Velocity revisited: key quotes from Stefan Olander and Ajaz Ahmed for brand marketers in 2013


I recently rediscovered my copy of Velocity: The Seven New Laws for a World Gone Digital, written by Ajaz Ahmed of AKQA and Stefan Olander of Nike, and published last summer.

In it are dozens of tabs bookmarking pages with my favourite quotes on, so I thought I’d share some of them here. It’s one of the most valuable books I’ve read regarding the movement of digital communications for brand marketers, and highly applicable to the fashion industry just as much throughout.

If you haven’t already, do pick up a copy – I defy you to get through it without likewise picking up the highlighter pen…

Stefan: “Without a platform to manage and nurture every interaction with its consumer, a company has no spine.”

Ajaz: “We’re in the age of connectedness. The solution is to create work that people want to share. Ideas that define culture rather than follow it.”

Stefan: “Belief in your ideas and an environment that encourages risk taking is incredibly important to create acceleration.”

Ajaz: “The philosophy has to be: let’s use the technology to make this the best way to do something, or let’s not bother doing it at all. The goal has to be about making a new experience an order of magnitude better than the existing way.”

Stefan: “People will usually thank you for taking the responsibility to curate their choices, for making things simpler for them, for doing the truly inconvenient stuff on their behalf. This means editing down product lines and ramping up product benefit.”

Ajaz: “Brands that have authentic, believable values use the spirit and energy of those convictions to ease effortlessly into any new environment. Even with a pre-digital heritage, they’ve found interesting methods and ideas to express their stories.”

Stefan: “We’re not chasing eyeballs. The goal is to create connections with our customers and earn their loyalty by serving them. The better the service, the stronger the connection.”

These two guests comments also stood out:

Trevor Edwards, VP of brand and categories at Nike: “The single biggest opportunity today is that buying a product or service marks the beginning of the consumer relationship.”

And in the intro by Richard Branson: “We’re living through a time of big and little changes in the way we do just about everything and the only people and organisations guaranteed to make fools of themselves are the ones who think they have got it all figured out.”

Now there’s something to consider for the year ahead…

Rachel Arthur is a business journalist specialising in fashion and technology. Alongside her work as the founder and editor of Fashion & Mash, she regularly contributes to titles including Forbes, Wired, The Daily Telegraph, The Business of Fashion, Fashionista, Mashable, Dazed and more. She is a regular speaker at conferences around the world, as well as an advisor on digital strategy and innovation to leading retail and luxury brands, and a mentor to start-ups on the likes of John Lewis’ JLAB accelerator programme. She was previously based in New York as a senior editor for leading online fashion trade publication and trend forecaster WGSN, where she managed global coverage of the industry from a communications, branding and technology standpoint.


  1. Thanks for distilling these! My favourite is: “We’re in the age of connectedness. The solution is to create work that people want to share. Ideas that define culture rather than follow it.” You can read more of Ajaz’s thoughts on advertising and the internet industry in “Pioneers of Digital: Success Stories from Leaders in Advertising, Marketing, Search and Social Media” He graciously gave us his time and we dedicated a whole chapter to his pioneering efforts.