Meet think moto, a Design Agency with a Digital Focus
Berlin, May 23th, 2016
Berlin has garnered an international reputation for housing some of the most creative minds in the world and the agency think moto is no exception to that stereotype. Launched in 2010 by Katja Wenger, Creative Partner, and Marco Spies, Managing Partner, think moto is an agency that designs digital identities and experiences to help businesses transform themselves for the post-digital age. The team develops a consistent design and UX for brands but also creates completely new digital services. Both become more and more important with the ongoing digital transformation of brands.
A team of 20 strategists, UX and visual designers, project managers, and creative coders, many of the team members have a multi-disciplinary expertise. This gives the agency a high degree of flexibility, which creates a continuous flow of new ideas and approaches. Team members are encouraged to use their broad range of competencies to create even more innovative solutions for clients.
To learn more about the formation of think moto and the types of the projects the agency works on, we invited Katja to chat with us about her experience working in the industry. Throughout the interview there is one word that is consistent in all her answers; passion. It’s clear that Katja truly loves the work she does and always seeks to improve and grow in it.
Does think moto primarily work with clients in Germany, Europe, or all over the world?
Most of our clients are from Germany. We work for established companies and leading brands as well as for start-ups (e.g. flyiin or relayr). However, we are also hired by companies and brands based outside of Germany and Europe – especially start-ups. Up till now for instance we have worked for clients in New York City and Moscow.
Apart from this we like working for premium brands with high design standards, as we ourselves are aesthetes and always aim at creating sustainable, high quality design.
What is your story with working at think moto?
I co-founded think moto in 2010 together with Marco Spies who is the Managing Partner of think moto. We both met first at an interesting project a few years before in a private flat in Berlin Kreuzberg, where a few guys were working on a campaign (yes we DID campaigns back then) for a leading automotive company. It was my first freelance project and Marco was the UX Lead. We realised very quickly we could work together very well and our competencies matched perfectly. Afterwards we did more projects together as freelancers and also at Peter Schmidt Group (BBDO) where Marco shortly after became the Executive Director of Interactive Design.
We also realised that there was something not right in the agency world: design agencies did not think enough of the digital interactions. Likewise, interactive agencies did not build their interactions on the basis of the brands. We set out to fix that when we founded think moto two years later. Our strategic process enables us to combine these fields: Taking a deep dive into the three key aspects brand, user and business is essential to our work. Thus we create digital interactions that are unique to a brand.
How did you become interested in digital media and marketing? At a young age or at the university level?
It all started in the late 90s when I was an intern at a 3D and interaction design agency. They had a focus on 3D animation and exhibition design, but during my time there we started to build web sites. I immediately got intrigued with digital media. Consequently my first job after my studies was as a visual designer creating websites. I was thrilled of thinking in interactions. And to think of new ways to navigate virtual spaces. Some of the things we did back then did go far beyond what we are used to today.
In your opinion, what ingredients are key to create a successful digital campaign?
Actually, we don’t do campaigns. We create digital interfaces, brand identities and we build digital products and services. For these three things are essential: 1) A solid strategic foundation. We first need to understand users, the brand and the business. 2) An interdisciplinary team of UX designers, visual designers and creative developers who work closely together in an iterative process. This is especially important now that so many things are technically feasible. 3) A sensitive technical realisation. We need coders who have a delicate feeling for transition, animation, and processes.
Describe think moto in three adjectives:
Everything we do should be smart, simple, and sustainable.
Describe a challenge you and your team face:
I like to approach each single project as a new challenge. We work for many different industries and companies, so it is always a challenge to discover a complete new topic and to fully permeate and understand it. One of our clients builds water pumps – in order to build a monitoring and control app for these devices it was necessary to dig deeply into the technical background. For another client, a start-up in the iHealth and quantified self sector, we had to learn a lot about the algorithms that describe human locomotion. If you do not dive into these subjects your design work will become arbitrary and changeable and you will not reach the functional depth that a product must have to be highly relevant for its users. Our clear strategic process helps us meet these challenges and applies to every sector.
What is a campaign you worked on that was especially successful and why?
In our view, we are only successful when our clients are satisfied and want to build long-term relationships with us. Our collaboration with Messe Frankfurt for example grew out of a relatively small project in 2014 – a brand portal – and still continues today with a project for a completely new ticketing system.
An approach like this works best by mutual inspiration: In one of the projects for example, we created a living (digital) style guide for our internal use. Messe Frankfurt got inspired and we started a new project to create one for them.
What does the word creativity mean to you, in your own words?
Well, I guess it is the ability to think outside the box, to free your mind deliberately and come up with something new.”Look beyond the edge of the plate” we say in German. But that also implies that I know about recent trends and developments – to stay ahead.
What do you do for inspiration?
I walk the world with eyes wide open. It is important to stay open to what is happening around you.
What do you like doing in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my kids.
Which countries excite you most in terms of digital creativity?
I find the Scandinavian design quite inspiring.
Where do you see web design and development going in 5 or 10 years?
The internet of things is gathering momentum. A wide range of different user interfaces – graphical, natural, tangible, conversational – will allow us to interact with all kinds of things.
For creative workers this means they need to stay flexible and broaden their scope if they want to stay in the business.
What is a digital trend that is here to stay, at least for the relative time being?
The end of the static image: responsive design, not really a trend anymore, will prevail and put an end to static layout. Also transitions and animations: motion design as part of the interface that will become even more important.
What advice do you often give to people who are starting to work in your same field?
Try to start working in a good agency right from the beginning. This will give you the best opportunity to learn and it will help you move forward in your career.