Advertising in the Modern Age: Quotes from Branding Guru Peter Arnell

In our visually saturated world today, it’s hard to rise to the top. For any branding or advertising expert in New York, or around the world, there are so many factors to consider and ways to approach an audience. With the advent of social media, we now receive more visual stimulation than most people know what to do with; so how is a branding expert supposed to make their message rise above the noise?

Peter Arnell has been answering that question for over four decades, and his words and explanations of how to navigate this saturated landscape can be an invaluable aid to those getting started. In an interview in Vogue with Ulf Poschardt, Peter Arnell shared many important pieces of advice that stand on their own far better than they do if summarized. Here are a few:

“With architecture, I learned to think in an orderly fashion,” explains Arnell. “Everything has its foundation, its pillars, and its top. Just like every story has an introduction, a plot, and a conclusion. And it is just as important to proportion these things correctly in advertising as it is in architecture. Besides that, you learn to create spaces in which people can live. I try to implement that in advertising as well.”

As Peter Arnell said, “I give people space to involve themselves with images. The right questions are being asked…perhaps that has to do with morality.”

“Very simple. You explain to people: I have a product, and here I am. Plain and simple.”

“Advertising in America today usually says ‘Buy me!’ before it says ‘Here I am’. That’s the problem in America.”

“I believe that people are smarter than they used to be. They’ve learned to understand media messages more quickly and more clearly. Advertising today must be strong and precise.”

These messages from Arnell are an important roadmap for anyone working in the field of branding today. They offer suggestions and ideas for creating focus and for understanding what the priorities are as you start a new branding program. Peter Arnell has the body of work and success behind him – now it’s up to others to create their mark as he has.


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)gowanuslounge.com.