Pauli Aalto-Setälä: I am suspicious of beliefs.


Pauli Aalto-Setälä is a seasoned editor-in-chief, media influencer and entrepreneur as well as Professor of Practice at Turku School of Economics. On 8 February 2022, he joined the board of Brand ID Group.

As you are originally from the Satakunta region, it’s kind of a homecoming, isn’t it?

“That’s right. Returning to Satakunta warms my heart. I have already received a lot of messages from my relatives saying it’s high time for me to finally work here. My family hails from Kokemäki, and I went to primary school in Pori.”

You have made a long career in journalism. What does Pauli Aalto-Setälä the journalist bring to the table?

“Well, at least the journalistic attitude, as in, I am suspicious of beliefs. As a board member, it will probably come across as valuing information and data and challenging beliefs. I may ask quite a lot of questions.”

“People make 90% of their decisions based on emotion, but business operations rely on analysis and logic. You shouldn’t cling on to a belief which may not be true. Many mistakes are still made on the basis of redundant beliefs.”

You are known as a digitalisation guru. How do you feel about Brand ID’s relatively concrete products?

“Concrete feels fun. In all its versatility, Brand ID inspires me. On the one hand, you have the strategies at the top level. On the other, it is inspiring to deal with the customers in-store. The way it looks, feels and sounds. The way everything is implemented.”

“You should also keep in mind that Brand ID has several digital dimensions: business development, improving the flow of the line as well as Kaizen, for example.”

Online stores or brick-and-mortar – what’s your view?

“Brick-and-mortar stores and digital are not mutually exclusive. For instance, digital pricing in the store space. In the future, we will be seeing a lot of hybrid stores, combinations of online stores and brick-and-mortar stores.”

“Now, in the time of the pandemic, online retail has made massive strides forwards: a million new customers have done their shopping online. At the same time, brick-and-mortar sales in the US are growing in double figures. And so it is possible to develop both at the same time. There is no contradiction there. It is a question of investment and models, and finding the best ways to serve your customers. The customer’s success is the be-all and end-all of everything, whatever the channels required.”

But digitalisation will still continue?

“Research has proved beyond doubt that in the time of disruption, when the established operating models come crumbling down, the companies that thrive are the companies with better-than-average management that make the most of new technologies.”

“For Brand ID, this is an opportunity. We were already finding solutions to previous turning points. We will also find them to the current and future ones. For old, experienced business, a turning point is a challenge. But at the same time, it is also a business opportunity and a chance to grow, as long as you have the bravery to adopt new technologies and develop your management model.”

In your book, you talk about the Lean philosophy, and Brand ID uses the Kaizen approach, which is based on Lean.

“Kaizen was one of the really interesting things, when I was mulling over joining Brand ID. Kaizen is one of the reasons why Brand ID is able to scale, and pretty quickly. You often hear that we’re a people of engineers, but implementation all the way to the process stage is pretty weak, and that is not the way to greatness. At the end of the day, you are just managing processes and people. A scalable process is the primus motor of success.”