Talking to Matthias Juhnke

Matthias Juhnke was born in Wolfsburg, grew up in Toronto/Canada, studied communication science and political science at the University of Münster and now lives in Berlin. As an intercultural and interdisciplinary strategist, he has taken on various strategic roles in agencies, start-ups and as a freelancer over the past 15 years - in communication, advertising, event development, brand strategy, brand experience and open innovation consulting. He joined Strichpunkt as Strategy Director at the end of 2019 and was recently promoted to Head of Strategy. He brings experience from various industries, including automotive, technology, media, entertainment to healthcare & cosmetics, and is currently building an overarching team in Stuttgart and Berlin.

Matthias is cool-headed, calm and absolutely energetic at the same time - a wonderful combination and always a great conversational partner. One of many reasons to get to know him better in our Talking to... series!

SP: To start with: name an object that best describes you...
Often strategy is about reducing complexity and achieving clarity - working out the essential things, peeling them until you get to the bottom of things.
So as strategists we’re kind of like peelers. At the beginning, we look at the basic ingredients of the brand, check them for bumps and inconsistencies, turn them upside down. And sometimes we peel away parts that aren’t quite as tasty.
SP: As a strategist in a branding agency: where does your work begin, where does it end?
With good conversations and questions. Ideally with everyone who makes decisions, wants to see results and celebrate success. It is important to have a clear overview of all goals, perspectives, motivations, tension and contradictions ahead of time – not as you go. Once a project is completed, more questions follow: What worked well? What went wrong and why? What did we learn? Where can we improve? What do we want to do next? A continuous cycle of Q&A&A: Questions, Answers, Actions.
SP: In your opinion, what are aspects that are often not sufficiently anchored in communication or corporate strategies?
There is rarely a lack of content or ideas, but rather a lack of focus, structure and clarity. Often, there is an urge to document and communicate everything down to the last detail in lots of presentations and guidelines. Of course there is a lot of information and interests that need to be carefully considered - but ultimately a heavy load of complicated messages, concepts, ideas and goals is going to slow and wear people down. A communication or corporate strategy needs to be like a Quick Start Guide.
SP: In 3 words: what makes a good brand strategy?
A good brand strategy is substantiated (fact-based), clear (language) and touching (emotionally).
SP: What is currently the most exciting brand from a strategic point of view and why?
I wouldn't single out any one brand. Any brand that recognizes that it hasn’t reached its full potential and is ready to start a serious process of renewal and growth - and then have the perseverance to really see it through - can be exciting and appealing.
SP: What excites you about your work at Strichpunkt?
At Strichpunkt there are lots of great creative people who fit together well both on a professional and personal level. We work on lots of interesting projects together in an open and respectful way.
SP: What would you never write in your CV, although it describes you very well?
I can be quite self-critical.
SP: What does courage mean to you personally?
Having clear convictions, defending them wholeheartedly, but also challenging and revising them with a sense of humility.

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