Welcome to the Muxu.Muxu tribe
(where transparency and a passion for getting stuck in reign supreme).
Bordeaux inspires images of opulent wines, fruity cheese and world-renowned architectural heritage. The tech scene probably doesn’t jump to mind. Yet in sleepy, sun-dappled squares and winding, cobbled streets, there is a whiff of creativity and dynamism: Muxu.Muxu are the new kids on the block, and bring with them a breath of fresh air.
Muxu roughly translates as ‘kiss’ in Basque, and rhymes with positivity; a touch of the unexpected. Reluctant to brand themselves an agency, the team prefer ‘creative studio’. They provide digital and print solutions (websites, brand books) for small start-ups and established companies alike, and also build their own apps. They insist that theirs is different to an agency’s working model, because they are not primarily motivated by money. Instead the team choose projects because they share chemistry or values with the client. Above all, Muxu.Muxu are driven by a desire to create exciting things, produce quality output and build long-lasting relationships.
Behind these values, the 5 associates represent a mixed bag of skillsets and backgrounds, and are united by a passion for their work. Co-founder Luc developed his digital skills working freelance, then entered an agency in the early days of the iPhone, where he specialised in mobile design. Damien works both his print and digital skills, but is particularly talented in print work: he has a great vision. Audrey is a Full-Stack developer with a background in communications, bringing an interdisciplinary approach and global vision to her code. David is Muxu.Muxu’s advisory CTO. User experience is always uppermost in his mind, and he doesn’t shy away from complicated tasks. Pierre is product advisor and Oakland-based, bringing a valuable alternative perspective.
There is a tangible sense of family within the team. They aim to be inclusive of people from other networks and backgrounds, and make the fields of design and development more diverse. The team privilege candidness in their dealings with one another. Ensuring that all 5 associates had shared expectations from the venture was a priority:
‘Working closely with different clients has shown us the values we want to emphasize — and the working relationships we want to avoid. By being entirely open with one another, we know that we all share the same passion for what we do, and that is very strong glue holding the team together.’
Openness also underpins Muxu.Muxu’s relationships with clients, and they have a diverse range of stimulating projects on the go. Trace is a TV channel seeking to launch a radio station, for which the team have developed iOS and Android apps. Wanted, a Facebook group with 300,000 members needs a logo behind which their members can unite. Quorum, a technology for making volunteering more accessible, seeks to mobilise as many people as possible. In common is their need for greater visibility, which is where Muxu.Muxu comes in.
Clients often approach Muxu.Muxu with an existing brand identity, but one that has been drawn up quickly. Muxu.Muxu aim to evolve the client’s existing identity towards better-integrated design that is of a higher quality and easier to share.
‘Often the clients themselves have a good idea, but it has been poorly executed because of budget or time constraints. We’ll choose to improve on just one of their logos.’
The team interrogate exactly what the client wants and why. Why do they want a logo? What representation do they envisage for their project? The first step is to meet with the client at their place of business. Recently the team visited the premises of Sodif, a flower wholesale business acquired a year ago. Business has been turning over smoothly, but the website and brand image just didn’t match up to the quality of their service.
Because, if a brand book is going to truly represent a company’s universe, seeing what goes on behind the scenes is key to success. Muxu.Muxu put together a brand book including a section dedicated the values of the client’s project. ‘Often in the end’, says co-founder Luc, ‘clients end up being most satisfied with this element. They have the wording in place to talk about their project. A new employee can join the project tomorrow and quickly absorb the company’s values.’
Muxu.Muxu also place great importance on communicating about all elements of the project, including potential problem areas, right from the offset. This transparency means the client knows that the final output will be truly representative of their expectations. Importantly, all code and design remains the property of the client — that may seem logical, but it is something that sets Muxu.Muxu apart from the agency model.
An environment that favours openness with the client is vital, but sometimes the glove just doesn’t fit. If that magic spark isn’t there for a given project, and Muxu.Muxu feel that pursuing collaboration might not be valuable for the client or the team, they will say so.
‘It’s best to be honest from the get-go. Otherwise, any problems will just rear their heads later, which is not a productive use of anyone’s time.’
The Muxu.Muxu week starts with a stand-up meeting, to inform about projects in progress and outstanding objectives. All calendars are shared, so everyone knows what others are working on. Team members keep a call running on Slack so if someone needs help or advice — say, Audrey needs to know the size of the graphic assets Luc is preparing for integration — there is no need to interrupt the workflow to type a message via chat.
The team’s ‘Muxu.Muxu Retreats’ are clearly key in strengthening working relationships. Every few months, the team and a few external participants get together for a weekend, at the beach or in the countryside. The change of scene and new faces encourage discussion of Muxu.Muxu projects, but also the nature of their work more broadly. During one of these retreats the team created Papier, a simplified note-taking extension for Chrome that was picked up and featured by Product Hunt, The Next Web and Lifehacker.
‘This opportunity to come up with new ideas, and discuss what we imagine for the future, whilst sharing good food and great scenery, is also an opportunity to consolidate the part of our working relationship that is based on friendship.’
They came up with ideas for their current internal projects — two text-messaging apps — in just this way. The first allows you to schedule messages in advance, to yourself or to others — remember to pick up some milk this evening; remember to pay your taxes on Friday. The second is for simplified text-messaging campaigns, à la MailChimp, useful for companies and business, but also for NGOs and political movements on a local scale. Sure, it’s less glamorous than disrupting the banking industry with crowdfunding for example, but for Muxu.Muxu there is still much to be done to fully exploit the understated power of text messaging — and to have fun in doing so!
So what else does 2017 have in store for Muxu.Muxu? More stimulating projects, new clients, and more retreats no doubt, plus the recruitment of new talent and a greater emphasis on pro bono work where they can. They’ll have their work cut out, for sure. Luckily though, they don’t seem ones to shy away from a challenge.
Check them out here: http://muxumuxu.com