Talking to Nico

Nico is a full-blooded designer. As a child he wanted to be a car designer, today he among other projects designs brands for cars. He started as a digital designer at MetaDesign in Berlin and worked for Audi, the German government and Siemens. After a brief stopover at LostBoys in Amsterdam he joined Strichpunkt in 2005. Nico built up the branding expertise at Strichpunkt with great foresight.

With the rebranding of Vorwerk (in 2010) and EnBW it was clear by then that Strichpunkt was working as a branding partner on a par with international corporations. In 2016 Strichpunkt caused quite a buzz with the Audi mandate. The modular design approach developed by Nico and his team was a revolution that broke many classic rules in corporate design to make brands perform better, especially in the digital space. Since 2019 Nico has been teaching master students in design strategy at HTWG Konstanz. We had the chance to talk to Nico in "Talking to...".

SP: Nico, you've been with Strichpunkt for over 15 years. What excites you about your work?
Fifteen years at the same agency - I couldn't have imagined that before. But the reason is simple: it just always remains super interesting and exciting. Just as the agency has always evolved, I've also always been able to contribute and learn new, exciting things - including from the many, talented people that Strichpunkt always attracts.
SP: What drives you personally?
It's incredibly exciting to be able to look into different companies, sometimes at crucial and decisive levels. You can actually always draw cross-connections to other companies and industries and, with the combination of strategy and creativity, help the companies on the one hand, but also discover new things for yourself. Sometimes it's like the "Die Sendung mit der Maus" - only in real life. :-)
SP: What does outstanding design mean to you?
Of course design should be aesthetic - after all, beautiful design works better because you inspire people with it, they like to use it and let it get closer to them. That's very important to me as a designer. But even more exciting to me is design that really solves a problem, makes a product or an entire company better or more understandable, and ultimately helps people. Design is much more than just aesthetics. Unfortunately, this is often overlooked, especially in Germany.
SP: What do you think a brand needs in order to be successful in the future?
There are certainly many things, but I think flexibility is incredibly important. Standing still is a step backwards. Brands have to be open to change, adapt to new requirements and topics. Always beta, so to speak. This also applies to brand design. Rigid, static corporate designs that are set in stone are usually already outdated by the time they appear. Today, a design system must be flexible and modular in order to be ready for the future. But the most important thing is that a brand touches and inspires people.
SP: Which brand currently inspires you the most?
This might sound a bit cheesy, but I'm usually pretty excited about the brands I'm currently working for. When you get really deep into a company, get to know the people there, the stories that shape the brand, the products, history and vision for the future - it's often just incredibly inspiring.
SP: What does good leadership mean to you personally?
I don't believe that the boss always has the best ideas. For me it's important that the different characters with their individual know-how can develop as well as possible. When a team plays well together and develops a high level of self-confidence in its own abilities, it usually creates the best results. That's when it's really fun. I try to provide the framework for this and do my part. In the current times, a high level of trust in the team is even more important than before - and from my point of view, it absolutely pays off.
SP: What does courage mean to you personally?
To constantly reinvent yourself and to keep doing things you've never done before. Not that I always succeed, but I always try ;-)

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