This was my final project for the Co-Design minor. I did this project together with two other students and support from our coaches Thijs & Hugo from studio Moorgen. We were asked to design an 'alternative brand manual' for the brand Duurzaam Doen. This was one of the most challenging projects I ever did and required a totally different approach to designing a product then I was used to. In the end I am really pleased with our result, a truly unique concept.
Duurzaam Doen is a brand formed for a group of SMEs from the region of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug who wish to develop valuable together. They share a love for the green environment of the Heuvelrug and work together on sustainable and innovative projects. The organisation of the brand has been handled by the Hogeschool Utrecht and will now be transferred to a new organisation. The question we got is basically; how can we keep the brand and brand values alive? A simple brand manual would not suffice, so we were asked to design an alternative. Who are we? well,
To get a feeling for this project we first had to find out what it was all about. To do this we gathered a lot of research that was previously done and started to dig in.
We learned a lot about branding and the brand Duurzaam Doen. We used this knowledge to form an image of the ideal growth of the brand, and how different this was from what really happened. We were able to translate all of the knowledge we gained into an mind map to help us process it.
It all starts with a seed, this seed symbolizes a belief, an idea. The belief will grow and become tangible, a small plant emerges from the dirt. The plant grows larger and forms a trunk, this will be the beliefs that hold everything together. Branches start growing, the SMEs who are part of the brand, they all have the passion of the beliefs running trough their veins. The tree will eventually start to bear fruits, the result of a healthy tree.
The question we asked ourselves was; Is it really one tree, or are there just branches glued to a pole. or is it a..? This was something that we needed to look into with our user research, how are the SMEs connected, and how would they like to be connected?
We started our user research by attending a session the SMEs had at Beukenrode, a beautiful estate on the outskirts of Doorn. It was the perfect location to get a good taste of the Heuvelrug area, well, I live in Doorn so not that new for me. The session was led by Remko van der Lugt and was about how the brand would be in the future. It was good for us to finally get some real contact with the SMEs and see how they behaved. The enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs really showed, but we also discovered that there are no real plans to get to the future they imagined.
The next big step in our process was conducting interviews, we interviewed a number of people who were involved with the brand, the actual SMEs, the quartermaster who is going to set up a new organisation and the designer of the current logo and corporate identity. We talked mainly about the passion/values of the brand, the relations within the brand, and communication within the brand. We learned a lot of interesting things about the dynamics of the group. We transcribed our interviews and started to cluster our data into themes of related data...
From our research we discovered a number of insights on topics from communication, to brand values, group dynamics, communication and organisation. Two interesting insights we used later on were: The entrepreneurs do not feel as one yet and The SMEs want to share their passion
Of course we also used our other insights in our design process, we also discussed our findings with our client, and decided where to put the focus on for our project. This meant that many of the insights gained on communication and organisation were only translated into recommendations for the new organisation, and we could focus on the brand experience.
Using our new knowledge we sharpened our initial project goal, and came up with a more concrete description of what we wanted to achieve.
Duurzaam Doen will give a product, which is going to activate the entrepreneurs to keep working together on their passion.
Duurzaam Doen is going to do this by inspiring the entrepreneurs, connecting them and to draw attention from outsiders for the passion they all have.
We as a product designers team went crazy on doing out of the box brainstorms, however, we were getting stuck at some point. We had only come up with products like keychains, toys or even relation gifts and a number of more practical things like a product that shows everyone who is in the brand. What all of our ideas were missing was depth; we were missing the deeper layers of our concept. After discussing our problem with Studio Moorgen we took a step back and rethought what the brand really needed. As suggested by our coaches we started to look at a deeper layer first, what do we want to achieve exactly, and build up from there.
With our new approach we came up with three concepts, an iconic product, mascot and more practical 'keyring' full of cards with participants' passions and information. In the end our concept became a bit of a mix of different elements, and after a good week of working on our concept we had come up with an entire product. A good concept that did everything we wanted it to do and some really strong elements in it. The catch? well, we had no idea what tangible shape it would take!
After a weekend of ideation on the shape of our concept we finally chose the definite shape on the Monday of our last project week! Sounds crazy for sure, but the concept was the most important part of our product, and that was already completely developed and was very strong.
We chose this shape because of its playfulness, the way it draws attention and interacts with the viewer. It allows you to discover new things and explore its every side. We needed something more then just a simple leaf to represent durability, so we chose this solid shape that represents a strong diamond that lasts for years.
Now I still haven't told you anything about our final concept so lets finally get to it! The following storyboard will explain most of it, but really it only touches upon the surface of what our concept can do.
This is Peter, he is already attending Duurzaam Doen. He received a document from the organisation were he needs to fill in his interpretation of his passion within that of the brand.
After some days he is one of the first SMEs who gets his own pile of passion pieces to start his passion wall by sharing pieces with fellow SMEs.
He sees his object growing each time he participates on events and sessions. At one day he has a business meeting with a client, When the client entered through the door his eye caught an interesting art piece on the wall. He is getting curious...
Peter gets enthusiastic and is really keen on telling his stories about the brand and his projects. He explaines that every piece is a fellow company within the brand. The client gets excited about the brand, he has also some ideas about sustainable development and would like to join the brand as soon as possible to share his ideas and start a project together with other SMEs!
Peter would like to invite his client, therefore he shares his passion. Here, you can visit our website and there you need to sign-up and tell your motivation why you want to join.
When the client arrives at his home he uses the passion piece and starts to learn more about the brand. He fills in the format with questions and uploads a photo for on his passion piece.
Then some days later, the organisation accepted his application and he receives his very own Passion Pieces. He also recieves his first project sized block, which contains all of the values of duurzaam doen. He is really happy when he sees them with his own passion words on it and his own company logo. He would like to share them and get to know more SMEs within the brand.
On the website he see the agenda full with events and sessions. This is the place to show yourself as an involved entrepreneur and share your passion with each other, get to know more about each other and create a bigger network to work with in the future.
He arrives at the event. There he meets up with a lot of different Duurzaam Doeners, building constructors, mobility improvers and many more. He has a conversation with a lot of people and they share their passion with each other, it’s really interesting to learn the story behind the passion and to really know someone.
For attending this event everybody receives a project(a bigger Passion Piece), this displays a project that is just finished. He goes home with a lot of new workrealtions and passions, his Duurzaam Doen Network has grown. He can start to fill his entrance with the passion of Duurzaam Doen, finally he can show that he is involved and participating in Duurzaam Doen.
Everytime he walks by the entrance he is reminded of Duurzaam Doen, over the next few months he sees his brand growing. He is very proud of what they have achieved, and wants more projects for his passion wall. He thinks to himself, what could i do, who could i talk to for new opportunities...?
Then one day... He has aan meeting with a client to talk about some business plan, when the client enters the building his eye caught this great interesting art on the wall... He recognises one of the projects on the wall and asks, “Did you do that?”
In short, our concept will: Provide recognition Duurzaam Doen, activate SMEs to approach the other participants, provide (a visual and tangible)connection with each other, makes everyone's passion known, makes the group passion known, will increase the involvement of the entrepreneurs (sharing their passion), show the growth of the brand, generates interest from outsiders and it will remind the entrepreneurs of the brand.
Hmm, that was not so short after all!
We want to thank the client Sven Willemsen, our coaches from Studio Moorgen Thijs and Hugo for supporting us through the project, Jens Gijbels and the involved experts for providing additional feedback.