Interbrand is one of the world’s largest brand consultancies. And Patrick Stal, well he’s 31, half German/half Dutch, and their youngest managing director. If you have branding loyalty, you’d love to talk to Patrick. And you might learn something, such as no matter how good a donkey looks, it will never be fast.
- Prof. W.H. Keesomlaan 4
- 1183 DJ Amstelveen
To say I was nervous to speak to Patrick would be a slight understatement, regardless of that and armed with a notebook of questions I made my way to the Interbrand offices in Amstelveen. Admittedly my first time in this part of town, it was surprisingly the most nature I’d seen in a long while. I even sheltered under a tree while there was a brief shower. A tree!
Interbrand share a building with their Omnicom relative, DDB. This is immediately evident in the waiting lobby, where lions, pencils and VW advertising (oh my!) line the walls. I was excited to have a peek inside their doors, let alone to have some of Patrick’s time. And boy was it inspiring. Since joining the Amsterdam office in 2009 (which was then predominantly internationals), Patrick has made a mark (sorry, last branding pun, I swear) with his passion and drive.
I’m going to start off and credit Patrick for having so much insight into Amsterdam and for sharing it with me. Amsterdam seems to house a branch of every big creative agency and was the place to set up shop for it’s liberal culture and talent pool. Now, rather than companies arriving for the talent, the talent comes here. How many design businesses are registered in Amsterdam alone? Oh, only about 3,000.
So when people say the Dutch know their design, they know their design. This was particularly interesting in the case of clients in the branding area. With such an appreciation for good design it can be difficult to keep the scales balanced with strategy and is not without it’s faults. Patrick summed it up best.
…You create a logo for a car company which is a great looking donkey. The client loves it. “Yes, let’s go with that, it looks fantastic!” Unfortunately, after putting your good-looking donkey on your fancy car, nobody’s buying. They don’t get the feeling of how fast the car is, because donkeys (no matter how well designed) will never be fast. You know what’s fast? A jaguar…
I mentioned to Patrick what I liked about Interbrand most is how absolutely freely they share their knowledge. On their website they have an entire section devoted to this. He told me that they always encourage sharing, and coincidentally, he had researched and found that Interbrand share five times more than other brand agencies.
I was reminded of that saying from school, “sharing is caring.” Nowadays, caring enough to share is becoming more and more evident.
Which Interbrand Amsterdam clearly is. Despite having forty-two siblings in the wings, this office has a start-up atmosphere. With a mix of Dutch and internationals, they’re not just strategists and designers. It’s a staff of entrepreneurs. The change they’re making is fueled by passion. In Patrick’s case, he knew he didn’t want to sit behind a pile of reports, he wants to see change happen. And going by what he has accomplished, he must be doing something right.
Leaving the office I realised I hadn’t opened my notebook, perhaps insider into Interbrand is they share the answers before you even have to ask the questions.