ramdane Touhami - portrait by Lawrence Mynott


B2B Beyond The Material – Interview with Mohawk Fine Papers’ Creative Director Christopher Harrold

April 24, 2018

Can the principles of Ueber-Branding be applied to B2B brands, to elevate them in the minds of professional buyers and make them ‘priceless’ … or at least less dependent on price?  That’s a question we get asked quite a bit.  The short answer is “Absolutely, Yes!”  …   But, we know, people are hungry for examples that illustrate the point, that talk about an industry “that is not sexy or high tech” and about “small companies with limited budgets.”   That’s because many marketers feel that they are working in a commodity category and/or products that can not be differentiated due to lack of funds. We, however, have not encountered a category or company, yet, that would not be able to execute- and benefit from Ueber-Branding*.

How about a medium-sized paper- and envelope manufacturer  (2017 revenue est. $230 mio) that supplies people who design and print mailers, brochures, catalogs and the like.  Does that sound B2B, small, ‘commoditized’ enough?**  Some might even argue it sounds like a category doomed to die in a digital world.

Well – in this interview we talk with Christopher Harrold about how Mohawk Fine Paper is not only surviving but thriving, by “finding meaning in the making of paper”*** and passing it on through the products their business clients print on or wrap in.  Christopher is the Creative Director at Mohawk and tells us that craft-fully made paper can make you “feel the message before you read it.” – And that is an experience that is increasingly valuable in our sensation-deprived. One shouldn’t be surprised, then, that digital platforms and tech companies are a fast growing customer segment and that clients are willing to pay a significant premium for paper well crafted.

But as you will hear, getting there required a deep believe that paper making is a craft worth preserving – since 1931 – as well as investing time and effort into Ueber-Branding, including deeply understanding the needs of your most devoted users (your ‘Ueber-Target’), educating, enabling and seducing them (versus selling to them) and having patience in developing trust-based relationships, products and services for the long run. We also talk about potential sources of brand strength that are still largely untapped, like a mythical place of provenance and about the logic and fit of a very recent extension into the business-to-consumer space.





*For insights into what drives the success of modern premium brands read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands” and other case-studies on this blog.

If you want us to help you elevate your own brand, then write to us at

**If you want more paper industry ‘Ueber-Brand’ examples, then listen to our interview with the CEO of Renova, a premium (any quirky) toilet paper maker from Portugal or the episode with the co-founder of Moleskine – those little black notebooks with a lot of (hi-)story.  If you are more into the service kind-of-boring, read our case study on Vanguard Investments.

*** Quote from the Mohawk ‘Declaration of Craft’ video – see links below

Here is a link to the Mowhawk website note how they seek to bring the rich experience of paper to live on a digital screen…

See how the Mohawk Fine Paper brochure is a design project in itself. This one was featured in Communication Arts.

Here is our Ueber-Youtube Channel selection of Mohawk films celebrating their craft, ‘meaning in making‘ as well as their marketing tie-ins with clients like

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Taking Brands and People Üeber – JP interviewed by getAbstract co-founder Patrick Brigger

January 29, 2018


Can Ueber-Branding be applied to any industry and brand? How about people as Ueber-Brands?  How do Ueber-Brands elevate themselves above the rest? How do they attract people? – Not only as buyers but as employees? … These are just some of the questions Patrick Brigger asked me in a recent interview for his blog getAbstract ‘life‘ … that tag meaning that I got to answer some personal questions, as well, which I will mostly spare you from listening to in this shortened edit (link to full interview below).

GetAbstract was founded in 1999 by Patrick and two friends.  It is all about evaluating ideas and concepts and ‘compressing knowledge’ so you can assimilate it faster.  They started with business books – and have the largest collection of rated summaries by now (some 15k and counting) – but have expanded into business information-, organizational effectiveness-, self-help- and other areas since.

Of course, our book ‘Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueber-Brands’ can not be missing from their library – in fact, we are quite proud that it out-ranks some of the Aaker, Godin, Kotler or Kapferer ‘bibles’ in their assessment.  Wolf and I were interviewed last year for their newsletter and now they came back after me for this podcast episode on Ueber-Brands, their world, our world, … my world. – Enjoy




For even deeper insights into what drives the success of Ueber-Brands read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands” and some of the many case-studies on this blog or listen to our podcast.

If you want us to help you elevate your own brand, then write to us at

Here are the links to the getAbstract website, the original podcast interview on getAbstract life (2018) and the interview Wolf and I gave for their newsletter (2017).

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A Brand Built By ‘Less’? - Interview with Brandless co-founder Tina Sharkey

January 3, 2018

'Brandless' is the only 'brand' you can buy at the eponymous e-grocer.  As co-founder Tina Sharkey explains, young 'Brandless' is not about the absence of identity or meaning and being a brand in that sense. Rather, it is about changing the way in which a brand connects with constituents and is distributed. Which, in her words, is no less than a 'revolution' in which Brandless seeks to 'abolish the brand tax' (see chart below) used by 'regular brands' to make up stories (aka advertising) and generate profits for everyone across the media employed and the long supply chain - retailers, in particular.

Instead, the vision of a 'Brandless life' is one where you 'shop by values' (ie. 'certified organic') on a website, where labels check-off (what are judged) key product attributes on the front (pics below), where less is more (ie. GMO free, gluten free, no added sugar, no pictures/logos/slogans, etc.), where you swap recipes with the 'Brandless community' and dialogue with the company on what they should add to the lineup.

And every item costs a mere $3, ships for free and an order triggers two meals being donated to NGO Feeding America - provided you signed-up to 'B.More'  for $39/year.  -  'Hurray!' (to quote the site).

The above are just some of the elements Tina talks about - enthusiastically - in our interview, as she illustrates how Brandless executes against a higher mission of 'democratizing goodness' with the help of a motivated team and brilliant agency.  -- You can imagine that we were intrigued.


Is Brandless a blueprint for the 'new way we live and shop ... build communities ... and thus build brands,' as Tina says?  Or is it more simply a savvy shot by two digital serial entrepreneurs at disrupting 'Big CPG and Retail' - or at least scare it enough to buy them out?  The other co-founder, Ido Leffler, wrote a book in 2013 entitled "Get Big Fast and Do More Good' to summarize his experience in 'accelerated brand building' up to that date.  Him and Tina have certainly succeeded to catch attention fast if over 165k Facebook followers (as of Jan 2018) six months into their new venture are a solid indicator.

But is the @BrandlessLife here to stay?   Maybe, the best way to judge might indeed be to take Tina up on her offer and give it a try.  Let us know when you do and what you think.



For insights into what drives the success of modern brands - we call those that succeed to elevate themselves and can charge a premium Ueber-Brands - read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands” and other case-studies on this blog.

If you want us to help you elevate your own brand, then write to us at


Here is a link to the Brandless website and related FAQs on B.More (including that 'Hurray!' answer).

Here is another interview with Tina about how "Hot new e-commerce start-up Brandless is totally obsessed with its own brand" by Alison Grisworld at Quartz magazine.  We learn that the "brand bills itself as the Procter & Gamble of millennials" wanting "people to live more, brand less... and stop the false narratives sold by Madison Avenue".  Out of context quotes or an over-the-top portrayal?  Listen to our interview with Tina and or study the brand talking 'About Us' and you will hear/read that Brandless sees itself a "group of thinkers, eaters, doers and lovers of life with big dreams about changing the world."

Or watch both founders on CBS This Morning


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Making Slow Fashion Grow - Interview with Raleigh Denim Workshop co-founder Victor Lytvinenko

November 6, 2017

Victor and his wife Sarah are in love with making jeans the old, slow way in their Raleigh Denim Workshop. They sewed them themselves and proudly signed every pair when they started out in 2007.  But in the meantime, they employ some two dozen people and 'getting to use the signing Shapie' has become a rite of passage, of sorts, to becoming one of them - a true 'jeans-smith'.  And that's just one of the intriguing stories and quirky details Victor shares in our interview (click the play button below).  You can hear the love in his voice for his partner Sarah, for vintage sewing machines and for the 'good old' time when making things required some physical skill, happened in a workshop somewhere close and yielded objects with 'soul' - a quality beyond what can easily be described, seen or felt.

A steadily increasing number of customers and retailers seem to share their love for 'slow fashion' and feel that it is special.  So special that some make it a point to stop over at their store and workshop in Raleigh, North Carolina or make a special 'pilgrimage' to pick up a few pairs which go for around $200-400 a piece.  The industry has also taken note:  Sarah and Victor were into the coveted CFDA, the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

In the interview, you will also hear Victor tell us ...

  • where, he thinks, this appeal for hand crafted jeans comes from
  • who works for them and who buys their jeans
  • why retailers love to sell Raleigh Denim Workshop products and how
  • what role e-commerce plays compared to brick & mortar

... and how they look at growth and the future - among other things.  What do you think? Ueber-Brand material?

Raleigh denim Workshop, owner, jean and shop



For more insights what drives the success of modern Prestige brands - Ueber-Brands as we call the best of them - wisit our blog at or read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands”.  And if you want us to help you elevate your own brand, then write to us at


Here is a link to the Raleigh Denim Workshop website and store.  And here some Yelp reviews of the brand and store - passionate ... but not always.

It shows how difficult but critical 'living you mission and dream as a brand' is or 'the bubble might burst,' as we write in our book.  Creating and living your brand 'truth' faithfully is not easy and separates the good from the best.

An interesting 'sub-myth' is that of the 'last denim patternmaker' Chris Ellsberg who "works for us but is really our mentor" as Victor says.  They know their storytelling!

Here is a video that tells the RDW story and shows Victor's love for these old machines...

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Cadillac - Resuscitation without Nostalgia nor Provocation? - Interview with Uwe Ellinghaus, CMO

April 26, 2017

Uwe Ellinghaus is CMO of Cadillac and on a mission to revive this icon of American luxury. But rather than starting with automobiles, his vision of Cadillac is one of "an experience that young people associate with modern luxury, ... of a brand that happens to also make cars.' That sounds like a page from our 'Ueber-Brands' research, so we dig deeper in our interview (click play button below).

Ellinghaus tells us that he does not count on rekindling the flame of lapsed Boomer drivers or seek to change the acerbic opinions of skeptical Gen Y-ers.  His focus is on people who are young enough not to have witnessed the clunky Cadillac of the late 70ies through the 90ies but are curious to (re-)discover the brand through a cultural lens, from pop-art and photography to Hollywood movies and Motown music.  And that includes the Chinese many of whom revere American icons and make them part of their modern lifestyle.  What they have in common is "a perception that all their neighbors - and their dad - drives a BMW", he says.

But the CMO does not want Cadillac to be "a nostalgic piece of Americana", either.  'Dare Greatly' is the internal rallying cry and campaign slogan.  TV ads first aired during the Oscar awards in 2015 link the brand to personalities who have dared to dream and did greatly from Teddy Roosevelt to Jason Wu (links below). And, of course, there are the cars, themselves.  One could describe them as the luxury version of the American muscle car (in electric, if desired) - with the Escalade at the over-sized, most daring (or 'bullying'?) - end of the spectrum.  An icon of power in its own right and and across generations, Ellinghaus says.

Yet, the 'daring' seems not to always come easily or without a need for some moderation: Yes, the gallery at Cadillac House in Soho is intended to be an autonomous art space and the Cadillac ad shown during the Oscars urges America to overcome a 'Nation Divided'. Yet the CMO emphasizes that the brand does 'not want to take sides' or 'polarize' with its messages or choices...  Something we are used to hear from brands owned by large shareholding companies seeking to scale. 

In the interview, we also talk about...

  • the role of NYC, fashion, art and casual luxury in Cadillac strategy
  • who he is looking for to join his group (hint: not 'car guys')
  • what luxury can learn from 'boring industries' like banking or insurance
  • why Tesla is an admirable model but not one to follow

Take a listen and a look and let us know your take on these brand building efforts.


Cadillac House Soho and 'Toiletpaper Paradise.' Amateurs do a photo shoot in the walk-in exhibit.

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Cadillac as a Lifestyle: Joe Coffee, cars, casual work space and ... Art


For more insights what drives the success of modern Prestige brands - Ueber-Brands as we call them - read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands” and other case-studies on this blog.

Here is a link to the Cadillac website and the 'Dare Greatly' site. This is the film which uses a speech ('Man in The Arena') by Teddy Roosevelt where he asks Americans to 'Dare Greatly'. The film aired during the 2015 Oscars and kicked off the campaign.   Here are some of the later executions with Steve Wozniak and Jason Wu.

This is the 'Nation Divided' film that aired during the Oscars and a critical review by James B Stewart at the New York times of it and socio-political messages by other brands.


Burt’s Bees - Mission, Myth and a Buzzing Business – Interview with Jim Geikie, General Manager

January 6, 2017

Yes, Burt really existed. The wild-bearded man on the brand's logo was a documentary photographer turned beekeeper after moving from Manhattan to Maine and leaving the trappings of a rather privileged upbringing behind him to live in a converted turkey coop in the backwoods (where he also died in 2015).  But it is unlikely that you or I would ever hear about Burt and his bees and it is certain we would not be able to moisturize your lips with one of the iconic balms that bear their name, if it was not for a woman: Roxanne Quimby. It turns out that Burt played the role of mentor and muse, of an enigmatic, spiritual Ueber-Father of the brand, while Roxanne was the ingenious product developer and business builder who really made 'Burt's Bees happen' as Jim Geikie tells us.

And Jim should know.  He is the General Manager of the business today and a Vice President at Clorox, the parent company which bought the business in 2007 for a whopping $925 million in cash.  Burt had been bought out by previously by Roxanne for just $130,000 but apparently never complained  ... which provides just one of the many ingredients to this mythical story that is the man, the couple, the bees, the product... But before we get into the myth, Jim lays out Burt's Bees guiding mission.  For, while Burt's Bees is no Luxury brand, its nature and health-centric mission and befitting myth have allowed the brand to carve out a premium position within the mass personal care and beauty segment. Jim and I will also talk about:

  • what makes the business buzz despite a 300% price premium and no discounts
  • when to say 'No' to the easy way forward and how to justify it
  • how to balance the needs of brand, parent company and consumer
  • who works at Burt's Bees -why and how they join
  • why Jim thinks corporate ownership of mission-driven brands in not only the norm but a good model for everyone involved.


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For more insights what drives the success of Ueber-Brands like Burt's Bees, read our Ueber-Brands blog and book “Rethinking Prestige Branding”.


Below is a document on Burt's Bees culture that Jim shared and which reflects some of the values he talked about and the growth model Burt's Bees' organization  follows (click to view/download the full document)


Below are the 'Memorial Hive' on the outside facade of the headquarter and Burt's hut that was being re-build in front of the building while I visited.

One can't miss the detailed bees painted across the brick facade. They were painted by artist Matthew Willey with the help of Burt's Bees employees. Willey has pledged to paint 50,000 bees (the number of bees in a healthy hive) to help awareness for Colony Collapse Disorder (we talk about it briefly in the interview) and raise funds to help find a cure for this phenomenon that threatens to wipe out native bees across North America (article in the local newspaper).





Profit and/or Purpose? – Interview with Venture Capitalist and Social Activist David Batstone

December 5, 2016

David Batstone is not one to be easily typecast.  As you learn more about David you might get a bit perplexed not only by the uncounted, very public projects in which he plays a leading role or the multitude of positions he holds but by their often different, seemingly opposing character: theology scholar, journalists, venture capitalist, ethics professor, businessman, human rights activist…

Among many other things, David is Founder and President of ‘Not For Sale‘ a non-profit organization and campaign that seeks to eliminate factors which facilitate modern slavery around the world. He also is Co-Founder and Senior Managing Partner at ‘Just Business,’ a San Francisco a much for profit venture capital firm and very much personally invested in its holdings such as REBBL a line of “super-herb health drinks that grows faster than any other in health food stores,” he says.  A declared liberation theologian, David teaches ethics at the Jesuit Catholic University of San Francisco, writes books and still somehow finds time to come up with- and start-up new businesses on his own such as Z-Shoes a line of ‘biodegradable shoes’ that are sourced from the Peruvian Amazon. Actually, his son is a co-creator and the first round of investing went through kickstarter …

How might this all fit together?  David says he is leveraging his disciplined venture capitalist approach to create a vertically integrated ‘group for good’… ‘where people in developed markets can buy according to their values’ and where socially disadvantaged people in remote areas like the Amazon are provided with the funds or tools needed to provide their local goods and talent rather than be driven into poverty and slavery.


Ingenious? Too Good to be True?  

Meaningful Marketing or Marketing Ploy?


Listen to the interview with David and let us know what you think on our blog!




To read more about how other brands seek to create meaning beyond the material check out other case studies on our blog, podcast and read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands”.



Patagonia, the Activist Company - Interview with Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy

November 3, 2016

Patagonia is the quintessential Ueber-Brand. This brand is fascinating and we have written extensively about what we think drives and sustains its success in our latest book as well as on our blog.  But it is quite another thing to hear it all directly from 'one of the family' - quite literally.  For Vincent Stanley is not only Patagonia's 'Director of Philosophy', previously VP of Marketing and Communications as well as co-author with company founder Yvon Chouinard of "The Responsible Company," the bible for leaders who seek to do good while doing business. He is also Yvon's nephew and became one of the very first employees in the early 70'ies when he helped him extend the chicken coop in the back yard that served as 'equipment forge', as he will tell us.

In this interview we will touch on most of the elements of Ueber-Branding beginning with Patagonia's strong sense of Mission, the brand's Myth, the product to Behold, how the organization 'Lives the Dream', 'Un-Sells' and how they strive for Responsible Growth.  We will also get insights into:

  • why the choice was to run Patagonia, not a foundation to protect the environment
  • what is authenticity vs 'putting on a show' when it comes to maintaining the myth
  • how content marketing and social media come naturally to Patagonia - since 1972
  • who and how they set themselves up to evolve and grow while keeping their soul

And, of course, we will talk about the famous ad Vincent ran not to sell more but to change the way we feel and think about owning a garment (despite his denying, we still think it also helped sell more Patagonia ;-)

Patagonia Activism in a Chicago store. A call to help save the air, earth, water and recycle your worn gear.
Patagonia Activism in a Chicago store: A call to help save our air, water, soil and to recycle your gear.

If you liked what you heard in the 'official' part you will love the take-outs from the chat we had after the official interview was over. Hang around to hear why:

  • poor people and nations pay the price for fast fashion and cheap garments
    (Or: Why $29 for a trucker hat is not creaming but rather not charging enough)
  • environmental consciousness is a great engine for innovation and attracting talent
Yvon Chouinard and that mission statement Vincent talks about - more relevant now than ever.


For more insights what drives the success of Ueber-Brands like Patagonia, read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands”.  For a detailed case study of Patagonia, background materials  and other case-studies, check out our blog.

Want to compare and contrast the Patagonia story with another environmentally conscious brand that 'shines from the inside out'?  Then read about our visit to the Freitag bag making plant in Switzerland here.


Audemars Piguet - Adversity and Complications Make a Brand – Interview with Tim Sayler, CMO

October 8, 2016

Audemars Piguet is up there, even in the already elevated world of 'haute horlogerie' and the Swiss Alps.  Le Brassus in the high valley of Joux is the birthplace and still the place of hand-crafting AP watches as Tim Sayler, Chief Marketing Officer of the brand is proud and precise in pointing out to us. And pride, precision and a strong sense of place are some of the key ingredients we talk, as we discuss what has made this brand and how it stays up there in the firmament of desired objects - despite the meteoric rise of first industrial quartz watches and now smart watches. Or because of it.

We will also talk about:

  • how a hostile environment, boredom and a complicated way can guide success
  • what keeps AP up there in the cold and remote valley of Joux
  • who pays a fortune for a watch when time can be told with precision by their phone
  • why complications, constraints and pulling back can be a great way to grow

Above Tim Sayler framed by the watch on his wrist which is the same iconic 'Royal Oak' model featured in his advertisements.  The copy reads 'To Break The Rules You must First Master Them.'  These watches are 'skeletonized' -ie hand-carved - out of a block of metal, as Tim will explain.  'Obsessively complex', indeed.  -  Enjoy

le-brassus-ap-office-and-museum-collage.AP headquarters and museum in Le Brassus and the valley of Joux

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For more insights what drives the success of Ueber-Brands, read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands” as well as further case-studies on this blog.

Here is a link to the AP websitethe backstory on the photography of Le Brassus used by AP by Dan Holdsworth and an article on the spectacular architecture of the AP watch museum (see pictures above).

Want to compare and contrast the AP story with that of lifestyle watch maker Shinola? Then listen to our interview with Shinola CMO Bridget Russo here.