Roman Stikkelorum, Co-founder of Verve: 'Being crowned European Agency of the Year feels like a fueled rocket engine that fired.'

Living Brands ○ 0 min read

Verve is working for clients in twelve different countries, making an impact with meaningful design. Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal is to become the number one agency of the world. What is the recipe to achieve that success? Let's ask Roman.

This year, Verve won the title of European Agency of The Year. We spoke with Roman Stikkelorum, co-founder of Verve, about having a clear vision on branding to stay on top of your game in a world that’s constantly changing.

The world of branding has changed a lot in those fifteen years that Verve has excisted. From designing t-shirts to book covers to a full blown digital branding agency. How does Verve stay on top of her game?

Simply by following what’s going on in the world and knowing what’s relevant at the moment. Absorb what’s happening in the world and be open minded about it. You are what you eat, what you consume and see. It’s what you take with and where you get your inspiration from. 

One of our core values is: we sense. It means we have to be empathetic and know what’s going on around you, what trends and developments there are. At Verve, it’s in our DNA. 

You are what you eat, what you consume and see. It’s what you take with and where you get your inspiration from. 

Companies of today all work in separate product teams working with design systems and branding teams working with brand books. Verve is all about marrying those two into one. Can you explain why a holistic approach on branding is important?

I find it interesting to look at design systems like they are living brands. They’re very pragmatic, as you can keep your digital assets up to date easily. It’s all about consistency, you make one adjustment and it’s applied everywhere. If you take such a system and apply it to branding in general, you get a constantly moving system that’s consistent on all touchpoints. 

With today’s digital technology and brands, thinking holistically is more relevant than ever. A brand has so many different touchpoints and wants to be recognizable, yet has to survive in a world that’s constantly changing. You need to build something consistent on all assets: how you pick up the phone, your UX copy, the micro interactions in how your brand moves. 

In a broader context, branding is becoming increasingly important. More and more people, like CMO’s realize that a brand is real. It’s like the core (stone) of a business, while marketing is clay around it that you can constantly mold. The need for such a pure brand has been increasing. If everyone sees the importance of branding at once, it means that you have to be very distinctive in your brand, because everyone is screaming for attention. That’s why Verve creates brands that are living, walk the talk, all day every day.

With today’s digital technology and brands, thinking holistically is more relevant than ever before.

Thinking big, what is the role of an agency like Verve in today's society? What impact do you make?

We do have an important role in which brands we’re going to help grow, because with great power comes great responsibility. Technically, we can give those brands superpowers. That’s why we make very conscious choices, like what brands we want to work with, what brands match the world we believe in. 

Additionally, as an agency, you have the responsibility to make the world a bit more beautiful. People are bombarded with (commercial) posts and advertisements. It’s in our hands to bring some beauty to the world. It’s why I believe it’s important that the work we make should also have aesthetic value to it - there are enough ugly things in the world already.

What do you think the brand of the future looks like and what brand is closest to achieving this?

Sounds cliché, but Airbnb and Spotify know how everything digital works and do marketing in a modern way. In fact, they do very little marketing, because it’s driven a lot from the content itself. That’s because they have a very strong brand and don’t solely focus on campaigns. For them, it’s all about having a very consistent system that they implemented holistically.

This is the second time Verve receives the title of European Agency of The Year. Does it mean anything different now than it did back in 2018?

For sure, we’re a different company than we were back in 2018. We went through an evolution rather than a revolution when rebranding to Verve a year ago. Now, receiving this title for the second time, it’s yet a token of recognition. Together with our clients, we’re on the right track. It feels like a fuelled rocket engine that fired. Gears that click together. A lift off to really lift us off. 

Being crowned European Agency of the Year feels like a fuelled rocket engine that fired.

Without creative, ambitious brains, no agency. How does this milestone open doors to the growth of the Verve team?

Of course, I sincerely hope that people will want to be a part of this mission. Become part of the European Agency of the Year. We’re currently looking for Brand Designers and of course, you always hope the right people get attracted to what we’re doing. However, it’s not about the title, it’s all about the will to create the highest possible quality of work together.

Verve has been given its new name, partly because of internationalization. Since the beginning of this year, Verve has had an Amsterdam office - where to next?

The Amsterdam office is growing faster than we expected, but we’re not planning on opening another office in the Netherlands anytime soon. Our bold goal of becoming the best branding agency in the world would make it very logical to go abroad. How we’re going to get to that goal, that A-B-Z framework, is still unknown. We know Z, are now at A and we know B, the next step - but we don't know all those steps in between.

However, I do believe you’re no longer forced to have an office in all timezones. Since Covid, the paradigm surrounding work has of course completely changed. We remain flexible. We can work well together from all different places in the world with the tools that are available now.

Verve is growing. What quality should Verve not lose in the coming years?

Definitely the quality of the work. We want to make the best possible work that’s out there. If you had to sum up Verve in one word, I think it would be optimism. We’re optimistic and see the world that way as well. We see opportunities, potential and want to realize it. That optimism is very important and it shines through in all the projects we do. A kind of joie de vivre that emerges in every project. It's just very much in the DNA of who we are. It's even in our name; we do things with Verve.

Curious to see how that optimism shines through Juni, Tuum and Miro?

Check out the cases here