An interview with Mark van Egmond

VBAT Refreshing
Oct 5, 2017 · 6 min read

written by Marjolein Brokkelkamp
published by MarketingTribune

Image Source: Zuiver beeld

Brand design is not an end product but one continuous process.

Just before the summer Branding & Design Agency VBAT launched their new core proposition:

‘We Design Change’.

The new vision exactly reflects on what the agency has been doing for almost 35 years: designing change for organisations and brands.

Mark van Egmond, board member at VBAT and responsible for strategy, explains the driving forces behind the repositioning: “There are many changes going on. Organizations we work for and work with are facing globalisation; societies, cultures and economies are growing closer together.

Additionally, for companies it is a big challenge to fulfill very different and often very individual customer needs around the world at its best, and keep the brand language consistent at the same time.

Also, the dynamics in many sectors have changed. For example, think of Financial Services: There has been a shift from service on site to primarily digital services.

With our decades of international experience we can help customers to recognise or explore change and adequately react to it. With ‘We Design Change’ as a motto we underline our vision and approach with which
we want to embrace the rapid changes in the market and the world.“

Telling the story behind the brand

“VBAT reflects the change that makes brands recognisable, solid and future-proof, “continues Van Egmond. “It’s one continuous development process, constantly exploring ideas and testing them versus predefined goals and practical feasibility. Technology makes it possible to test the consequences of adjustments even more aware, faster, and more efficiently.

The brands who enter into a collaboration with VBAT understand that there is much more to design than a beautiful layout.

A consistent corporate design, an appealing packaging design, a carefully designed retail place where you meet the brand, or however a brand presents itself, are definitely important. But in order to be a strong brand, you have to tell the story behind the brand in everything that has to do with the brand — that is the specialization of VBAT.
In other words: In everything you do as an organisation, it’s a matter of importance to start an interaction with the target group, and to keep it going. You will reach that through a consistency in design, behaviour, and engagement in each touch point in the customer journey . VBAT still does complete rebranding, but in addition we are becoming more and more commonly involved in the ‘prototyping’ of new brand scenarios. In fact, we are getting closer with the client, we go together through all the stages and adapt where necessary.”

Teams of specialists deliver bespoke work

“Embracing change starts with yourself,” says Van Egmond. “Our agency has about 85 professionals and we strive to organise ourselves as lean as possible. We often work with specialised teams, the approach is always made-to-measure.

For Heineken, for example, we have composed a dedicated team that continuously works on projects for the brand in close cooperation with the design team of the client.

For the new identity of ING the traditional process was completely released; The project was addressed differently. The key question was formulated as follows: ‘What if you can take care of your banking only on a small device like a smartwatch?‘.

“This approach challenged our designers to continue thinking further than the aesthetic aspects of the design.

This resulted for ING, among other things, in designing a unique typeface* that works equally on a screen of some
square centimeters, as on a laptop or a eight to six meter billboard; even for people with a visual impairment. This is more than coming up with a new logo that is doing well on all screens: Thinking along with the brand in all aspects of the way the brand appears, whilst guarding its core values.

That process has no end, because we commit to long-term collaborations. In other words: design is not a final product but the start of a continuous process. “

Continuous development as a goal

“If your brand identity is clear, you cannot afford to lean backwards,“ emphasises Van Egmond. “At VBAT, we see that status as the starting point
of new initiatives that go beyond the aesthetic role of design, a strategic and guiding role for the organisation as a whole. Our vision ‘We Design Change’ underlines that. Also internally, because we want to make the connection with knowledge domains that are not directly related to our core business.
On the one hand to take our responsibility in the development of the industry and on the other hand in order to learn from it ourselves. In the end, we can mean more for brands right through constantly gaining inspiration, being open to new ways of thinking and connecting this to our experience.
Continuous development, that is where VBAT stands for. “

The approach of VBAT

The first step in collaborating with VBAT means extensive research of the actual positioning of the brand, also referring to the place that competitors take within the picture. Then we determine the desired brand position with the so-called Brand Navigator tool. Van Egmond explain what this tool does: “With the Brand Navigator we develop, together with a senior team of the client, a unique brand proposition and brand personality in a one-day workshop. It is an effective tool to determine the brand’s ambition. Once the visual identity has been developed, we translate it into the target groups. In this case, we use the BrandScape tool, which we have developed in-house. This functionality offers brands the possibility to clarify what is the right look and feel for specific audiences - making sure that synergy and consistency remain on a brand- and communication-wide level.
The strategic objectives defined in the first phase, come to life in a mix of visual expressions that ensure a strong brand identity. Of course it is for granted, that the visual aspects of the brand will be translated to all possible devices in the best possible way.

  • Note of the editor: The ING Me Typeface has been developed in cooperation with Fontsmith.

Reference: ING Case

All images courtesy of VBAT

This article was originally published in MarketingTribune (Dutch).

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edited by Connie Fluhme
PR at

Inside VBAT

Weekly blog posts by Creatives from VBAT, on different topics related to Retail, Branding, Packaging, Innovation and Design in and around Amsterdam.

VBAT Refreshing

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Multidisciplinary Branding and Design agency. Constantly Creative, Always Refreshing. Creating Iconic Brands.

Inside VBAT

Weekly blog posts by Creatives from VBAT, on different topics related to Retail, Branding, Packaging, Innovation and Design in and around Amsterdam.

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