A Berlin-based Team Marching to its Own Beat
Berlin, June 21th, 2016
Based in Berlin, Germany, Ape Unit is a digital agency with a unique mindset. Calling themselves a “digital task force”, the team of eleven is equally comprised of developers and designers. Together they work to seamlessly blend both components of digital design to create lasting campaigns for their clients. Ape Unit mostly works for other bigger agencies, completing their team with the digital approach. Many of these agencies may not have the resources and special manpower to do the digital part.
This is where Ape Unit comes in to finish the task. Working mostly with German companies and looking to expand to London, Ape Unit offers everything from UI/UX design to web development and app development. To learn more about the team at Ape Unit, we chatted with Alexandre Peschel. As one of the agency’s managing partners and founders, Alexandre has been with the company since its founding in 2010 and is proud to be part of the close-knit team that is Ape Unit. It’s interesting to note that none of Ape Unit’s founders hold university degrees. The agency is a success story and a reminder that creativity and good design work doesn’t always need to take the most traditional path.
If you could describe your agency in 3 words what would those be?
Eager, equal, and enormous – meaning we aim to create the largest possible impact. To understand more what we aim for as an agency, read our Manifesto that spells it all out.
What is a campaign you worked on that was especially successful and why?
We recently completed the Telefonica Annual Report together with Strichpunkt Design. Whenever we are involved with a big client, there is a lot of communication finessing the details in content development and just about everything. From a design and development perspective, these projects for the large brands tend to get very complex, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the start.
Also, we’re proud of the work we did for the Academy of Arts to help them better do live streaming. Our client had a smaller budget that didn’t allow the luxury of having all the essentials of traditional TV production. We created a live stream solution kit at the price they wanted. It was extremely experimental and helped fill the need of doing live streaming on a lower budget for a series of events.
What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity is a lot about the setting and the frame for the work. For me, always one of the biggest motivations is the ability to do what I like with people I enjoy working with. Here at Ape Unit, we try to develop a family like atmosphere with little hierarchy. This setting fosters a strong environment for being creative.
Describe your daily activities:
I do a little bit of everything. A big part is trying to develop a more consistent way of dealing with different projects, so we are always trying to learn a lot in every project. There is a lot to do besides day-to-day work and communication efforts. We’re always looking to improve ourselves and the work we do.
What role does free time play into maintaining a work-life balance?
It’s very important to have free time because this dictates how the team is feeling. We are a people business, and are dependent on everybody being ok and happy. Taking free time to do the activities and passions that excite us ends up helping our office setting.
Are there online publications you and the team follow?
Speaking on behalf of myself and my coworkers, we aren’t too into the whole “agency” thing (maybe ecosphere?). Yes, we indeed are a digital agency, but we are happy to have many interests outside of our work that keep us inspired. Everyone is doing a lot besides work at the agency related to experimenting with technologies, traveling, and the arts. We find that these outside passions can give us more inspiration than being engrossed in the agency scene here in Berlin.
Where do you see the industry in ten years?
In general, things will get easier and easier and less specialists will be needed to do the work we do. One prediction I have is that the demand for agencies building websites will drop. With the passing of time, more people develop the skills and knowledge to build sites and do it on their own. You have to be able to do things nobody can do.
What advice do you often give to people who are starting to work in your same field?
I think it’s important to keep on working on these skills instead of thinking you’ll be finished developing them at some point. Building a skillset takes time, patience, and determination.
A lot of it is also about having the right mindset. It’s about being self-critical while trusting what you can do. A big part of this philosophy is understanding your intuition and instinct. You have to let yourself work in a field where you trust your instinct.