How PARK Helped Us Uncover Our Truth
That’s where Andy Sharpe comes into play. A former designer — like the rest of his PARK colleagues — Andy now helps design teams maximize the human, environmental and financial impact of what they do. They’re not a marketing firm churning out slogans, they’re a consultancy helping design teams realize their full potential.
Andy helped us identify who we are now and where we want to go, from the inside out. Over the course of working with Andy and PARK, we did everything from redefining our brand to refining our internal systems and aligning our team during this transition. To give you a better idea of the work we did with PARK we decided to share a frank, insightful conversation between Andy and our Managing Director, Gert-Jan van Breugel. Read on to learn what really goes into a good rebrand.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
During a branding or rebrand, a lot of times companies look to a marketing team
for positioning. But, you went to a consultancy firm, why?
Gert-Jan: “PARK is known for guiding design leaders and providing direction in terms of where the design field is going. And we were looking for a sparring partner — someone who is up to speed and working with other, bigger companies — and has insight on where the industry is going and what clients are thinking. And like us, they’re a small, independent agency and I think that also aligns with us and who we are. There was great synergy.”
So Andy, where did you start?
Andy: “It sounds obvious, but we started working when Modyn was Vanderveer. Vanderveer was a design studio with a strong history and legacy in product design in many different industries and segments. We helped them take stock, and look in the mirror, to understand who they had become — which was a design studio that really excelled, and were their best when working in the field of mobility.
Our initial task was to help Gert-Jan and the leadership team reflect on what Vanderveer had become, in a positive sense. When we began there were lots of ideas, lots of perspectives, lots of draft documents. It was PARK’s job to help the team identify and elevate the stuff that mattered, and most importantly, uncover what the inarguable truths were and center them within the brand’s positioning. It had to come from a place of authenticity, not just become marketing noise.”
How was this process for you, Gert-Jan? It must have been interesting because you were trying to boil down your essence, but also evolve and move forward as a company.
Gert-Jan: “Sometime it felt like going to the dentist,” he laughed. “Like Andy drilling down on us, asking us what mattered and why. It can be confronting, especially at the start, when we were really struggling with our direction. But Andy and PARK helped us shift through these different aspects and what we should focus on and to help us with tough decisions. While it was a daunting process they provided us with a lot of energy, and actually peace of mind, that what we’re working on here is the future, and these are tough decisions, but all for the better.”
Can you tell us about some of those tough decisions?
Gert-Jan: “We had to let go of some people, which was a really tough decision. But PARK was there to guide us through it and reassure us. PARK was also a neutral party between us and our clients who provided them feedback so we could make our process better. That was really important and essential for us to evolve, and they made our clients feel really comfortable during that process, and in turn provided us with a renewed focus.”
This process was so much deeper than just a surface-level rebrand. How did PARK help set the tone for the business of MODYN?
Andy: “One of the things that I believe differentiates PARK is that we are all trained designers, and we take a design approach to solving business problems. So that involves an approach that puts real people at the center, in this case the Modyn team and their clients, as well as putting as much effort into the brief as the solution.
So early on we established the ‘design that moves’ mantra and progressed onto what PARK is typically known for, which is empowering design leaders through capability building. So what that means is, using ‘design that moves’ as our lens, we went on a journey to look at every dimension of the business and identify and prioritize the opportunities to improve the mechanics of the business — from strategy to staffing, processes, tools, people and culture.
One of those opportunities was to re-brand and to discover their new external voice. But changing the tone of business requires a certain mindset from the client too — there has to be trust in the relationship, and a sincere willingness to evolve, and that was present in abundance.”
And what about with the MODYN team?
Andy: “We saw that MODYN needed help creating structure around this evolution. Many of the ideas and solutions were already present in the company, the leadership team simply needed help in filtering which ideas to progress with, and how to prioritise them. But, we didn’t want to create structures that were so rigid that they created inertia, or frustration amongst the team.
It was important that PARK didn’t dictate, but that we simply put the opportunities on the table, and judged where the energy from the team was, and then ran with that. Because they’re such a small team we had to respect and prioritise what really motivated them.”
So, what was the biggest challenge you had to help MODYN navigate during this rebranding process? And what was the biggest opportunity for them?
Andy: “Let’s start with the opportunity – the passion for mobility was evident from day one, so in that sense, it made our job a lot easier. There was a focus right from the start, and we could see how to build the business and brand around that.
In terms of challenge, it was making sure that everyone in the studio was part of the journey, and felt some sense of ownership. It’s a small team, and although there was a shared passion, the interpretations did vary. Keeping a thread of collaboration going throughout, with both leadership and the team, was key in ensuring that everyone bought into the path forward.
Gert Jan — when you started working with PARK, what was your biggest goal? How do you feel now, seeing it all come together?
“I think our biggest goal was to just take our company to the next level. Vanderveer was well-known, but it was also a bit outdated. So we really wanted to make MODYN future-proof. At the beginning we could see clients had feedback, the team was a bit worried, we had some trouble with acquisition. And PARK helped us create this roadmap to make changes that would take us into the future successfully. Now we feel really confident about who we are, where we want to go and our goals — but also getting there.”
And how was this project for you, Andy? How do you feel about the outcome?
Andy: “At PARK we’re super proud of the relationship, the journey and the outcome. We stepped away from the process as the team went into execution mode, but we take great pride in the fact that our contribution is evident in the outcome.
Specific to the outcome, the thing I am most proud of is that there’s an authenticity and an integrity to the positioning and tone-of-voice with MODYN. And that’s something, in my opinion, that much larger organisations could really learn from. Find and halo the truth.”