The Design Business Show 157: The Science Behind Branding + Equity Design with Chloé Nwangwu

Director : Melissa Burkheimer | September 20, 2021
Check out episode 157 of The Design Business Show with Chloé Nwangwu to learn all about her unique perspectives on branding + design!

N.Chloé Nwangwu is a brand scientist, digital diplomacy advisor, and behavioral strategist. Most recently, she advised the first refugee delegation to the UN.

Here’s what we covered on the episode:

Chloé’s Start in Tech & Design

  • How Chloé and I connected through Hunter Niland Welling
  • Chloé shares that building her own computer at 8-years-old started her relationship with tech and that design entered her life when her job required her to create brochures about computer needs for students and when she learned how to code in order to create her own blog
  • How Chloé didn’t go to school for design or tech, she was doing international affairs and psychology but started using design professionally in grad school to help pay her rent
  • When Chloé worked for Time Out Magazine she was helping with layouts, copy editing, and copywriting which was the first time she used design professionally
  • The story of how Chloé’s first magazine job in Nigeria landed her the gig for Time Out in Israel while in grad school
  • Chloé shares a time she was challenged by a project in grad school but was able to build a website and offer a solution to help a local municipality
  • How Chloé helped many organizations on a volunteer basis by designing collateral for them and helping with anything social media / tech-related
  • When Chloé got a job at a big nonprofit, she would help them during the day, and at night she would be supporting all the nonprofits she had picked up along the way with their design needs, which was when design really started being a part of what she did each day

NobiWorks + Chloé’s Brand Perspective

  • Eventually, Chloé left her nonprofit job and started NobiWorks, which is her firm that she started about 5 years ago
  • How NobiWorks started out as a website design and development company and expanded into branding, brand design, and visual identity design
  • How Chloé wanted to integrate all the things she had learned from when she was doing equity work, anti-bias work, international relations, and conflict mediation into NobiWorks, which took a lot of time to figure out she admits
  • Chloé’s explains her mission is to support folks who she considers historically overlooked leaders and she explains what that means to her
  • How Chloé created a research-based brand development framework that helps historically overlooked leaders emerge from the margins in a way that avoids the overwhelm that these leaders might face if they were to do everything by themselves
  • How Chloé’s background in social psychology, behavioral science, and neuroscience help set her apart from other brand strategists and she explains why she calls herself a brand scientist because everything they do is based on data or insights they have about how the brain works
  • Why the typical definition of a brand is not useful for Chloé as a brand scientist, and how she describes a brand as a system of ideas that influences people and influences their behavior
  • The most important thing as a brand scientist is that the visual and verbal communication of your brand can capture attention and get past the filtering mechanism of the brain
  • Chloé explains the type of people she works with and explains what connects them all is the fact that they’re using their business or organization to shift the status quo to something that is less poisonous than what we currently have and gives an example of how they’re doing this
  • When Chloé realized she wanted to mesh the tech/design and international relations/conflict mediation parts of her life, she started reaching out to people she knew in that sector
  • How every country has a brand that determines how that country is treated and how other countries act in relation to that country, so because of that Chloé says, every country needs brand development, brand building, strategic direction, etc.
  • How company and organization branding needs are similar to the branding needs of countries

Including Historically Overlooked Leaders in the Design Space

  • How one of Chloé’s fellowships where she practiced a lot of digital diplomacy in the field helped informed her on how to do all of this work and how a lot of the connections she made through that fellowship led to consulting work
  • Chloé explains that BIPOC stands for, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, or Person of Color
  • If we truly cared about Black people and other people with non-dominate identities in the brand and design space, Chloé believes that our practices would look different and she explains what she means by that and gives an example
  • How Chloé doesn’t just build the ideal customer avatar, she has an avatar of a gatekeeper because a lot of these historically overlooked leaders face extra barriers that come in many forms
  • We need to be analyzing social dynamics that surround historically overlooked leaders, we need to be aware of the power dynamics that may be keeping them where they are, or blocking them off from certain opportunities, and all of these factors need to be input into the design choices that we make and in the strategy we deliver
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Chloé suggests looking at your visuals to start and thinking about who you’re inviting in with those visuals
  • Chloé knows that all the injustice in the world can feel like too much to handle but shares what someone once told her which was, you just have to focus on your part of the wall
  • Check out NobiWorks, Connect with Chloé on Instagram and LinkedIn, and if you’re interested in hearing more about any of this stuff, go to to sign up for Chloé’s private podcast called, Midweek Lab Note


Links mentioned:


Connect with Chloéon Instagram

Connect with Chloé on LinkedIn

Midweek Lab Note


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