057. Greg Hoffman: Emotion by Design


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Greg Hoffman is Nike's former Chief Marketing Officer, a global brand leader, advisor, and speaker, and the author of Emotion by Design: Creative Leadership Lessons From a Life at Nike.

In his book, Greg shares lessons and stories on the power of creativity drawn from almost three decades of experience within the company. It's a celebration of creativity and a call-to-arms for brand-builders to rediscover the human element that makes consumer bonds.


In this conversation we talk about:

  • How he developed his love of art and design sensibility.
  • Growing up in branding inside of Nike, until eventually becoming Chief Marketing Officer.
  • The importance of emotion and storytelling.
  • On authenticity, and why chasing cool is a bad idea.
  • On creativity as a team sport.
  • And on the importance of courage.

We talked in mid-June 2022 and I was looking forward to talking to Greg because Nike clearly is doing some amazing work around branding and brand values, and is able again and again to create authentic connections at scale.

I'm a latecomer to the world of branding. For much of my life, I was an avid product person and saw the brand as an afterthought. It's only in recent years that I understood the extent to which our lives, our thinking, and our decisions are driven by the stories we tell, and the emotional associations we make.

The art of doing that well is branding. And it can be used for good or evil, and is just as important in non-profits and political organizations as it is in business.

I really enjoyed the stories of some of Nike's iconic campaigns. Digging in to find compelling ways to tell stories that illustrate and support your values in a real way, feels like a very human way of crafting a brand that people can believe in.

I've counted the episodes that we already have recorded and edited for you, and it's currently eight episodes. There are famous designers like Vicki Tan and John Maeda, authors like Susie Wise and Ashish Goel, and the most connected man in the world, Chris Dancy, among them. We release conversations weekly with thinkers, designers, makers, authors, entrepreneurs, and activists who are working to change our world for the better. So follow this podcast on your favorite podcast app, or head over to RemakePod.org to subscribe.

And now, let's jump right in with Greg Hoffman.


[4:39] Life in the Present

[5:38] Early Childhood Driving Forces

[7:29] An Age of Color Blindness

[9:18] The Power of Drawing

[12:52] Joining Nike

[16:27] What is Branding?

[18:12] The Importance of Emotions

[23:57] Crafting Authenticity

[32:44] Developing a Culture of Risk-Taking

[35:19] Find Your Greatness

[38:06] Believe in Something

[41:04] Designing Dreams

[45:52] A Short Sermon