How Brands Can Apply Design Thinking with Alain Sylvain

alain sylvain on brand

“People tend to see strategy and design as two separate things.” As the founder and CEO of Sylvain Labs, Alain Sylvain sits at the intersection of strategy and design. We discussed this including several examples of design thinking at work on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

Enjoy This Episode Now

About Alain Sylvain

Alain Sylvain is the founder and CEO of Sylvain Labs, a strategy and design consultancy that helps companies seize the reality and potential of their business, products and brands. Clients include, Google, American Express, Airbnb, Spotify, Blackrock, Samsung, Pepsico, AB InBev, Jet, IKEA, GM, Sonos, the NBA, and others. Founded in 2010, the company is headquartered in NYC, with offices in Amsterdam and Richmond, VA, and a Certified B-Corporation.

In addition to Sylvain Labs, Alain is a partner and investor in several ventures, including Master + Dynamic, a design-driven, premium audio brand, So Choice Softworks, a mobile gaming company, Lilo, an açai bowl company, and PetMio, a smart pet food startup. In addition, he has served as executive producer on short documentaries, including Some Kind of Quest and Instafame.

He has been featured in various news outlets and is a current board member of Plus Pool and the VCU Brandcenter.

Episode Highlights

The trouble with strategy and design. “People tend to see strategy and design as two separate things — maybe we’re part of the problem because we list them together!” Alain laughed. Design means many things. It can be “at the Adobe level” (graphic design) but it also means design thinking.

With a plethora of definitions, what does design thinking actually mean? “It’s really more of a statement about what it’s not. It’s not graphic design. It’s about channeling the end user as you think and design.” We also talked about how business can corrupt words and phrases like design thinking and story.

Where does Alain see design thinking at work? “Look at any major category — in mattresses you have Casper, in eyewear you have Warby Parker, in insurance there’s Oscar. Design is at the core of all of these.”

What brand has made Alain smile recently? “There’s something magical going on at Spotify. It’s a brand — despite their best attempts! But is has utility in my life.”

To learn more, go to the Sylvain Labs website.

As We Wrap …

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

On Brand is sponsored by my new book Brand NowDiscover the seven dynamics to help your brand stand out in our crowded, distracted world. Order now and get special digital extras. Learn more.

  • Subscribe to the podcast – You can subscribe to the show via Apple PodcastsStitcher, Google PlayTuneIn, and RSS.
  • Rate and review the show – If you like what you’re hearing, head over to Apple Podcasts and click that 5-star button to rate the show. And, if you have a few extra seconds, write a couple of sentences and submit a review. This helps others find the podcast.
  • OK. How do you rate and review a podcast? Need a quick tutorial on leaving a rating/review in iTunes? Check this out.

Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!