Week 47: If not now, then when?

Wandering off the beaten path is uncomfortable, but necessary. A few examples of unusual decisions we made within this first year.

Hey there, this is Harry, one of the founders of diesdas.digital, a friendly branding and product development studio in Berlin. Each week we summarize what we encounter as a young company: challenges, discoveries, learnings, insights.

This week’s highlight was a conference talk I gave at #dynfntdy in Munich, for which we built a rather unusual slide deck. Curious? Cool! But before we get into that, we gotta contextualize a bit and talk about the broader topic of doing unconventional things! Stay with me!

Last slide of the talk reborn as first image of this post. #cycleoflife

Ever since we founded diesdas.digital in December 2015 we were confronted with an onslaught of decisions to make. While the idea behind the company is pretty common and unoriginal (a digital strategy-design-development studio), we like to think that the way we’re operating is at least slightly unusual.

It starts with the name …

When we announced that we’d call our baby diesdas.digital (German for digital this & that) we saw a lot of skeptical faces looking back at us. “Really?”, “Isn’t that too silly?”, “Nobody will take you seriously.” were some of the common reactions. Obviously we had asked ourselves the very same questions … oscillating between “hell yeah, we should do this, it’s fun!” and “sorry folks, we’re taking it too far”. Ultimately we decided that the name was a good fit for what we wanted to do, being self-ironic, and so we just went with it. As it turns out it is super memorable and people generally like it.

Disclosing our day rate

The same happened when we decided to put our day rate openly on our website (it’s 800€, in case you wondered) … nobody else in the agency space is doing this, but we felt that being up-front about this very crucial number would prevent a lot of awkward discussions in later stages of project negotiations. This most definitely turned out to be true.

A no-bullshit website

Speaking of our website itself: This week we had a meeting with a potential partner agency and they said they wanted to talk to us specifically because our website was so un-agency-like, free of buzzwords and straight to the point. Indeed this was exactly our intention: We could’ve drooled over our “holistic approach” and how we “create user-centered, engaging products that lead to delightful and relevant experiences”, but this is not how we choose to talk about our work. We frequently get super positive feedback: people tell us they read all of it and for the first time an agency website made sense to them, as it spoke their language. It may look obvious in hindsight, but finding this tonality wasn’t easy.

An honest pitch

“Can we get away with this?” was also a constant question when we participated in a pitch this summer, refusing to do any speculative design and instead simply outlining our approach to the challenges at hand. We knew that some of the competing agencies were doing full-fledged branding and design mock-ups, but we felt we didn’t know the client, the target audience nor the product well enough to do that. So we did what felt right and in the end the client agreed, hiring us for the job.

An analog set of slides for a digital conference

And then this week we knew that I would give a talk in Munich on Saturday, at the #dynfntdy typography conference. When we started building our slide deck we realized that we didn’t want to participate in the competition for accurate, typographically beautiful slides and so we decided to hand-draw them all instead. That’s right, we didn’t use a single typeface or photo, instead making the slides intentionally scrappy and goofy, going full analog. I was seriously worried if this would be perceived as an insult by the audience, since very few people there knew me or us before; but the feedback was super positive and people got the joke.

Point of all this being: Every decision is an opportunity: you can go for the comfortable, safe route or do something unconventional. The latter bears a risk and the question “can we actually do this?” is haunting for sure, but whenever we decided to deviate from the beaten track this year, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. So here’s to a little risk now and then! Originality is fun! 🎉

[I’m not saying that any of the above points are radical, but I do like to think that some of them are a breath of fresh air in the agency space. At least that’s what people tell us. 🙃]

Some impressions from the talk and preparations. The huge pile of sticky notes is everything we didn’t use.

What else?

A whole lot! We thought last week was packed, but oh boy, this one was much worse. Apart from the talk preparations, we brought Robert Haase in to work on a branding project together, which has been great fun so far, yielding fantastic results! 👏

The launch of the TypeMates website is approaching and we will have a lot more to share next week. 😱

On Friday we visited our future office again, and we’re happy to see that the renovations are proceeding as planned. We can’t wait to finally have our own space in February. 😍

A few of us played badminton on Tuesday after work and I am looking forward to overcome the usual beginning-of-winter-cold and join them next time! 🏸

And last but not least: It’s Nicolás birthday today! All the best, buddy, so glad you’re with us! 👑

And that’s it for this week!

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Take care!
Your friends at diesdas.digital

diesdas.digital is a nimble branding and product development studio in Berlin, featuring an interdisciplinary team of seven designers, developers and strategists, each with years of experience in branding, interaction design and programming. We create tailor-made digital solutions with an agile mindset and a smile on our faces.

Wanna team up for a project? We’d be delighted! Simply shoot us an email, reach out on Twitter, drop us a message on Facebook, or send us grimaces via Snapchat. We’re also on Instagram and we got gifs over on tumblr, just sayin’. No matter the channel: We’re listening and can’t wait to hear from you! 🙌

All hands on deck!
Umm, okay.
Pros at work.
The pack feasting on falafel.
Hey Robert! Welcome!
Two perspectives, same moment.
Lorenz taking a break from development.
Me writing this recap on the flight back from Munich.
Bye! Until next time! 💛 👋