Edwin Schmidheiny on International Branding

Edwin Schmidheiny in this interview shares his thoughts on the meaning and purpose of brands, international branding and the differences and similarities between commercial and place branding.

Edwin is Creative Director with Accent Brand Consultants AG in Zurich, a Swiss agency specialized in the development of international brands.

Edwin, you have four decades of experience in design and branding. Do you remember what first got you interested in this area of work?

Internationality

My area of expertise is international branding, and it has become my theme. I have always been interested in the world, I always wanted to see it.

I guess this is a fairly Swiss trait; coming from our unique small country with our unique place in the world, we have an interest in expanding our horizons and in engaging with the world. I have worked and lived in many places around the globe but have never been the only Swiss anywhere. Wherever you go, there is some compatriot already there.

This desire to see the world motivated me to venture to California in the mid 70s, which was already then the place where the future was born. I was lucky to have worked with two of the most influential designers of that time: Saul Bass and Walter Landor. They revolutionized the world of design and were pioneers of many global brands (i.e. AT&T, Minolta, WWF, Levi’s, FedEx, etc.). This showed me the magic of branding – that brands truly have the power to change the world. Walter Landor’s statements are still quoted to this day as the axioms of branding (“Products are made in the factory, brands are created in the mind”).

Coming from a Swiss school of design which was admired in those days and sought after worldwide, I profited already then from the brand of Switzerland.

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