Foreign companies seeking out a base in Brabant often make VanBerlo Design Strategy in Eindhoven one of their first stops. While they sometimes just want to see where they will be coming at a later stage for their product design or the strategy required to turn that product into an international brand, they mostly come because VanBerlo is a famed exponent of the Brabant melange of creativity, innovation and international orientation. On the subject of brand experience...
The VanBerlo Group has been a marked success for over 25 years in the world of product development and design, and the company is behind the commercial breakthrough of many well-known brands in a wide variety of industries. The Eindhoven company is the biggest in its field in the Netherlands and employs almost 80 people. Yet it is primarily the confidence that major international brands have in VanBerlo that has made the company a global leader. Clients include Huawei, Sara Lee, Maxi-Cosi, KLM and Philips.
‘Creative engineers’ is what they like to call themselves at VanBerlo. “The title indicates that creativity, innovation and strategy go hand-in-hand here,” says new business manager Bas Berkhout. “At VanBerlo we not only gain inspiration from our staff, but also from contact with our clients. We can hold up a mirror to them as trend-watchers, providing refreshing angles of approach, although our primary goal is still to walk in their shoes. Delving into our clients, and their customers, is second nature to us - ultimately, it is about the business that they must generate through their products."
Berkhout emphasises that a product's design is never an isolated issue. "A company naturally wants to stamp its signature on its products, but what is likewise of great importance is what we call ‘the technological IP’. After all, a product should not only be a want-to-have, but must also be able to distinguish itself on functional and technological grounds. It is these facets that go a long way to determining the financial feasibility and consequently the success rate of the company. There is a reason why we employ designers as well as engineers at VanBerlo. The fact that, aside from our creativity, we can also deploy our knowledge of rapid technological changes is one of our strongest assets.”
On top of this there are the brand strategies, unveiled when VanBerlo introduces a product on the market on behalf of a client. “At that point we ensure the product’s creativity is translated into communicational creativity,” the business manager says.
Most of VanBerlo’s clients are located in Europe, but there are a growing number from further afield. “This is not an automatic jump in the world of product design and brand management,” Berkhout says. “In a world full of different national characteristics and cultures, products cannot simply be introduced universally. That is why we entered into a partnership with the FromD design studio in Beijing, thus allowing ourselves to provide the best service possible to our clients in China. Conversely, we are now also perfectly situated when it comes to introducing products from our European clients to the Chinese market. In this way VanBerlo serves as the international link between the brand and market.”
Berkhout is not ruling out further international alliances. “But we remain firmly rooted in Eindhoven, in Brabant. This is an innovative environment for high tech and medical systems, while it is also chock-full with international commerce. This is, in brief, the perfect climate for our company to prosper. Then there is the excellent road network and international airports just around the corner, as it were. VanBerlo and Brabant are a perfect fit, two brands that strengthen each other.”