Soon Yu, Author, Iconic Advantage; Friction

Soon Yu, Author, Iconic Advantage; Friction

Soon Yu, Author, Iconic Advantage; Friction

He regularly consults business leaders on developing meaningful Iconic Signature Elements, Iconic Brand Language (TM), Signature Moments and Signature Communication



With the fast-paced business environment and competition, there is a constant race to create a long-lasting brand relevance. In that attempt, companies end up overthinking, trying to replicate or overpower their competition. The need is to understand the power of their products or services and leverage it for the audiences accordingly.

Today’s guest, Soon Yu, an award-winning author, speaks about creating brand relevance with existing product innovation and ethical delivery promises. 

About Soon Yu

Soon Yu is a speaker and an award-winning author on innovation and design. He has written the book “Iconic Advantage: Don’t Chase the New, Innovate the Old.” The book is based on the importance of the power of innovation for longevity. The Forbes contributor who has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times is soon coming with his second book, titled “Friction”. 


Soon calls himself a brand nerd for his curiosity to study how brands are created, nurtured, and grown. He has studied around 50 companies and realized that brand success depends on an intentional strategy.

He says, “I love the idea that brand is a leading and living thing.”

Soon feels that longevity and distinctive relevance are the hallmarks of a successful brand. He adds, “Having longevity or distinctive relevance makes you often times the standard-bearer, and that allows you to then achieve that level of iconicity.”

Soon states the three key features of a successful brand: 

  • Having something distinctive
  • The distinction needs to be relevant to the audience
  • Having recognition.  

Brand Longevity

For a brand to survive a hundred years, it needs to have three powers, which he states as:

  • Noticing power
  • Staying power, i.e., to create timeless relevance 
  • Packing the benefit into new technologies with changing business environment.

He elaborately cites the example of Nike shoes as a brand that continues to have these powers with their impeccable innovation, design, and timeliness of deliveries.

Building a Startup Brand

Soon feels that almost every startup aspires to be either the first or the biggest or the best innovator. He, however, feels the power lies in a better brand story.

He says, “Startups need to analyze their DNA. The question is, what is your archetype and promise. Last, in delivering that promise, how do you do it better, more unique or different.”

It is about embodying your DNA. 

Soon also talks a bit about his upcoming book, “Friction.” He feels terrible at the idea of becoming frictionless and seamless. Soon stresses the importance of friction. He feels that we need to get rid of the bad friction and accept the good friction that creates drama, meaning, exclusivity eliciting happy chemicals.


Soon Yu is an international speaker, award winning author on innovation and design and Forbes contributor who has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine and New York Times. 

His book, Iconic Advantage®, challenges businesses, from Fortune 500 to venture-backed startups, to refocus their innovation priorities on building greater iconicity, and offers deeper insights on establishing timeless distinction and relevance.  He regularly consults business leaders on developing meaningful Iconic Signature Elements, Iconic Brand Language (TM), Signature Moments and Signature Communication

He most recently served as the Global VP of Innovation and Officer at VF Corporation, parent organization to over 30 global apparel companies, including The North Face, Vans, Timberland, Nautica and Wrangler.  While at VF, Soon created a $2 billion innovation pipeline, established 3 global innovation centers, and initiated industry-leading design best practices.

Prior to this he worked at The Clorox Company and Chiquita Brands, where he won company-wide awards for best advertising, best promotion and best new product, and gained industry recognition from the Webby Award, Favorite Website Award and Dope Award. He has also been a consultant at Bain and Company, and a founder and CEO for numerous venture-backed startups (including Gazoontite, Promeo Technologies and TWRL) and was recognized as a Northern California finalist for the prestigious Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award.

He is a highly sought after speaker on innovation, design and entrepreneurship, a Forbes contributor, and teaches at Parsons School of Design and often guest lectures at Stanford University (where he received his MBA and is active with the GSB Asian Alumni Association).

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