Engaging your community

Ngrane is all about community. About working from the heart. About connecting.

It’s always great when colleagues get along and get to know each other. This creates a better atmosphere, a better work environment and just better team work. But how do we get to know each other better, how do we interact, how do we connect in Covid Times?

Host a Company Wide Expo

At Ngrane, we have a couple of things we do to stay involved. We have an Expo every Friday. What exactly is an Expo, you might ask. Well, an Expo is short for an Exposition (duh), and it could be about everything. The fun part about it: everyone has to do at least one Expo per about two or three months. You choose your topic, you choose whether it’s interactive, more like a TedTalk, whether it’s fun and games or a serious debate about human rights. Wanna talk about space travel and NASA and SpaceX? Sure! Wanna talk about photography and developing film? Of course you should! Wanna give a short HTML workshop? Go ahead! Wanna share your cultural heritage? Please do! Anything is possible.

Play Games

Playing games is one of the most connecting (and sometimes disconnecting if you’re a sore loser) activities a company could think of. We used the online grounds of Gather.town a couple of times to connect after work. You can build your own online office here, and play some of their games. Good at drawing? You will like the ‘guess my drawing’ game. Good at associative thinking? Play an online version of Codenames! They have lots and lots of games you can play and it’s just a fun environment to be in.

Book Club

To dive a little deeper into our human psychologies, Stephen, our CEO, came up with a book club. Together we read Dit ben ik!, written by Lieuwe Koopmans, about Transactional Analysis. Say what? This book is about finding your true self, how to communicate about yourself and with others and how to broaden your perspective.

Transactional Analysis is a type of psychoanalytic theory and method of therapy, where your social transactions you’ve had throughout your life are analyzed. This gives valuable insights in how you communicate, and where some of your behaviours come from.

It’s not really a light read. It’s also about traumatic experiences, and how we’ve overcome them or are still overcoming them. But it does bring you as a team closer together, and helps you understand where someone might be coming from.

Of course, if you want to pick a lighter read before you start this one, do that! But discussing something you’ve all read, brings out more perspectives and will ultimately bring your team closer together.


Ngrane’s Work From Home Hacks

Even Zoom CEO Eric Yuan has Zoom fatigue.
Here are zome (see what I did there) tricks and tips.

Zooming is the new calling. The app has become an inherent part of our work from home lives.

Although it is the greatest invention of | indispensable in COVID-times, we all get tired of staring at our own faces, seeing our colleagues only in 2D and constantly staring at our blue-light blasting screens. There’s even a word for this phenomenon: Zoom fatigue.

Two weeks ago Zoom CEO Eric Yuan announced that even he has Zoom fatigue every now and then. He posted a video with some essential tips on how to use Zoom. Here’s his list:

  • Take scheduled breaks away from the computer.
  • Book meetings for 25 minutes or 55 minutes (or even try going down to 20 or 45 minutes), or end meetings early to give everyone a buffer to recover mentally between meetings.
  • Use chat or email in lieu of a meeting.
  • Try turning off self-view so you can see your colleagues’ faces, and so they can see yours, without having to see yourself.
  • Implement a “no internal meetings day” to give yourself and your employees a break. We’ve been doing this since late last year at Zoom and our employees love it.
  • Encourage employees to set boundaries around their personal time. While exceptions must be made for a global workforce, leaders should discourage night and weekend meetings.

Great tips, thanks Eric! But we have a couple to add to the list.

Welcome to NGRANE WFH Tips&Tricks. I think we all know the Zoom basics by now: mute/unmute with alt/space, gallery view/speaker view/thumbnail view, screen sharing and the lot [ no? Check this list here. ]

Our tips apply to working from home rather than the technology. Working from home can be fantastic: you can work in your most comfortable pants, shower at any time, enjoy your own delicious coffee and tea, enjoy the company of your pets & partner and blast your own music loudly at any time. 

However, working from home has its dark side. We intend to work longer, feel more guilty about taking breaks and usually spend a lot more time behind our screens. There are days we even forget to leave the house. Let’s change that. 

Don’t schedule back to back meetings.

Make sure you have time to take a break from your computer screen and grab some fresh coffee. As Eric said, make meetings as short as possible, 20 to 55 minutes max. If you do that, in combination with some space in between meetings, you have time to take care of yourself, but you will also have time to process the meetings.

Set alarms for breaks.

11 coffee break, 13 lunch, 15 another coffee / walk break. You would do the same at the office, so why not at home? Remind yourself to take those breaks to rest your eyes.

Make sure you don’t eat behind your computer.

You. need. breaks. Make sure lunch is one of those breaks! Of course, there are those days where time is scarce, but don’t make a habit out of it.

  • Also, about eating: don’t eat during Zoom calls. It may offend colleagues, you might forget to mute yourself and chew in everyone’s ears. Just don’t do it.
  • We all know the story of the lawyer who accidentally turned himself into a cat on Zoom (if not, here ya go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGOofzZOyl8), but from time to time it’s refreshing to change your background or appearance on Zoom. It works when you turn your surroundings into a relaxing beach, an underwater world or the decor of The Lord of the Rings. You just believe you’re there for a split second and can at least enjoy your self-view. 

We noticed that some co-workers had notifications on during a Zoom call. This is of course fine, if you’re muted. However, if you’re an active participant, it might be audible for the rest of your colleagues and could get quite annoying. Make sure to turn off notifications. Here’s how:

Apple “Do not disturb”

  • On an Apple computer, click the settings icon and click “don’t disturb”.
  • You can select a period of time that the notifications are numbed.
  • Do you really want to hack this for a longer period of time? Select “preferences”.

Slack “Do not disturb”

Using Slack at work? It also has a neat don’t disturb function.

  • Select your profile at the top right corner.
  • Click ‘pause notifications’. You can choose a period of time.
  • Again, do you really want to hack? Go to settings > preferences > notifications to shut them up for good.

Windows Sleep mode

Is muting apps not enough for you? Mute your entire system!

  • Windows has a Sleep Mode, called Focus Assist.
  • Right-click on the notification icon the the taskbar.
  • Select Focus Assist and set it to ‘alarms only’.

Apple also allows you to turn the “Do not disturb” mode on indefinitely.

Last but not least, we advise you to take walks. The walk from your workstation to the coffee machine or water boiler is hardly enough for your daily workout. I know, I know, it’s not easy to drag your tired head out into the rain (we unfortunately still live in the Netherlands), but I promise: you will feel better.


How to follow your intuition as a freelancer

You probably hear it often: always trust your intuition. But what is intuition exactly, and how do you know to trust it?

Even though Stress Awareness Month is over, it doesn’t mean we should all forget about stress now. Let’s always be aware of stress. This blog might help you to stress less by following your intuition.

That’s right, intuition is something that we’re all supposed to feel naturally. Yet our head often takes over, making us doubt our intuition and making sure to make the ‘right decision’. But how can this decision be right, if you know deep down, in your gut, that something’s off?

Can we train ourselves to trust our intuition? How do we distinguish intuition from instinct?

Jos Pauwels, a Dutch writer, recently wrote a book about intuition. He states that you can train your intuition:

“Instinct is actually the basis. You can only speak of intuition when the intellect, instinct and heart start to work together. The first gut feeling is often a bit softer than the first instinct, you should see that more as a reflex. For example with fear.”

The connection between your gut feeling and the intellect is the key to strong intuition. Always listen to your gut feeling and then start to bring your brain in.

Always trust your gut. But how?

Jos makes a distinction between ‘dumb’ and ‘smart’ intuition. Dumb intuition is basically following your gut feeling without thinking. An example he uses is “love makes blind”; where we usually follow emotion and are incapable of thinking about it. To really follow intuition, you need to be conscious about it. You need a bit of inner peace: we need to train to let go of the unnecessary stimuli and focus on what’s truly important.

Easier said than done. How to put this into practice in your life as a freelancer? How would you decide when you need more time off, or how do you know if a client is a right fit for you?

Listen to that inner voice, rationalize it and take action.

Especially as a freelancer, you’ll find yourself in situations where you need to make lasting decisions. The only one you can build on, is you. Here are 5 tips on how to listen to your intuition.

  1. Trust your brain. If you feel something is inherently wrong, it might very well be the case. Try to listen to that feeling. Intuition is not random, but you might not see the pattern in the first place. Yet, your subconscious has taken in all the details, has been processing all your life and has sorted all the information you’ve ever had access to. Hence, your brain is able to distinguish a situation that’s off. Trust your brain.
  2. Try to strengthen your sense of intuition through journaling. I know, journaling takes time, it’s effort. But it can help you by writing down what you saw. When journaling you often see things you didn’t realize before.
  3. The next tip: take distance from your situation. Try to put distance between you and the problem. Journaling helps with this too, but if you’re really not into journaling, try to take a step back and view the situation with different eyes. What would you advise a friend in the same situation?
  4. Be open and honest with yourself. Easier said than done, but it will help tremendously. Don’t forget, we are our own biggest enemies. We can easily put our feelings aside, we can easily not listen to our gut. Try to ask yourself why you would not listen to your intuition, what are your main reasons to ignore your instincts. Try to meditate, to de-stress and to take a deep breath every now and then.
    Last but not least, have a little faith in yourself. You’re the only one who can make or break you, but have faith that you will find your way! If you do, it’s also easier to trust your intuition.

Of course, in most cases you will never know whether your intuition was right. Yet, if in the end you’re still happy, don’t feel stressed but very blessed: you did the right thing.


My onboarding in times of Corona

Even in times of Corona, aka during the quarantine/lockdown, people start with new jobs every day. But how exactly does that work, without an office to go to, without seeing colleagues face-to-face?

Here’s my experience of onboarding, and some essential tips to survive this period.

My first day at NGRANE in the COVID-19 lockdown

Exciting. I started my new job as content creative at NGRANE last month.
The entire interview process was through ZOOM, contract negotiations took place over the phone and the final “you’ve got the job”- conversation happened through ZOOM.

Before even having ‘met’ anyone from the company, I accepted the job.

For my first day, my new colleagues arranged a real life meeting at ZOKU with my two new bosses and their PA. After months of not going to an office, it was strange to get back into that rhythm of getting ready in the morning, having to bike to a place and meeting new people again.

I was welcomed wonderfully with a welcome basket and a hot cup of coffee. David and Stephen (the two NGRANE endbosses) explained a lot about the company, told me what I needed to know and gave a sneak peek into their passions and aspirations. We had cool talks about religion, sexuality, diversity and the future of the internet. It was really nice to see them in real life. However, we still live in COVID-19 times, so after lunch we all went home again to continue our day working remotely.

Although it was a bit silent after suddenly seeing so many people in one room (only three, but hey, it’s Corona, things are wildly out of perspective). Thankfully, I had an afternoon session with Daniëlle, the copywriter. She told me all about the projects, the clients and her ideas for future copy projects.

After this meeting, I found myself staring at an empty screen, not particularly sure what to do. How on earth would I become a master at my new job, without having a tactile experience?

How to excel in COVID times (6 tips how to master remote working)

The good thing about NGRANE, and this is also my first tip: they host daily standups. Everyone shares what they’re planning on doing that day. This is not only valuable for more efficient working, but it’s also a great way to welcome new people and to get involved with the team. So if your company isn’t doing this, propose it!

In this fast-paced world, we sometimes forget to be human. We forget the importance of human connection.

My second tip would be to plan carefully. Nothing is more annoying than sitting in front of your computer, not really knowing where to start. Perhaps a project manager can help you with that, or you can use planning tools such as Asana or Forecast. Make a clear to-do list, and make sure you feel the responsibility to finish your to-dos!

The third tip of the day is expectation management. Although I’m not a great player in this field, it’s wise to set some expectations with your manager. Make sure you’re on the same page to avoid any conflicts.

Tip four is again a trait that NGRANE has that I really appreciate: access to HubSpot. Because NGRANE walks the path of inbound marketing, HubSpot is a tool they use daily. HubSpot also has an academy, where you can learn everything about inbound marketing, but also about your own area of expertise.

My fifth tip: chatting. This might sound like a ‘duhhh’ tip, but in times of communication through screens, it’s not too natural to chat. If your company uses Slack, or any other chatting tool: USE IT. Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues anything, that’s how it would happen in an office. It might feel strange and a step too far, but it actually really isn’t that strange and it will help you a long way in getting to know your teammates!

Last but not least: make sure you don’t put too much pressure on yourself. As the philosophy of NGRANE states that we work better when we’re feeling good and able:

In this fast-paced world, we sometimes forget to be human. We forget the importance of human connection. No matter what the pace, no matter how big or small the screen, no matter the actual physical distance, we keep things human.


Wat jij en je team kunnen doen om teamproductiviteit te verhogen (ook remote)

Of het nu op kantoor is, of in deze tijden van remote working: we kunnen allemaal wel een boost in teamproductiviteit gebruiken. Het helpt je je doelen sneller te bereiken, minder tijd te verspillen om het werk gedaan te krijgen en problemen efficiënter op te lossen. Maar teamproductiviteit gaat over meer dan goed samenwerken. Het gaat om communicatie, voor elkaar zorgen en je unieke talenten kunnen ontwikkelen. Samen met Muriel Sival, collega en oprichter van SupergroverPA, delen we onze eigen tips en tricks met je die je helpen je persoonlijke productiviteit én die van je team te verbeteren.

Plan creatieve meetings in de ochtend

‘s Ochtends is je creatieve brein nog fris en heb je meer focus. Het werkt als het ‘Eat that Frog’-principe van Brian Tracey: start je dag met dat wat je het meeste energie kost. Hoewel Tracey focust op je dag beginnen met de minst leuke taken, werkt het ook zo voor taken en meetings die een beroep doen op je creativiteit. Natuurlijk zijn er mensen die ‘s avonds creatiever zijn, maar de meeste mensen hebben ‘s ochtends de meeste energie om na te denken of creatief te zijn.

Maak lijstjes

Zoals David Allen, schrijver van ‘Getting Things Done’ zegt: ‘Je hoofd is bedoeld voor het krijgen van ideeën, niet voor het vasthouden ervan.” Schrijf daarom al je taken en ideeën op, zodat ze niet in je hoofd blijven zitten. Door dit te doen zorg je voor meer controle en focus in je werk. Neem als team de tijd om na een lange meeting alle acties en zaken op te schrijven en hier duidelijke acties aan te koppelen. Zo weet iedereen na afloop wat hij of zij moet doen.

Maak afspraken en spreek verwachtingen uit

Als je input van één van je team members nodig hebt, zorg dan voor een duidelijke briefing. Spreek af wanneer je het design, wireframe, storyboard of blog nodig hebt en check wat haalbaar is voor de ander. Door dit samen af te stemmen en vast te leggen, kom je niet voor verrassingen te staan.

Plan routinetaken op momenten dat je lager in je energie zit

Werk taken uit met heldere doelen en processen, beantwoord je e-mails en doe ander werk waar je weinig over hoeft na te denken. Dit geldt ook voor team efforts. Wanneer je hoog in je energie zit kun je mooi een overview maken voor de taken die je kunt doen wanneer je op een laag energieniveau zit. Zo kun je er meteen mee aan de slag gaan wanneer je energie daalt.

Doe geen aannames

Een succesvol team communiceert met elkaar. Nu we meer remote werken, duidelijk communiceren belangrijker dan ooit. Vraag aan elkaar waar je mee bezig bent en check of je collega die ene briefing goed begrepen heeft. Anders blijft het een gok.

Geef elkaar open en eerlijke feedback

Door open te staan voor eerlijke feedback, bouw je vertrouwen op tussen je teamleden. Het creëert een veilige omgeving waarin niet alleen je team, maar ook projecten beter van worden. Belangrijk is dat je elkaar specifieke feedback geeft met concrete voorbeelden. Spreek hiervoor regels af, zoals drie tops en drie tips delen na afloop van een meeting.

Duurt het maximaal 5 minuten? Handel het meteen af!

Een reactie achterlaten op een mail? Toelichting vragen op een taak die je hebt gekregen? Als het maximaal 5 minuten duurt kun je het beter meteen afhandelen, ook als het een team effort betreft. In de ‘Getting Things Done’ methode van David Allen wordt duidelijk dat het beter is voor je productiviteit om taken van een paar minuten meteen af te handelen, omdat het meer tijd kost wanneer je er later (met elkaar) op terug moet komen. Het maakt jou en je team een stuk effectiever en scheelt nieuwe punten op je to-do lijst.

Coach elkaar

Als er tijdens een overleg een actie bij één van je teamleden wordt uitgezet, biedt dan als team aan dat als hij/zij er niet uitkomt, diegene altijd hulp kan vragen bij jou of een ander. Of jij nu de expertise hebt of niet, het draait erom dat je elkaar helpt waar nodig en dat een ander voelt dat hij vragen kan stellen. Het idee is: we got each other’s back.

Zorg dat iedereen zich kan ontwikkelen

Zorg dat je team de kans krijgt (individuele) talenten en vaardigheden te ontwikkelen. Denk aan training voor bepaalde tools, het beschikbaar stellen van een workshop of het lezen van een boek over effectieve communicatie. Door de kennis en vaardigheden van je teamleden aan te scherpen, wordt het team daar als geheel beter van.

Doe leuke dingen samen die niet werkgerelateerd zijn

Teamproductiviteit hangt in grote mate af van de connectie tussen je teamleden. Deel je als team een bepaalde passie? Maak er gebruik van! Doe samen iets leuks buiten werk om, zoals een (online) borrel, games of bezoek samen een (werkgerelateerd) event wanneer het weer kan.

Zorg voor elkaar en voor jezelf

Toon interesse, peil iemands behoefte en biedt hulp aan. Tune af en toe even in hoe het met iemand gaat op persoonlijk vlak. Dat kan met een pre- of after weekend talk: een fijne manier om de week met elkaar te starten en af te sluiten. Het belangrijkste is dat je er voor elkaar bent en de tijd neemt om te begrijpen wat iedereen gelukkig maakt, zodat iedereen het beste uit zichzelf kan halen op werk.

Meer uren in een dag nodig? Boek een afspraak met Muriel voor productiviteitstips en haar PA-diensten.

Muriel Sival: SupergroverPA is een supergeneralist. Veel internationale werkervaring in verschillende functies, met een nadruk op communicatie en klantgerichtheid. SupergroverPA houdt van service, fashion, kwaliteit en maatwerk. Zij houdt zich dagelijks bezig met het supporten van haar klanten op praktisch, mentaal en administratief gebied, zodat zij effectiever worden.



    Een goede website neerzetten: aan deze 19 dingen moet je voldoen

    Of je nu een nieuwe website maakt of je bestaande wilt verbeteren, er komt veel bij kijken een echt goede website te neer te zetten. Denk aan design, je brand story delen, het optimaliseren van je website voor meerdere apparaten en nog veel meer. Om je op weg te helpen, hebben we een lijst samengesteld met 19 dingen die je moet beoordelen als je wilt dat je website een succes wordt.

    1. Het begint met branding

    Brand guidelines hebben met een brand story, typografie, logo-set, kleurgebruik – en meer – is het beste arsenaal voor een webdesigner. Het biedt de juiste tools om je merk online vorm te geven en zorgt voor een samenhangend productontwerp en gebruikerservaring.

    2. Ken je doelgroep

    Om aan te sluiten bij je doelgroep, moet je weten welke problemen ze opgelost willen zien. Bied met je website een duidelijke oplossing met de juiste tone of voice en visuals.

    3. Bepaal je doelen

    Je website heeft doelen nodig om resultaten te behalen. Het design moet rond die doelen worden ontworpen. Neem de tijd om de doelen op te schrijven die je met je brand wilt bereiken. Op die manier wordt het makkelijker om je website zo in te richten dat je deze doelen bereikt.

    4. Je homepagina is een overzicht van alles wat je doet

    De belangrijkste pagina van je hele website. De homepagina wordt het meest bezocht en bezoekers beslissen in enkele seconden of jouw bedrijf de oplossing biedt voor hun probleem. Maak het duidelijk voor je bezoekers wat je doet voor wie en welk resultaat een samenwerking de klant oplevert.

    5. Begeleid bezoekers met Calls to Action

    Om je klant de juiste stappen te laten zetten op je website, moet je ze er doorheen leiden met de juiste Call To Actions. Buttons als ‘lees meer’, ‘schrijf je in’, ‘boek een gratis sessie’ en meer zorgen ervoor dat je klant precies welke actie je op iedere pagina kan ondernemen. 

    6. Kies voor professionele foto's

    Of je er nu voor kiest om een professionele fotograaf in te huren of stockfotografie te gebruiken, zorg ervoor dat ze professioneel zijn en passen bij het imago en de waarden van je merk. Sommige webdesignbureaus hebben een professionele fotograaf in huis of weten hoe ze stockfoto’s moeten selecteren die naadloos bij je bedrijfscultuur passen.

    7. Gebruik de juiste woorden

    De impact van je website zit in een goed verhaal. De juiste woorden kunnen de aandacht van je publiek trekken, je expertise weergeven en de informatie bieden die nodig is om een weloverwogen beslissing te nemen. Investeer tijd en energie om je verhaal onder woorden te brengen, zodat je je missie, visie en oplossing kunt overbrengen op je publiek.

    8. Zorg dat je website responsive is op alle devices

    Steeds meer bezoekers komen via een smartphone of tablet op je website terecht. Zorg ervoor dat je website volledig is geoptimaliseerd en gestroomlijnd voor alle soorten apparaten.

    9. Site snelheid

    Je wilt dat je website binnen 3 seconden laadt, om te voorkomen dat bezoekers ongeduldig worden en afhaken. Zorg ervoor dat afbeeldingen geoptimaliseerd zijn voor webgebruik, zodat ze niet teveel ruimte innemen en geen invloed hebben op de laadtijd en snelheid van je website.

    10. De kracht van video

    Een homepagevideo van 30 seconden kan je boodschap direct overbrengen en conversie creëren. Video’s prikkelen alle zintuigen en zijn de snelste en meest efficiënte manier om informatie te verwerken. Een goede video is bijna onmisbaar voor je website, omdat het mensen helpt je merk te leren kennen en belangrijke aankoopbeslissingen te nemen.

    11. Verhoog je vindbaarheid in zoekmachines

    Zorg dat je domeinnaam en site content de juiste trefwoorden bevat. Dit zijn de woorden waarop je wilt gevonden via zoekmachines. Wanneer je hier geen duidelijk beeld van hebt, kun je je laten adviseren door een SEO-expert, om je online vindbaarheid te vergroten. 

    12. Creëer ruimte

    Maak gebruik van lege ruimtes op je pagina’s. Design moet ademen, net als wanneer je een adempauze inlast tijdens het spreken. Dit creëert rust voor de lezer en brengt je boodschap beter naar voren.

    13. Maak het eenvoudig voor bezoekers om contact op te nemen

    Of het nu via e-mail, telefoon, een formulier of chatbot is (of allemaal), laat bezoekers van je website niet te lang zoeken naar manieren om met je bedrijf in contact te komen.

    14. Connect met social media

    Zorg voor goede connecties vanuit je website naar je social media kanalen en vice versa. Onderzoek vanuit welke social media kanalen je de meeste bezoekers naar je website haalt om het verkeer te optimaliseren.

    15. Zorg voor moeiteloze navigatie

    Breng de structuur van je website in kaart met een sitemap, zodat je precies hoe je pagina’s met elkaar gelinkt zijn. Met een duidelijk menu of een zoekbalk zorg je ervoor dat bezoekers makkelijk en snel kunnen navigeren. Een goed design speelt hierin een grote rol.

    16. Houd je website veilig

    Wanneer je site beveiligd is, geeft dat je bezoeker vertrouwen. Een beveiligde website herken je aan een URL die begint met ‘https://’ (de ‘s’ staat voor ‘secure’) en het slotje in de adresbalk.

    17. Klantreferenties zorgen voor geloofwaardigheid

    Testimonials en reviews zijn belangrijk voor merkervaring en geloofwaardigheid. Maak niet alleen de vijf-sterren reviews zichtbaar op je website, maar ook de minder enthousiaste. Eerlijkheid is essentieel en helpt bezoekers bij het nemen van een aankoopbesluit over je product of service.

    18. Maak je website AVG-proof

    Voldoe aan de AVG en informeer je bezoekers over hoe je met informatie omgaat en wat voor soort informatie je opslaat. Tools zoals Cookiebot kunnen je helpen scannen welke cookies je site gebruikt en waarvoor je toestemming kunt vragen aan je websitebezoekers.

    19. Kies het juiste CMS voor je team

    Er zijn veel verschillende Content Management Systemen, met ieder zijn eigen opzet. Kies het CMS dat past bij de behoeften en expertise van je team. Sommige systemen zijn erg technisch, dus als je team voornamelijk uit creatives bestaat, is het verstandig een systeem te kiezen waarin je gemakkelijk en zonder gedoe aanpassingen aan je website kunt maken.


    What an internship at Ngrane is really like

    I spent the whole summer doing an internship at Ngrane and… you guessed it! I had the time of my life! Some of you may think of an internship as routine work and making coffee. However, at Ngrane that was never the case. Even though sometimes Jeffrey (our Graphic Designer) made me make toast for him. That vegan toast turned out to be more addicting than caffeine, because of that everyone was getting more and more hooked on eating vegan food for lunch. This also resulted in me making more vegan toasts for Jeffrey. I didn’t mind it though; I would do it all over again!

    I got creative enlightenment

    Before I started my internship, I was supposed to finish up my UX certification course. It was so difficult that I couldn’t finish it in time. Little did I know that after only a few months everything I was struggling with would start to make so much sense! This was all because of the projects I got to work on at Ngrane and the way my colleagues contributed with their knowledge in brainstorm sessions and their feedback. They were basically my lab rats! All the help and insight I got helped me refine my skills and get more confident in myself and my abilities.

    I worked in the most inspiring environment

    First of all, I never thought I could love a city THIS much! Second of all, I have a new ‘all-time favorite’ workplace: The war room on the fifth floor! This was a very creative environment because I could create endless wireframes on every wall while me and David’s (our Creative Director) ideas were flowing. Besides Amsterdam and WeWork’s cool office spaces, Ngrane itself is an awesome place to work. I met so many amazing people; from the Ngrane community to the office neighbors, everybody has amazing energy and they stand out in whatever expertise they have. Because of this, I managed to set up an office helper on Alexa with Alexa Blueprint. It’s meant to answer all possible questions people that are new to the office may have such as what’s the Wi-Fi password, how they can print, etc. It was a nice way to get a first taste of VUI (voice user interface design). It was challenging as I had to figure out how to implement communicational design to make Alexa sound as human as possible. I added some jokes here and there to make it seem like Alexa was part of the team.

    I also created wireframes for the knowledge base based on the interviews I did with my colleagues. It’s meant to be something that makes their daily jobs easier, wherever they may be working from. It’s a place where they can find everything they need about the company, such as activity planning, brand guidelines, factsheets, repository files and much more.

    My bosses were cooler than yours

    Yep, you read that correctly; my bosses were really cool! Ngrane’s management team really sets the right values for its mission: to create the best workplace in the world. The first time I realized this was that one time we started the Friday Expo with power shots! I’m joking, it takes a little bit more than fancy drinks to convince me. Things that really made Ngrane special were the personal attention the management team had for each individual, the fact that they see creative expression as high job performance, the marble jar that serves as a symbol of how trust is growing within the company, the fact that they encourage a lot of professional and (even higher on their list) personal development and the list goes on. I could honestly write a three-page essay on this subject, but all I’ll say is that it takes a lot of love and dedication to create an environment where your employees and or team members can feel comfortable enough to be themselves and can achieve personal growth.

    I gained a whole new family

    Besides all the amazing things I already mentioned above, one of the most valuable things I gained was a new family. A family of extremely creative, kind-hearted and outstandingly intelligent people. At Ngrane, they will always make you feel at home.

    As you now know, I had a great time! My internship at Ngrane was a kick start to my career as a UX/UI designer, and I got to do this among amazing people while laughing every day. Naturally, my time there gained a very special place in my heart. No, I’m not crying, you’re crying! But there’s no reason to be sad as I’ll always be part of the Ngrane Community!


    OnBrand ’19: Uncover the future of branding

    OnBrand positions itself as the leading branding conference for marketing and creative professionals in Europe. As a group of digital creatives based in Amsterdam, we definitely couldn’t miss out on meeting like-minded professionals who also want to learn about the latest in branding.

    Every company wants to be unique. They want to stand out, make a change, be the lead competitor in their market and give their clients a brand that they can identify with. That’s why each year a lot of companies and individuals attend OnBrand. This way they can stay up to date with all the relevant topics and trends revolved around branding and be inspired by other creatives who are also passionate about their work.

    After a long day filled with inspiring talks, delicious food and lots of socialization, we got to think about our biggest takeaways from the event. Some of them were mind opening and helped us put our branding into perspective. We hope they can do the same for you.

    1

    “Volatility breeds short-term reaction and not long-term brand building.”

    Mike Flynn, Strategy Director Design Bridge

    With this quote, Design Bridge wanted to make clear that we’re living in the fast pace age. Our ecosystems are rising and categories are blurring. Knowledge is at the edge of our fingertips, everything we want to know is just one simple search away. Because of this, markets are becoming more competitive, making it harder for companies to create sustainable success in this environment. The reason for this is that we’re all so busy being focused on trends (that oftentimes only give us a few clicks and nothing more) that we lose sight of what is important, our brand. It’s a hard thing to do, especially when you want a quick return on your investment, but we have to focus on creating valuable and distinctive content that will still having meaning and relevance for our company and consumers for years to come. In our team, we make sure that all the content we create reflects our brand’s story and purpose; this way we know that we’re not just following trends (that may not even suit our brand) but creating valuable content.

    At the end of the day, interaction trumps. Consumers want an experience, not just a logo. So, create an idea that has higher meaning and never stop evolving your brand. This is what’s going to build your brand.

    2

    “We need to identify types of personalities and not personas.”

    Kristopher Smith, Managing Director AnalogFolk

    We’ve heard it all before. When selling a service or product it is recommended to make a persona out of the data you have acquired about your (potential) consumers. We admit it, we’re also guilty of doing this. The truth is that a persona has no actual understanding of an individual’s behavioral needs and problems. These are the needs and problems that can be solved with our products and/or services. These are the customer frictions that we can turn into opportunities for magic. That’s why we must find who needs us and not just who we are supposed to serve. What AnalogFolk means with this is that we need to analyze data and behavior to see who we actually need to focus on and what they want from us. We have to connect the dots between data signals and our business problem, and we have to understand our audience’s motivations and behaviors. We must use mindsets to position our creatives for success and we need to create ideas that serve our audience. In short, we have to connect, humanize and create. Personally, we couldn’t agree more. This talk opened up our perspective on traditional marketing, teaching us that we need to use data to challenge the status quo.

    3

    "You must confront the truth in order to affect the change."

    Amanda Fève, Chief Strategy Officer Anomaly

    While discussing lies brands (still) tell us alongside an all-female panel, Amanda Fève said that we must confront the truth in order to affect the change. These women intensely talked about how brands nowadays often still use a lot of stereotyping in advertisements because it’s what they have always done, and they are not fond of change. Change is way too much effort. Stereotypes are easy, people instantly get them, especially if it’s something they have seen multiple times before. But the world isn’t binary. We must always offer proper representation for everyone; this is especially important in the world we’re living in now. Working with a multicultural team with different backgrounds, Ngrane completely understands that each person is unique and doesn’t want to be categorized into a box. It’s important for each person to feel like they are being heard and properly represented. Oftentimes, in both advertisements and on the work floor, this still isn’t the case. It isn’t because we as companies are not aware of these stereotypical behaviors in our daily life, it’s because even when we are confronted with them, we don’t do anything. We must confront the truth, accept it and take actions to change things where change is overdue. Brands must stop being conventional and stop focusing on what used to be. Our world is continuously changing, and our brands need to be part of the change if we want to stay relevant. We must stop looking back, left and right and focus on going forward. We do want to point out that not all stereotypes are necessarily negative, the negativity often lies in how they are implemented. When using a certain stereotype in advertising we must always ask ourselves first if this is coming at somebody’s expense or perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

    4

    "To be part of culture, you need to be in conversation."

    Tim van der Wiel, Founder and Creative Director GoSpooky

    The life of a marketer has become a lot harder in the last few years. This is because there is an excessive amount of ways to advertise something nowadays. Marketers always strive to get as much exposure and actions from one advertisement as possible. The problem here is that sometimes we have little to no progress on the channels we’re already using. That’s why it’s important for companies to continuously analyze the market so that they can be the first to find the best upcoming place to get exposure and eventually their return on investment. Possibilities here are to try out different channels, switching up your content or simply just focusing on a different target group. As companies we must try to walk other avenues, we got to try something different and new. Who knows? This new path might just give us the publicity we need. All publicity is good publicity, it is exposure, a way for people to get to know us and talk about our brand. Any bit of exposure can have an impact on how people know and perceive your brand. Just like Tim van der Wiel stated: it starts with a conversation and before you know it, it becomes a brand that people identify with, it becomes part of their culture.

    5

     “We need to invest in cultural and emotional innovation like we invest in product and brand innovation.”

    Stephen Gates, Head Design Evangelist InVision

    Let’s start by saying that no team in the world is perfect. The same goes for companies. In fact, according to Stephen Gates, every company in the world is dysfunctional. Whoever you think is doing it right, whoever you want to work for that seems like they got it figured out, they don’t. The thing is either they hide it better than you do or they’re more transparent about their problems. Every company has problems. It’s how they deal with it, how transparent they are with it, that makes the difference. This means that even though no team is perfect, we still have to strive to get the best teamwork. This is because the experience you’re putting out reflects the way your internal teams are working together. Your work is your truth. Sometimes this is hard because every creative, every leader, feels like they’re doing/getting it wrong. The reality is that whenever you’re a creative you have things like your education, your childhood, your career and insecurities that make you different and unique. Society teaches us that we are not good enough when we are not like everybody else. This is ridiculous because the people who we admire and think are the best, they took that insecurity and made that difference their unique strength. As individuals in a team, we must bring these unique strengths together to create sustainable work that is up to standards and that will have value for years to come.


    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.


    Ngrane, Radicand Economics & e-Conomics partner to offer full-service digital platform solutions

    Ngrane is partnering up! We’re happy to announce a team of creators and thinkers who will provide you with full-service digital platform solutions.

    We’re always looking for new opportunities to grow as a business and community. So when we got together with Paul de Bijl (Radicand Economics) and Nicolai van Gorp (e-Conomics) to discuss a new partnership, we were more than just a little excited.

    Meet our new partners

    Paul de Bijl and Nicolai van Gorp are seasoned consultants with an expertise in the economics of competition and strategy. They have advised governments and businesses on how to respond to the changing competitive landscape resulting from digitalisation. They also provide executive training at Nyenrode Business University on digital business models and strategy. For a number of clients, Paul and Nicolai organised Digital Business Model workshops. These are one-day workshops to guide businesses in translating a first idea for a digital platform to a concrete and strategically sound business and revenue model. Recent clients include Heijmans, PharmAccess and Nyenrode Business University.

    The option to go full-service

    Our skills in the realisation of digital platforms now meet those of Paul and Nicolai in designing business models and strategies to fully utilize network effects and other unique features of digital platforms that determine success. This way, we are able to offer an integrated, full-service approach to platform design and realisation. We support the customer’s digital transformation by converting ideas into finding actionable insights to creating a business model and accompanying prototypes, digital products and solutions.

    Platforms, revolutionizing industries

    Today, every industry is or will be shaken up by digital platforms.

    The core function of a platform is to facilitate interactions among and between groups of users by means of an infrastructure and a set of rules. This principle can be applied in every industry to address a wide variety of market frictions. Once the number of users has passed a critical mass, network effects will drive the platform’s growth exponentially and completely change existing bargaining positions along the value chain. Many companies already have become dependent on platforms as a way to reach their customers, other companies have become entirely obsolete as platforms facilitate their suppliers to bypass them and interact directly with end-users. Labour markets are overturned, as well as finance, logistics, real estate, tourism, et cetera, and more will follow.

    It is not helpful to ask whether your company could be replaced by a platform or if it becomes too dependent on it. Think in terms of possibilities. Think especially about frictions in the market in which you are active that can be reduced. Can you come up with a platform to address a friction? Can this save costs for you? Can this save costs for others? If so, be the first to set up this platform so that you not only realise those cost savings for yourself but also benefit from the cost savings by others. A nice extra is that if your current business becomes obsolete in the future, it is probably because of your own platform and not that of another.

    How will it work

    Our alliance provides our customers with the possibility to go from idea to a business model, to a working prototype in a 1-2 week design sprint. After this, ideas can be tested to create a validated digital platform. The partnership will offer customers the ability to innovate fast and answer critical business questions early that result in saving time and costs and reducing risk.

    In addition to the Ngrane partnering and branding, Radicand Economics and e-Conomics will remain active in economic consulting under their own brand names.