What I learnt from remote working abroad for a week

Remote working abroad… waking up with the beach stretched out in front of you, meeting and mingling with other creatives and blending work with a love for travel. Yep, that’s pretty much the crowning glory of freelance life. Because, what is more flexible thanto pack up your bags and say “Later peeps, I’m working in Bali for a month.

After travelling around Sri Lanka, I spent one week of remote working to test the tropical waters for myself. Here’s my experience and a few tips on how to make it the best experience for yourself.

What is remote working?

First things first, what is remote work? Remote working basically means a “new” type of work that goes beyond the traditional walls of office space. It means working from anywhere and still keeping that hustle going. This way of working is not necessarily reserved for only freelancers or entrepreneurs. Nowadays, employees often get a day to work at home or elsewhere. It can be a day or a month or it can be your entire year but it can also be a workcation, aka. where holiday meets work. 

Vacation Mode vs. Work Mode

It sounds pretty dreamy, working from a topical place or a new city but don’t forget that it’s also a challenge. Staying disciplined and actually getting work done won’t just magically happen without a lot of effort and self-discipline. We’re wired in a way that being in a tropical setting or even just a brand new city means one thing and one thing only: Vacaaaay. So when all of a sudden you realise “wait a sec I was supposed to be doing work,” it just goes against every fibre of your body to start working.

Look, I love the beach. So working behind my laptop with an ocean view feels like the holy grail of office goals. But turns out, the waves calling my name wasn’t great for concentration. Luckily as a freelancer, I go through all the ups and downs of self-discipline. It’s something I know how to overcome. If didn’t have this experience, I probably would have been floating in the sea all day. By challenging yourself abroad you’re also practising for back home. This will be useful to create more discipline in your day-to-day work schedule.

I’d say to give yourself some time to get into the rhythm – don’t go straight into an intense work mode immediately – give it time, get used to the place. After just two days of working I figured out I don’t function at all with the heat around noon, so I worked in the early morning hours, went to yoga, chilled at the beach and worked after lunch time when it cooled down. If you have a short time like me, it’s a little trickier to find out what works best for you, but the important thing is to keep trying different things or different spots to work at even in a co-working space. After 3 days I knew exactly what time I was most productive, where my favourite spot to work was at what time of the day and when.

Digital Nomad Office Goals

An ideal workspace or homespun office really depends on the person. You have the freedom to design your own remote working holiday. Whatever it is you need to stay motivated and inspired, it’s up to you to make that happen. The internet is overflowing with information so it’s easy to do lots of research before you leave. 

If you’re up for a remote working abroad, you don’t have to fly halfway across the world. For the Europeans reading this, there are places like Porto or Barcelona with great co-working/living places to check out. Or if you want to travel a bit further and prefer the hustle of a big city rather than relaxed beach vibes, head out to New York or Medellin. The point is to get out of your comfort zone, discover a new place, find new inspiration and just enjoy the freedom you have to work from anywhere you want. If you can escape the 9 to 5 office routine, why not?

When you’ve chosen the country or countries you’d like to go to, the next choice to make is where you’d like to work and live from. The options for a digital nomad abroad are endless. You can find co-working spaces that are also co-living spaces like Verse or Hubud. At these places, your holiday becomes a home, which becomes an office – and that is an experience in itself. You can also choose to book yourself into an Airbnb, hotel or guest house near a good co-working space. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of a co-working space and take a step back from the hustle somewhere else. 

Co-working spaces take away all the hassle of a remote working trip. Here you’re guaranteed good wifi,  desks or comfy chairs to work from, other digital nomads and good coffee. But these millennial hubs aren’t your only option. A charming Airbnb or hotel room with good wifi, a desk and anything else you’ll need to get work done will also do. Having a place catered to your needs as a remote worker is great and meeting new like-minded people even better. But a little peace and quiet at your own home-away-from-home can do wonders for your work as well.

Remember, it's still a holiday (sort of)

The point is not to drench yourself in guilt every time you relax a little. Don’t forget the vacation part of workcation. Free time is not only beneficial for your work progress, but it’s also necessary. Both your wellbeing and work will be better off. I did heaps of reading, journaling, yoga and just lying on the beach doing absolutely nothing. I’d suggest to really find something else you can do when you’re there. You could learn how to surf, go to cooking classes or just schedule in some time to explore the city and local food.

Moments like having dinner at a local place or just relaxing, often make room for great ideas. As a copywriter, sentences or phrases for clients will come up when the pressure dials down. Just make sure you have notebook handy and go out and chill. We don’t get enough chances to really be by ourselves and relax back home. So grab the chance when you can. 

If you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur or if your employer gives you the opportunity to work elsewhere, I don’t see any reason why not to try out some remote working. Have a little googling around, ask your community and figure out what you need to get lots of work done abroad. Remember, you decide the terms of your remote working trip. That’s the best part.

I’ve added a few of the best co-working and co-living spaces for you to check out yourself:

https://nomad.life/

https://www.swissescape.co/

https://restation.co/

https://hubud.org/

You can also check out https://nomadlist.com/. Pieter Levels, an Amsterdam Entrepreneur, has set up a list of the best cities to live and work remotely in. It scores cities on things like internet, safety and fun.

For freelancing pros and cons check out Toptal’s ultimate freelancing guide
Read more: Ultimate Freelancing Guide


Three inspiring takeaways from The Next Web

Photo credit: Dan Taylor

Every year, tech-enthusiasts flock to Amsterdam for one of the most popular conferences in the industry: The Next Web. We of course, couldn’t miss this either and quickly got our tickets to join in on the fun. It was three days jam-packed with inspiring talks, heaps of mingling fun and we even got to meet our heroes. Jongky, David and Jeffrey share what inspired them from their favourite talk.

Besides going for our yearly inspirational fix, we had a story to tell ourselves as well. We’ve created ForteFor, a platform for freelancers to find projects they’ll love. Geared up in logo tees, we connected with other freelancers at the conference and pitched our idea to pretty much anyone we could find.

Want to know more about Fortefor? Check out the website.

Jason Silva – Futurist & Filmmaker

(yes, also that guy from Brain Games)

“Forget robots, in the future, we could become technology”

Technology is rapidly changing, opening possibilities of the future. Humans are linear thinkers while technology is exponential, to stretch our imagination of the future we need to align our mindset to technology. We need to become exponential thinkers and technology will help us transcend our biological nature. We are becoming programmable, we are code (DNA) and have authorship over our owns species. As Jason puts it, “the future of us is ours to dream.”

Rich Pierson – Co-founder & CEO Headspace

“Take care of your Mind”

As a day to day struggle, the mind is mostly at the top of our list. Headspace’s goal is to prevent this, with meditation made simple. Increasing (com)passion while decreasing aggression with a free mindfulness app and a few minutes of your day. As long as you’re present in the moment, meditation is a skill to become mindful and the same goes for activities such as running. The presentation was full of insights and tips but we particularly like this one: don’t get rid of the things that you don’t like, get closer and form a different relationship to it.

Susan Lindner – Founder & CEO, Emerging Media

“Inspire employees with a higher purpose”

In our modern world, disengagement is often hard to avoid. Leaders can retain top talents by connecting them to a higher purpose that goes beyond the 9-5 framework. Engaging them with an authentic story that they can get behind and become ambassadors of. Patagonia is a fantastic example, giving employees the opportunity to support environmental work. Cisco gave employees a voice by letting them takeover of the brand’s own snapchat account, within 6 months there was a 400% increase in snapchat followers.


Our favourite WeWork spots

Photo credit: Angela Tellier

We work, we hustle and we make great things happen – but sometimes we simply lose a little bit of our concentration. Thoughts drift off into dinner options (order thai or make your go-to pasta?), we’re talking more to our neighbours than typing that important email or we can’t stop checking the latest Instagram stories. When this happens, there’s only one thing left to do. Switch things up.
Luckily, we’re in the stylish haven of WeWork, which lets us bring new life into our workflow, without even leaving the building. Here are a few of our favourite spots.

Stephen - Fifth Floor Cocoon Chairs

My all-time favourite spot is in the kitchen area on the 5th, by the window in one of the big green chairs. It’s nice and quiet most of the time, the chairs are extremely comfortable and they feel like a cocoon which is perfect for creating a little “private” area. The chair can also turn so you can glide out of the “private” zone to the kitchen area and catch up with colleagues!

Emily - The Wellness Room

“I wanted a dedicated room for meditation for a long time here at WeWork.”

The community manager Janine and I started talking about it about a year ago and I helped out with brainstorming on the concept for the room a bit. To actually see the end result now is just great. Here hard-working professionals get a chance to unwind and recalibrate. Meditation and Yoga help you clear your head and remember where you left your inner peace. The more you remember where you parked that inner peace, which is a direct result of meditating, the more resilient and energetic you become. Guess who’s better equipped to take on their stressful projects now?

One day being able to close your eyes and reconnect with your inner peace will be as accepted as deserving to have a healthy lunch is nowadays. Whenever you are ready, come give it a try!

Wing - First Floor High Desks

I love working on the first floor, by the large windows overlooking the hallway entrance. It checks all the right boxes to get me into concentration, but most importantly the high desks let me work standing – which key to switching things up during the day. It’s usually very quiet and calm over there. And as a bonus; it’s also one of the only places in the building that doesn’t have music playing.

Nikos - Ground Floor Secret Staircase

My favourite spot in WeWork would have to be the staircase area on ground floor. I love this spot as it gives me the opportunity to work standing up to get into a different mode than you’re sitting. It also has an amazing view of the canals and lovely typical Amsterdam buildings, for a nice dose of inspiration!


The freelancers guide to finding your niche

Photo credit: Angela Tellier

It’s no secret that the freelance scene is getting crowded, and we get why. A lifestyle of working from home, being your own boss and just doing what you love sounds like a dream. Last week we talked to our Graphic Designer Jeffrey Goodett about how he managed to stand out from the crowd, and as promised we’re sharing a few tips on how you can find your own niche as a freelancer.

So, what exactly do we mean with niche? You’ve got writers and you’ve got medical writers, developers and developers who also have a unique eye for design, UX designers who are networking pros and graphic designers who are also kick-ass animators. Your niche as a freelancer is anything that makes you stand out. Your niche can be rooted in a new skill, specialization or knowledge of a specific field, but it can also be found in certain personality traits.

Freelancing requires personal branding (more on that later) and in order to do that you have to figure out, just as you would for a new startup business, what makes you stand out. You want people to know concretely what they can get out of you. The more you specify your skills, the more professional and knowledgeable you will appear to clients. This is not to say you can’t get by being able to do multiple things, but it can help you get ahead of the game.

The Tips & tricks to finding your Niche:

1. Get a sense of the field

There’s no way to know how you stand out if you don’t know what you’re standing out from. LinkedIn is a godsend when it comes to seeing what other freelancers in your field are doing. Have a look at their portfolio and their bio, this can say a lot about the kinds of ways you can stand out and might inspire you as well to find your own unique superpower. Getting a sense of the field also means learning about trends and what companies are looking for. Find freelance requests or job openings on different platforms, Facebook groups and LinkedIn to create a better understanding of what is sought-after.

2. Brainstorm your troubles away

Sometimes pen and paper can go a long way. Without overthinking, brainstorm about what makes you unique. Look for work specific traits but also what defines your personality. Are you super outgoing, analytical or dreamy – think about how that can help to make you unique. Then explore your interests, what inspires you and what gets you out of bed in the morning. Say you love to travel or are obsessed with obscure art-house movies, how can that help you make your mark?

3. Follow the motto: no guts no glory

Getting out of your comfort zone can lead to exciting new opportunities. Take yourself to new places, try new things and meet new people. Don’t sit around hoping that things will fall into place, because even if that might happen sometimes – there’s a good chance it won’t.

Don’t be afraid to fully go for something you’ve always wanted to do like starting a blog, making a short movie or organizing an event. You don’t have to share this with everyone and it doesn’t have to have thousands of people checking it out, as long as you’ve explored new territories. It might get picked up, it’s always good for your portfolio and fantastic to develop your unique self: so there is literally no reason not to go for it!

4. Soak up all the knowledge you can find

Get yourself a few books, listen to podcasts, watch tutorials and read articles that have to do with whatever field you’re in. In the age of internet, the amount of information is simply endless, so bask in the glory of all that is available to you. Getting to know more about your craft, the stories of others and the tips they have for you can inspire you to find your own niche.


As Good as it gets: Jeffrey Goodett on finding his niche

Photo credit: Angela Tellier

As a freelancer, you’ll quickly realize that you’re not alone. Whether you’re coding, writing or designing awesome things, there will be at least ten others that can offer something similar – and that’s just counting that hipster café you sometimes use as a workspace. Besides hustling, and working on client relationships, standing out will be key to your success.

Our go-to guy for all things graphic design, Jeffrey Goodett knows all about standing out. Having earned the motto ‘In Good We Trust’ he has a repertoire of visual freshness, an eye for detail and extensive branding expertise. But most importantly: he has found and taught himself his own special graphic superpower. We talk to Jeff to find out more about how he found his niche and how it strengthened his position as a freelancer.

From visual whizz-kid to full-time freelancer

Jeffrey’s journey into graphic design started when he was in his late teens. Before we were liking things on Facebook or getting lost on Instagram, there was a platform in Holland called Partypeeps2000. Jeff tells us, “It was all about who had the coolest pictures, so people started to experiment with visual effects on photos. I started trying things out, adding things like dragons, lightning bolts and lions – and before I knew it, I was getting request after request.” This got picked up by a few people, and soon he got invited by the local community center to follow a workshop at the graphic design agency Machine. He says, “I truly found my passion here and 14 years later you can still see how much they have influenced my work and style.” A month later, charged with newfound knowledge, he started his course at the graphic design school.

What followed were many years of taking on exciting projects but graphic design became his side-gig rather than the real deal. Two years ago, he met David and Stephen from Ngrane and started working for them. “They were just the push I needed and offered me a place to work in WeWork – I quit my day job when more and more projects started rolling in,” he says.

Getting ahead of the game

When asking him about the level of competition he said, “Sure there’s competition, but in the past, this felt much stronger for me. Now that I’m more seasoned I feel like I’ve gotten ahead of the game.” Turns out that in this level of the game, everyone is doing their own thing, something Jeff truly admires. “For me, it’s less about competition and more about companionship and keeping the craft alive.” He gives the example of a friend Erjee, who also did an internship at Machine and works in a more analogue way, using tangible materials like objects and food to write with, he says “That really keeps me going, seeing others owning their own signature moves.”

Finding your edge

Part of getting to that top level of most-wanted freelancers, is finding and working on your niche. As Jeffrey explains, this isn’t always easy, “I simply enjoyed making beautiful things but more and more companies started to expect a second layer to my skills. For other designers that layer was mostly to do with the technical side of things, like designing a website but also being able to build it. That technical side just wasn’t for me and that made me feel lost, like I couldn’t keep up.” As some sort of fate, Jeff stumbled upon something brand new, something that really turned things around for him. He tells us, “I was working on a video together with a friend/partner in crime and we decided that adding graphics to it would really finish it off. Since I was the graphic designer and he the filmmaker I was basically told to figure it out even though I didn’t have the slightest clue how. Looking back it’s funny how these things just happen.” That was the start for Jeff into what he calls a “snowball effect” to finding his new skill.

When asked about how he taught himself this new skill he says, “I started off with a sincere interest which is key to get the ball rolling. That motivated me to spend my free time looking up tutorials, reading up on the topic and just practicing – instead of spending all night on Netflix.” He explains that in the digital age of information, the amount of information is almost endless. In addition, Jeff uses the resources he has around him, friends and peers that can explain things to him.

Do what you love, do it well

As a freelancer selling your own brand becomes just as much part of the job as the actual work you deliver. Therefore, it is key that you figure out what it is that makes you unique. “People should know exactly what they can get out of you, whether it is a particular style, knowledge of a specific field or a special skill you’ve got up your sleeves,” says Jeffrey. Besides that, he says it’s important to find something that’s relevant and in-demand, in his case video is a booming media for brands online.

Finding your own unique edge can feel a little daunting. But don’t feel discouraged, there are plenty of ways to stand out – whether you’re a social butterfly, skilled with something unique or have in-depth knowledge of a particular field. Stay updated for our post next week on how to find that edge.

As a final tip for now; remember that things take time, don’t expect to stumble upon a newfound skill and learn it in a day. It takes practice, experience and guts to take things a step further. But most importantly as Jeff puts it, “find something you love, something you’re passionate about because that’s what will truly keep you going.”


Finding your way through the Millennial maze: Wing Man knows how

It’s no coincidence Wing’s surname is Man. She is like a matchmaker between brands and millennials, the genius behind catchy one-liners and smooth talk that will make millennials tick. But more than that, as part of the Ngrane family, Wing is our coach for all things millennial. After her corporate job created her own burn-out, Wing came across the lost-in-life dilemmas that many of her generation have faced. She tells us “Basically, I have learned the hard way on how to pick yourself up again, how not to live by approval from others and how to be kinder to myself. Also on how to find my purpose and make full use of my talents.”

Not knowing where to go for help has given Wing the first-hand experience that inspired 3310.s, a school to make the lives of fellow millennials easier. And with businesses going mad for the attention of millennials, who wouldn’t want to find out more about how to tap into this eponymous generation? We talk to her about all things millennial: who they are, what interests them and how 3310 is ticking all the right millennial boxes.

“Basically, I have learned the hard way on how to pick yourself up again, how not to live by approval from others and how to be kinder to myself.”

Looking for happiness, finding choice

When I asked Wing to describe who exactly the millennial is, she answered, “There isn’t one archetype millennial. What ties this generation is a much broader sense of transition.” Spanning 15-20 years (there is an ongoing debate about the confines of this age group), across different social classes and cultures, it makes sense there aren’t prototype millennials walking around in trance of exactly the same apps, drinking overpriced Flat Whites and passionate about the same brands. Wing tells us “Even if we just look at Amsterdam, we can’t say that a 25-year-old Snapchat enthusiast and a 34-year-old startup founder should always be marketed to in the same way. But you can say that they have experienced similar if not the same things, coming across the same challenges and searching for the same enlightenment.”

Instead of a unified identity, this generation (much like any other) is defined by a broader social, economic and political unification. “Millennials have all gone through the same transition of growing up without technology and emerging into a digital evolution with the blink of an eye,” says Wing. As guinea pigs of the technological revolution, they became adults in not only one of the worst economic recessions but in a world where choices were in extreme overload. As Wing puts it “Things changed rapidly for us. The route to success was no longer simple. Going to a good school, getting a good job, a family and house were no longer the key success signifiers. We were taught to search for happiness, not money, but in return all this did was overcomplicate things.” Income, the burn-out.

The ‘Always on’ generation

LinkedIn invitations, 5 pm Instagram posts, office happy hours, morning Pilates, catching up on the latest NYT article… the list goes on. “We want, need and have just about anything; creating endless choices and expectations” says Wing. Indeed, we want to feed Thursday night dinner conversation with tales of our buzzing social life and unique jobs. Yet, more importantly, we want an Instagram feed that perfectly captures and literally filters our days into likable content. With a generation that is in the grips of social media, it often feels like there is always someone scrolling through your feed or checking on that spelling mistake you tweeted. Or worse, judging you when you’re slacking off on your millennial duties.

“Being ‘always on’ does not only apply to our digital lives, it counts for every aspect of our day. We’re not spared any breathing room.”

Go on LinkedIn and you won’t find a job description that doesn’t say “not a 9 to 5 mentality” as one of the criteria for an ideal candidate. Work trickles into our evening hours like never before, as Wing puts it: “Being ‘always on’ does not only apply to our digital lives, it counts for every aspect of our day. We’re not spared any breathing room in between. It drains our mental capacity and energy levels: that’s what causes burn-outs.” She goes on to say that “Now when you ask people ‘Hey how are you doing?’ The answer is almost always: Tired or busy. That really got me thinking: there is something fundamentally wrong in the way we are living.”

From burnouts to flaming hot life skills

To help ease these generations problems, such as burn-outs, Wing started the 3310 school: a school for grown-ups you actually want to go to. She says that “You don’t have to teach us how to use a smartphone, but we do want to learn how to keep a healthy work-life balance. With 3310, I aspire to help fellow Millennials with my experience to make our lives easier for ourselves.”

Am I doing what I love? How do I put myself on the map without boasting? How do I deal with unwanted feedback? These are all questions that weren’t answered in our days at school and often not easy to find answers to now. As Wing puts it “Unless you have found the meaning of life, why stop learning?”

Don’t go chasing waterfalls

As there is no millennial prototype but a broader sense unification, getting the attention of millennials is about tapping into the generational challenges. 3310 school may be a literal translation of problem-solving, but if you’re a brand and looking to connect with millennials the same will count for you. We can learn from Wing and her school that as a brand, you need to have a good understanding of what this generation is put up against.

“We can learn from Wing and her school that as a brand, you need to have a good understanding of what this generation is put up against.”

There’s one more thing that has created a bond between millennials: an intoxicating cocktail of nostalgia and pop-culture. And Wing has the perfect recipe for throwback themes and languages in the way her brand communicates. “The name 3310 actually came from the old Nokia 3310 that was the ‘it’ phone for a while. Nostalgia can tie us together, we all loved that phone, we can all relate to Gameboy obsessions and sing along to Craig David.” Wing has cleverly used this to create a connection and engagement between her and her millennial audience.

Turns out brands and ultimately fussed-over generation are equally lost in the ‘millennial maze’. Finding a meeting point somewhere in there is not an easy feat. Try reading up on what they’re going through, talking to millennials or if you’re a Millennial yourself, contemplate on where you and your friends feel lost in. Understanding millennials on a ‘meta-level’ will foster loyalty and build meaningful relationships. To stay in the 90s lane, it’ll make sure you ‘don’t go chasing waterfalls’.

Check out 3310 for more millennial know-how, see you at the next workshop?
https://www.3310.school/


Ngrane’it goes live: let’s join forces!

Photo credit: Angela Tellier

Two months ago, I joined the Ngrane family, teaming up with Stephen and David to build the hybrid model for the new workforce: part traditional agency and part freelance talent platform. As an experienced recruiter, I have taken on the challenge to innovate the trade I work in.

The goal now for Ngrane is to create a haven of support and collaboration in which I have become the ‘Chief Of Talent’. Working as an intermediate between digital specialists and the businesses that seek their unique expertise as well as boosting talent acquisition.

The industry asked, we’re making it happen. As the number of freelancers and the demand for their specialized skills is skyrocketing, so is the request to smoothen out this process between the two. We believe that as the way we work has taken a new route, so should recruitment. Which is why we started Ngrane’it as a separate unit from the Ngrane Digital Agency. It is a platform with personality that caters to unique digital talents and couples them with brands in need of their skills, both as flexible freelancers or long-term and on-site.

So far so good, as we’ve got our first success story on our hands: creating a perfect match digital talent and the company, Ernst & young.

Now that Ngrane’it is officially live, we’re looking to join forces. So, is your talent digital? Are you looking for exciting new projects to work on? Or is your business looking for specific expertise?

Send me a mail, call me (+31 614222952) or come over and meet the team!


The dawn of a new day: how David is leading Ngrane's rebranding

Photo credit: Angela Tellier

From subdued to vibrant, from sturdy professionalism to a unique persona: we talk to David about how he’s freshening up the Ngrane branding.

As they say, old ways don’t open new doors and Ngrane has never been the type of digital agency to get stuck behind a closed door. After a long process of evolving and adapting to the changes of the industry, it was time to freshen up the branding. As a co-founder of the agency and all-round creative force, David van Delden was more than ready for the task. In the midst of this rebranding process, we talked to him about the path they are taking and why, as he told us, “There were so many changes happening within Ngrane and in the industry, it was time to go back to the drawing board and reveal our new identity to the outside world.”

 

How it Began

When Stephen and David started Ngrane, things were a little different. The tech industry, their playing field, was more white collar than white sneakers. David tells us “10 years ago I started to brainstorm with Stephen about building our own digital agency, we looked up to the big tech players of that time. They looked serious, they looked sleek and they’re branding reflected their monotone suits. Our logo was a direct reflection of the inner and outer workings of the industry: sturdy, professional and efficient.”

“The seeds for a modern and creative work mentality were already planted, but the branding was not yet in full bloom.”

 

Disruption in the tech industry

The tech industry had been shaken up by brands like Google and Facebook, but it was only at the second generation of start-ups like Uber and WeWork that Ngrane started to really turn things around. “The seeds for a modern and creative work mentality were already planted, but the branding was not yet in full bloom,” says David. The whole culture shifted towards a ‘love what you do’ mentality with the perks of freedom and flexibility as its main driving force. That mentality was embedded into every aspect of the tech culture, “What was once all about being professional now became all about personality; app instructions sound like friends, service is more personal than in stores and Chatbots are more alive than ever.”

 

From corporate to co-working

Ngrane, along with the industry, went from corporate to co-working. David tells us that “The personality, the service, the deep rooted connection were already there but now we’re finding ways to bring more light to our strong features. The rebranding needed to reflect that sense of community and passion.”

Photo credit: Angela Tellier

“The rebranding needed to reflect that sense of community and passion.”

The Rebranding

No detail is left behind in this process, from typography to accent colours; everything needed a little freshening up. Together with Ngrane’s in-house Graphic Designer Jeffrey Goodett, David has been working on updating the Brand Identity. Giving it a new spin that is friendlier, more inclusive and crisp, without losing the slick sturdiness of the branding that came before it.

For starters the colours have become more lively, giving off a friendlier and less masculine appeal. Along with liveliness comes a diverse palette, which reflects back into the diversity of the people behind Ngrane. “Our colours used to be very minimal, we changed this around completely. To stand out from the tech crowd and add a little feminine friendliness we opted for a pinkish red as our main colour. This welcoming and warm red is combined with a bolder and brighter blue, for a unique result. This same signature red gives our logo a whole new dimension and energy, which is why we chose to keep the shape the same.”

Along with new colours the two branding pro’s chose to opt for more illustrations rather than photography. “A photo leaves no room for imagination, an illustration can reach more people by being open to interpretation. We are a diverse and imaginative agency and that is key in our new communication,” he says.

The evolution of Ngrane’s logo. Drag left/right and see for yourself.

“We are a diverse and imaginative agency and that is key to our new communication.”

Rebranding is a natural part of any business but it’s not always the easiest. It takes time, a lot of thought and nitpicking, like choosing between two almost identical colours. Rebranding is more than just choosing colours though, every aspect and every detail is equally important. “We’re breathing new life into every aspect of our agency, from a more energised tone of voice to a kick-ass website and stronger social media presence. It’s not one or the other its a process that evolves as a whole,” says David. As we watch this whole coming together we’re excited to see the result of a revamped Ngrane identity. Until then, no rest for the ‘rebranders’.


Oiling the wheels of a new workforce

Ingraining personality into a platform that smooths out the freelance lifestyle. One independent worker at a time.

The digital evolution is turning efficiency into freedom, with specialised freelancers now on demand more than ever. Work experience has been redefined and Ngrane’s managing partner, Stephen Garcia, has got a few great ideas up his sleeves regarding this evolution. Lots of ideas actually, which he will try to explain in a nutshell but always ends up being more like a TED Talk. Combining personal experience with in-depth research, he devised a new platform strategy that works as a hybrid between traditional and modern work values. We haven’t got an actual TED Talk but we talked to him about his ideas and vision for the platform with personality.

The workforce has taken the fast lane when it comes to flexibility and freelancers are officially becoming the norm. Stephen has noticed this trend first hand “There is so much more demand for new specialised skills, such as user experience designers, app developers and digital marketing experts. This new workforce is a melting pot of diverse backgrounds and skills, more high profile and attractive than ever before,” he says. As a Digital Agency, Ngrane works with both freelancers and full-time employed staff, as Stephen puts it the agency is a “crossover between the modern workforce and traditional values.”

“This new workforce is a melting pot of diverse backgrounds and skills, more high profile and attractive than ever before”

Living an autonomous and independent lifestyle does not come without a few downsides. Often freelancers miss a sense of belonging, a community and personal contact. These values, linked to traditional workforce, are lacking in many platforms, including those that pair talent with business. According to research done by JPMorgan Chase, one in six online platform workers is new every month and 50% stop within one year. Stephen tells us that a lot of this stems from the demise in human connection “Platforms should address the lack of engagement with existing workers, and recognise and meet their diverse motivation and needs. One size just does not fit all. The market is expanding rapidly with the increase of freelancers and other trends. The current platform models are lacking 3 factors that research shows are crucial for long-term success. Therefore Ngrane will focus on these 3 areas; personalisation and coaching, premium service and tools, and collaboration and community.”

“It’s in our name, Ngrane comes from ingrain, we’re in the business of creating deep-rooted relationships.”

The new hybrid model

Ngrane will become a hybrid model for the new workforce: part traditional agency and part freelance talent platform. It will bring back meaningful and long-lasting connections into the digital arena. “It’s in our name, Ngrane comes from ingrain, we’re in the business of creating deep-rooted relationships,” says Stephen. The model acts on both a physical and digital environment. The physical will build on human connections through co-working spaces such as WeWork, organising events, personal coaching and by creating a sense of comradeship between freelancers. Instead of working at home on the couch, Skyping everyone or spending your hourly rate in a busy Starbucks: a co-working space can add a little traditional comfort to your trailblazing lifestyle. Stephen goes on to tell us that, “Whilst the digital platform model will serve for efficiency in attracting, organising, developing and managing talent. Freelancers will have the space to work on their own goals, maintaining their personal freedom, without compromising on social belonging. This model will foster happiness, creativity, productivity, and social connections. Fostering even better results.”

“We are a collective of unique individuals”

Ngrane’s new model will take user experience beyond just the digital arena. What we often forget is that user experience is about much more than just being efficient, a personal connection can weigh in just as much. “We elevate the unique skills of each individual,  tailoring our service to each freelancer and giving them more room to pursue projects that inspire them and fuel them creatively,” says Stephen. Yes freelancers can have it all and Ngrane is going to make it happen.