Kentie: ‘If Eindhoven stops, the world stops’

Bart van Bavel (Fifth NRE and Sprout Coffee Roasters) is having a coffee with Peter Kentie (Eindhoven365). Coffee: the social lubricant of choice, according to Bart. While Bart makes Peter an espresso macchiato (Peter’s favourite), he asks Peter about the meaning of coffee. Peter: “Coffee can create the right atmosphere at the right time. When I had to pitch the Eindhoven logo, I stood behind the espresso machine myself making coffee for the council members. I really believe that it instantly set the right vibe for us presenting our ‘vibes’. I had everyone on board that night.”

Text: Ine van de Laar
Image: Linda Berretty

Bart: Let’s get straight to the Eindhoven vibes. How did that logo evolve and what is it based on?

Eindhoven is built on co-creation. That’s why we didn’t use just one agency to design the logo or make a pitch to four different agencies. In my opinion, the latter is a sheer waste of capital. No, we did it the way befitting of Eindhoven: by working together. We assembled a team of the best specialists from a range of disciplines. This group of creative minds worked closely together on Eindhoven’s story and on the logo that was based on it. I strongly believe that this approach is why the logo now enjoys such widespread support.

How does a city become a brand? It’s already difficult enough for companies to establish a brand name and create the right brand experience, how on earth do you do that for a city?

Every city is a brand, but it’s important to be a brand that actually becomes something in people’s minds, that promises and inspires something. What makes a city different from a company is that the brand is more of an image. The Nike brand and its brand promise is experienced the same by everyone. The brand of a city, the image, is a perception and this can be approached very differently. Let’s return to the background of my task of creating a new marketing logo for the city: Eindhoven had a problem.

The general public’s perception of Eindhoven was not exactly positive. ‘Philips had moved to Amsterdam for a reason and DAF was bankrupt, right?’ Exactly, it was all about perception. Fortunately, you can change that with marketing. But in order to achieve that, you have to make some clear choices as a city. You have to tell a story. That story has to have substance, has to be meaningful, and be told to the right people. We are fortunate in Eindhoven to have strong leaders who are prepared to push the limits and whose DNA runs incredibly deep.

‘The first Philips logo, with the stars and the waves, it just crackled.’

What is the DNA of Eindhoven? And what I’m also curious about is – what happened to the diamond that was Eindhoven’s logo for, was it 15 years, I believe? Wasn’t that strong enough?

My initial assignment was: ‘Design a marketing logo for the city of Eindhoven.’ Sounds like a pretty safe assignment, doesn’t it? When I started doing research and looked at the marketing strategies of other cities, a question soon popped up: ‘Are we going to have two logos in Eindhoven, just like in Amsterdam, for example – the three xxx’s and I’am Amsterdam?’ Suppose you come to live in Eindhoven and receive a letter from the municipality. Which logo will be on the letterhead – the municipal logo, the diamond, or the marketing logo? Are you going to tell two stories then? Thankfully, we soon agreed to have one logo for the entire city: the three vibes. These vibes, three horizontal sparks, bring together the characteristics of Eindhoven and its DNA. It represents the energy of everything that happens in Eindhoven. And the logo is open source, so anyone can use it and has permission to do so. That’s unique in the world.

It seems as if Eindhoven managed to do this ‘in a blink of an eye’. There was a powerful logo and the ‘share the vibe’ campaign seemed to be an enormous success, the fruits of which we here at Fifth and Sprout are also reaping. How smoothly did it go in real life?

It was – as it should be – a process. A lot of hours were spent at the drawing board. Somewhere in the middle we thought we were there, but in the end we felt that the logo was too simple. To add a new dynamic to the process, we started working with the ‘twelve brand archetypes’ by Jung. The question was: ‘Which archetype is Eindhoven?’ And who knew? Eindhoven is a ‘magician’. You come to Eindhoven and this city raises you up to a higher level and makes you better and stronger. That sparked new inspiration.

Then, when the designers looked at their initial sketches, they saw that they had put all this ‘energy’ into them. Like the first Philips logo with the stars and the waves, that image just crackled. We talked about the core values of this city, but words like tolerant, open and friendly didn’t really do it justice. You can use those words to describe just about any city. Value theory has no place in a city; it’s all about mentality. Instead of values, we described expressions that fit Eindhoven: unconventional, cooperation and energy. This was the springboard for developing the logo further, and the vibes were born. We only had one logo to pitch to the councillors, but it was a powerful one that the council also agreed to anonymously. And no, it wasn’t really because of the coffee I made at our office where the presentation was held.

Alluding to the theme of this issue of WATT, is the logo Eindhoven’s capital?

Eindhoven’s capital is our identity and the story that is based on it. It is a promise that attracts people here from all over the world. Eindhoven has an international history, a fascinating present, and a future with the wow factor. Eindhoven has energy, guts and power. Our DNA is our capital which we can continue to build upon in this ‘golden age’ of Eindhoven.

The logo is not a standard municipal logo, if you ask me. What makes this logo and the story of Eindhoven unique?

The logo has a distinctive shape and is not necessarily everyone’s instant favourite, but it does stand for something. Municipal logos are often soft with rounded shapes, accessible to everyone. Our logo is a declaration of the greatest dreams that we make possible here, by working hard and by working together.

What makes it even more unique is that the logo can be used freely. Do you know what was the first communication to use this logo? The WOZ property valuation assessment. The public officials were eager to be the first to use it. It wasn’t the most obvious opportunity for contact, but – as it should be in Eindhoven – they wanted to move forward. You can now see the logo on clothing and incorporated into desserts. It’s worth mentioning that the font cannot be freely used. This ‘sticky tape font’ can be found on the municipality’s advertising as well as in the PSV club’s numbers. Parts of this distinctive font have been left out, as if it has been manipulated with duct tape. By keeping things open, you create interest and attention. Curiosity turns people on. That’s exactly what we want to achieve in Eindhoven.‘Eindhoven is a ‘magician’. You come to Eindhoven and this city raises you up to a higher level.’You often talk about the story of Eindhoven. Who is telling that story?

Eindhoven has a number of ambassadors who are telling the story – including you, Bart. Eindhoven is an ecosystem where we all work together on its reputation and the promise it holds. That is truly unprecedented. You are an archetype in this story. You stay true to your dreams; you bring craftsmanship to the people. Even though the costs are higher and it takes more energy, you continue roasting coffee and making cocktails in the traditional way. When you are small, you can still make a big impact, just like Eindhoven. But make no mistake, although Eindhoven is smaller than Rotterdam-Zuid, if Eindhoven stops, the world stops.

I am definitely an ambassador for Eindhoven and enjoy telling Eindhoven’s story to guests and to suppliers from outside Eindhoven. Just like our customers, for example ZwartWit Koffie, tell the story of our coffee. Eindhoven is not only full of magicians, but also full of storytellers.

We sit down at the round bar for a glass of sparkling water. While Bart leans on the beer tap, the conversation soon turns to beer. One of the taps has the ‘Fifth’ logo on it. When Peter asks which beer comes from this tap, Bart replies:

Just like what you just told us, this is a deliberate incentive to make you ask that question. It sparks your interest, doesn’t it? Leaving a little open to the imagination and not knowing the answer is not only stimulating for the brand experience of a city, but also for an Eindhoven restaurant and bar. So you see, we all like to arouse curiosity here.

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