Design is rising in the corporate world. Everywhere, but especially in the United States, design thinking is an important theme. Reason why ADCN (Advertising Design Creativity the Netherlands) has given design a more important part in its goals. A promotional video shown at the beginning of the breakout WDCD for Brands & Business hosted by ADCN called it ‘The Age of &’.
By Philip de Josselin de Jong

ADCN’s managing director Dinesh Sonak and co-chairman David Snellenberg (Dawn) talked in this session with marketing and design managers of Heineken, Philips, HEMA, and WeTransfer about the role of design for building brands.

When she started at retail chain HEMA Tanja Soeter encountered two separated worlds within the company: product design on one hand and brand design on the other. After the development of a new product, including design and positioning, she told, Brand design would redo part of the work for the communication with the outside world. Soeter worked to integrate both disciplines, departing from the design philosophy ‘Super normal’. Thus the ‘super normal’ statement developed from (product) design philosophy to corporate strategy.


Heineken has always been working on brand building, Mark van Iterson told. Nevertheless, Heineken too witnessed a shift from packaging oriented design to general brand design. And although there are still separate design and communication managers, the two work more and more together to mix design and advertising.

WeTransfer’s product consists for 50% of technique and 50% design, Thijs Remie said. In other words: the brand doesn’t exist without design. For clients ‘simple to use’ is the core of WeTransfer. And that is also the starting point for all design for the brand.

From stuff to value

Thomas Marzano also sees a designlike strategy at Philips. This is illustrated by the shift from ‘stuff’ to ‘value’ – inevitable if you reckon that many products under the Philips brand are produced elsewhere. An example of the effectiveness of design is the fact that much less MRI scans of children need to be done again since the surroundings have been made much friendlier through the application of colour, sound and video imagery.

To conclude the session, Brazilian nestor of advertising Marcello Serpa gave a short reaction.

Philip de Josselin de Jong is a self-employed graphic designer based in Haarlem
Top image: on stage from left to right Mark van Iterson (Heineken), Tanja Soeter (HEMA), Dinesh Sonak (ADCN), Thijs Remie (WeTransfer), Thomas Marzano (Philips), David Snellenberg (ADCN / Dawn) / photos by Leo Veger