In conversation with Mathias Illgen

Holistic approach makes brands strong.

Mathias Illgen and Julia Freymark
January 24, 2022

Managing Director and agency partner Mathias Illgen speaks about how brands are interchangeable and how holistic branding is the right countermeasure for us.

Brands have found themselves in a dilemma. Why is this the case?

The demands on companies and brand strategy have become very high – not least due to digitisation. Products and brands are becoming increasingly interchangeable. Consumers are more informed and companies are becoming more transparent. On top of that, the pace of product innovation is picking up. The pure product benefit is in decline. To free brands from this dilemma, they need to think differently from the start – holistically and with the right mindset.

In the Meaningful Brands report by Havas, brands performed quite poorly. Why is this?

Because people don’t trust brands anymore. A strong brand has to be genuine, focused and convincing. Very few people manage this. Over 73 per cent of those surveyed do not believe the promises that brands make. Almost half of the brands were viewed as untrustworthy.

Brands need more strength and reliability again. How do you achieve this in your work?

With a holistic understanding of the brand. That is the foundation. We look at brands from several perspectives and always take into account the three decisive factors of brand success: the product, the attitude and the communication. Through this holistic approach, a brand comes to life because we don’t just reduce it to a form or claim without it being able to pull its own weight. Our approach goes beyond the superficial, also touching on the brand’s or company’s offer and personality.

In holistic branding, the visual identity is in line with the brand’s personality.

Exactly, because only then can a brand be credible and bring about long-term recognition. Not just for consumers, but also for employees. Before we communicate an attitude, it has to be lived in the company. It’s becoming increasingly more important that brands don’t just meet personal and functional expectations, but social ones as well. That’s why purpose, mission statement and corporate culture have become so extremely important.

How do you make the brand personality or attitude visible?

With our secret weapon – with design! That’s how we fight for uniqueness and against arbitrariness. This is especially successful when the design is radical and bold. But design is much more than just a beautiful form. For us, design is also a method and a way of thinking. Design combines structure and logic with empathy and intuition, gets to the heart of ideas quickly and is always clear. That’s why we see design as a perfect tool for solving not only communicative but also strategic and entrepreneurial problems. This means that we constantly have to redefine what design can achieve, making it indispensable for the development of meaningful, substantial and successful brands.

Our brand triad in a nutshell. Three questions for Mathias Illgen in this video:

Contact person

Mathias Illgen
Brand consulting, Managing director


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