Fonk Magazine interviews Qindle’s new Leadership Team on our aim to redefine the landscape of agencies in 2024.
Qindle Innovation & Design was founded in 2017 by three top players from the Dutch design agency world: Taco Schmidt, Ype Jorna and Wolter Prinsen. The ambitions were firm. On the one hand, to take a different approach to the profession and on the other they had international ambitions from day one. Seven years later: the (international) portfolio is solid and Qindle’s Creative Consultancy approach stands out among the usual mores in the design world. This position provides the basis for a new phase of growth – time for new steps and new adventures. From January ’24, a new Leadership Team will take over the daily management of clients and the studio.
With the Qindle Leadership Team taking office, Taco Schmidt and Ype Jorna are taking more distance from the day-to-day management to prioritize and focus on defining and leading the future vision and long-term strategic growth for Qindle, including further developing the Qindle brand proposition, driving new business and further developing Q Ventures.
At the same time, co-founder Wolter Prinsen is closing the door of the agency world behind him and, as he retires, is also starting a new phase of his life.
‘But,’ emphasises Taco Schmidt, ‘as the new Qindle Leadership Team will take day-to-day charge of clients, projects and studio from now on, we are therefore not going to talk about Ype, Wolter and myself today.’
Referring to a statement from an earlier interview, Taco concludes just before handing over the conversation to the newcomers, laughing: ‘We want to become a design agency 5.0; skip 4.0 and 3.0.’
A new phase of growth
The newcomers are not entirely new as all three have been working for Qindle in various roles for some time. Jason Kempen, born in South Africa, is responsible for the overall creative output and design team as Executive Creative Director; British David Franklin, as Client Services Director, will lead and develop key client relationships, while Jasper van Eck, as Strategy Director, is responsible for content direction and the studio’s strategic consultancy capability.
The job titles do not seem to be demarcated too precisely, because as soon as the trio starts talking, they continuously take over from each other, complementing each other or sharing each other’s enthusiasm for the opportunities they see ahead for Qindle and its clients.
‘In the first 7 years of our business, we have seen several distinct phases of growth – from start-up, to scale-up and, in the last 2 years or so, the development of a more professionalized operation. Looking ahead, we are anticipating many more possibilities and opportunities.’
And as Qindle has grown, so too have its client relationships. Both in the depth and complexity of working relationships, as well as the breadth of new clients, particularly in the technology sector.
‘The main thing we hear from our clients is that our deep understanding of their business, category and technology is unmatched and invaluable within their agency ecosystem’ state Kempen, Franklin and van Eck. Yet the magic in leveraging this level of understanding comes through creativity and using the power of design to bring business strategy to life in tangible and meaningful ways.
The Creative Intelligence opportunity
In Qindle’s vision, which Kempen, Franklin and Van Eck drive, the core value that Qindle delivers to its clients is a shared mindset that they describe as ‘Creative Intelligence’.
‘It’s a delicate balance – a dance even – between creativity and logic. Rational and emotional thinking coming together to solve complex, people-centered challenges.’
To address challenges facing the industry, the team says an open, interdisciplinary approach is needed where all relevant disciplines come together and work together. In this, creativity is a tool and not an end. Strategy, design, and technology together form the basis for arriving at solutions that fit the problem that they seek to solve.
Trust and openness are fundamental to Qindle’s approach – as the new team points out, their focus will now be on bringing all relevant disciplines together and facilitating collaboration, accountability and ultimately the quality of output.
Underpinning this philosophy remains Qindle’s brand promise: Make it Real, which reflects a clear ambition to deliver tangible solutions that truly bring strategy to life.
What does the world look like for you guys from January ’24?
‘As a team, we have actively steered towards the position we are in for the past year or so. Each of us immediately bought in to the original vision for Qindle and have been fortunate to have been part of shaping Qindle’s growth. We’re excited to take a bigger role in this for the years to come.
The focus for the next 2-3 years will be ensuring conscious and strategic growth of the agency; we are increasingly working within more and more layers of our clients’ business, as well as working with some exciting new ones. With the diversity we see in clients, the business challenges they face and the ways we support them, it’s crucial that we deliver a consistent, uniquely Qindle experience, for all our clients. Kempen, Van Eck and Franklin are certainly not naïve, because the agency’s hectic pace will remain, they argue, as will their hands-on mentality. But in their joint role as Leadership Team, there is now conscious and active steering. ‘We continue to work hands-on and Qindle still remains a flat organization with a lot of autonomy, mutual respect and individual ambition. The change we are bringing as a team is more about focus than distancing ourselves from the process. Our task is to further professionalize the organization and give our teams even more focus in each of their roles, as well as their individual development. The change and that we bring is more about evolution than revolution. We aim for conscious growth.’
What about Qindle by the end of 2024?
‘We will work more proactively this year. By making better use of what we know about our customers, we can anticipate demand.
In addition, we want to give more focus to the specific Qindle culture (Make it Real, ed.). This means more active mentoring of our people, paying attention to the diversity within our teams, so that they work more effectively and better together. For example, by linking juniors to more senior people, everyone can learn from each other. What matters in the coming year is to grow Qindle responsibly.
Even better understanding & challenging is also important when it comes to customers. How can we realize your goal within and with the organization (e.g. make it real)? It is always about individuals in organizations, about people. We must never lose sight of that. Whether it concerns large corporates or small start-ups. Our customers, large or small, always experience the same Qindle mindset.’
Download the article for the Dutch version here.