Philipp Hana discusses next-generation design and branding for businesses

marketing strategy
(© terrymorris –

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the next generation of new companies will handle crucial elements such as design and branding much more flexibly with agencies as they do today. Many also seem to be seeking complete independence. Philipp Hana, the founder of X10 design is at the forefront of what global start-ups deal with on a day to day basis. He answered a few questions on how entrepreneurs and business owners can approach the creative process right now.

As we enter Q2 in 2020, we are at a time of guaranteed protracted recession on a global scale. In terms of keeping a new business lean and competitive: how do businesses respond and what is your advice to them?

Philipp Hana: This is a good question, and I will look at new companies first: The temptation with new companies reacting to economic downturns is first, to cut costs and second, to be too certain that there is a huge market for their product or service. This misconception seems likely, given the rose-coloured glasses of many start-up founders. However, these are exactly the times that need to be used to push forward and outpace the competition. But: We know, it is difficult to combine good marketing and cost savings.

Large companies and established businesses tend to remain unaffected by such an economic situation, or at least that is what they believe. In these cases, we see a greater need for re-engagement and customer retention, followed by innovative diversification in their offerings. As a design and brand strategy consultancy, we use different ways to help both of these segments communicate their message effectively, in a way that stands out from the competition.

Are we in a time when a lot of new consultants are popping up?

Philipp Hana: Yes, we seem to be entering such a time, amongst other factors, because facing massive lay-offs that affect entire industries, there are many experts who lose jobs too – and they might start their own consulting businesses. The same holds true for non-consulting businesses. I am reminded of what we saw during the 2008 recession – we’re seeing that again now. There are massive shifts taking place in the job market. To me it is exciting because having years of experience in helping new businesses to grow rapidly, we can provide that missing component that they need during the early stages of their businesses. Remember that many consultants, other experts and innovators are great at doing their job – but owning a business or creating a new brand: well, it might be their first time, so we have to support them diligently.

How can a new business communicate a core vision, especially in troubled times?

Philipp Hana: Good question, it makes me smile since that is actually what our core vision revolves around. We want to enable founders to communicate their core vision. I concentrate on the founder of a company specifically since they usually understand this better than anyone: they know what the brand values are and should therefore be involved closely during the design phase, when their professional brand appearance gets created. My ethos is to make all the necessary tools and design guidelines available so that innovators can own the process themselves. This is saves money and time and also reduces a lot of frustration when a non-designer has to trust an agency. Agencies typically re-invent the wheel with unnecessary research and associated costs. Having faced some of those challenges myself, this inspired me to create X10.

Can you tell us more about X10?

Philipp Hana: It was created as an effective market solution to provide complete and easy guidance to improve design, so that non-designers can confidently express their concept. In an omnichannel environment with mobile phones and one-button instant image editing, it is more important than ever to deliver design that convinces, that can elicit emotion and be differentiated from the competition. Well, any good agency can achieve this, but at what cost? The idea behind X10 is to enable convincing results that don’t bear our signature, but the signature of the founder. Beyond my online material, I am of course also available for a more comprehensive 1:1 consulting service for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to refine their concept or get deeper into advanced design strategies using 3D, VR and other advanced design tools. At X10 we focus on how you can improve, rebuild or start your ideal brand and design and then take it to next level.

Can you share more about your guidebook on design fundamentals?

Philipp Hana: Sure. It is something that was developed to help non-professionals to quickly grasp the most important elements of design so that they can use their own inspiration and ideas to create exactly what they have in mind, in a way that potential customers perceive it well. You can think of it as simple steps to create a professional brand.

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