Design and Marketing – aren’t these two different topics?
Mathias: In principle, yes, but there is overlap. Especially regarding brand presence and corporate identity. We are still a relatively young company and first need continue to develop our brand. When it comes to websites or product campaigns, the line between design and communication is blurry. It is obvious, however, that each has their own different expertise and that means specific areas of responsibility.
And those are?
Gerd: Generally speaking, I’m responsible for content in the corporate communication. In detail that means communication strategy, press relations, events, presentations, the website, product campaigns – all the touchpoints where the brand speaks.
René: Mathias and I are responsible for the visualization of this content, the communications design. But that is only one aspect. The other big part of our job are concepts and design of user experiences, that means the design of user-friendly interfaces, website apps and such things.
How does the collaboration in the design team work? Do you build on each other?
René: Yes, we do indeed. We have slightly different backgrounds but are on the same wavelengths with regard to our design philosophy. Mathias can look back at almost 20 years of UX Design experience in virtually all businesses and is a master of design details. I was co-owner of a design office for 13 years that specialized in corporate design and branding. The last two years I have been with Valtech Agency as the Creative Director and in charge of creative solutions, customer relations and as a team leader. But still, we do not have clearly delineated areas of competence. Here everybody is encouraged to pitch their ideas in all areas.
Is marketing in a joint venture with VW really necessary?
Gerd: We want to grow, and that applies to staff as well as our portfolio – and without a significant presence in the markets, this, however, is impossible. In addition to that, we are developing into a product company more and more. And products need to be seen. The approach is probably different. In contrast to some of our competitors, we are not condemned to constantly generating new customers. Not having to meet certain expectations, being able to do things without following supposedly all-important rules is a very nice feeling after some years in the agency business.
Mathias: We couldn’t agree more. The bigger the client, the smaller normally the creative latitude for the designer. With our own brand we are more free in our work – we don’thave to follow a brand book but create one. You get to work out the details and plan strategically for the future.
How much does VW weigh in?
Gerd: We hope to get input from VW, but basically Valtech Mobility is an autonomous company that speaks for itself. And so, we don’t really have a lot of restrictions.
Can you put into words what your design principles look like?
René: One thing is always true for corporate design: simplicity, recognition, flexibility. To create an impressive appearance with simple elements that do not slavishly follows the zeitgeist but still has to get along with it.
Mathias: As regards user experience, the user – as the name already hints at – takes center stage. Every digital product should be conceptualized and conceived through the eyes of the user. Unfortunately, we often find that many think UX is synonymous with “painting websites colorfully” after the technical part has been done. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Our work starts much earlier, is systematic and needs to go hand in hand with the technology.
You have changed from Valtech to Valtech Mobility. What’s your impression?
Gerd: Most of the new colleagues are also old colleagues. I was in charge of marketing at the agency and looked after my automotive colleagues, and so I know the field and the people. But we have noticed that we now need to deal with trends, technologies and the network of this business much more intensively. There is still a lot to learn.
René: To answer the real question: We like this very special, refreshingly unconventional identity. And we have the impression that we – and you can’t please everybody – have a common idea of how we want to present ourselves as a company.
How do the specifics of the collaboration look like?
René: In general, the agile approach, with its interdisciplinary teams, is extremely helpful. For example, we closely coordinate with the Digital Talents Guides who have their eyes and ears everywhere.
Mathias: Thanks to the many different topics we often have to deal with people who have to manage projects. Only over time you learn how many different areas colleagues must to maneuver in and how many off-the-wall crazy things are happening there. Without our colleagues’ input, it would be impossible to convey that visually or in communication.