What brands can learn from the view on Leiden

Every action must be part of a bigger plan

André Soff
Inside VBAT
2 min readAug 18, 2015


Long view collage of a messy part of the Netherlands. Source: Adriaan Geuze

The world-famous Dutch urban planning and landscape architect Adriaan Geuze was guest of last weeks legendary VPRO program Zomergasten (Dutch TV program called Summerguests, red.). He recently walked along the A4 highway near Leiderdorp and took a photograph every 20 meters. The result is a long view collage of a messy part of the Netherlands: industrial area, gas-stations, furniture stores, billboards. Geuze is very negative about the ugliness of the streetscape around Leiden.

Geuze: “I don’t get it[…] This is the manifestation of Het Groene Hart (the green hart in the middel of the Dutch cities; red.), where the Dutch cultural landscape and city kiss each other. That is our Dutch tradition. An then this absurd manifestation. […] Hornbach, Ikea bomb our landscape with a world of ugliness. This is the front of the city Leiden, this has to be taken seriously! […] I’m really panicking about this.”

The Green Hart. Image Source: hetgroenehart.nl

Geuze is connecting his horror about this ‘provocation of the Dutch landscape’ with his former statements about new procedures. The procedures are well followed in the Netherlands, but the result is totally undesirable, caused by a lack of planning. A shame since a lot of Dutch people experience the Dutch landscape the majority of their time from the car.

This is a link to the fragment in which Geuze is slashing the development next to the highway (discussion in Dutch):

I recognise the panic of Geuze. In our world of strata, brands, design, marketing and communication lots of time the procedures are followed by the book but is the end result messy and undesirable due to a lack of bold ambition, sharp strategy, coordination and clear goals.

Similar to landscapes, brands are built step by step in time through small individual actions because of a slow learning process of consumers. Every action must be part of a bigger plan.

Otherwise your brand will end next to the A4 in Leiderdorp, ready for demolition.

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Written by Andre Soff
Brand Director at VBAT