Design manager of the month - J.Margus Klaar

J.Margus Klaar is the founder and partner of the design agency Brand Manual and whose daily work is to strategically consult companies in the field of service design and branding. Since last year Klaar is the leader of Brand Manual Swedish agency. On the 12th of June Klaar spoke in the Design Management Institute Conference "Making Change by Design" in London.

What are you up to at the moment? 

I am living in Stockholm and building up the work of Brand Manual in Sweden. I make contacts, communicate with people, introduce the company to the costumers. The need to introduce myself from scratch is interesting and terrifying at the same time. The company has no reputation in Sweden and we have to prove that we are somebody and that we are able. It’s really tiring but gradually gives results. First client works are ready and there are more to come, so everything moves in the right direction. Secondly, we have finished the book about service design and found a publisher. The book comes out next year but we should get the copies of the book this year. The publisher wants to give out the series which means next year in May we have to write a new book. Seems that writing is becoming a full-time job. Thirdly there are still projects that bind me to Estonia so I fly at least once a month across the bay to meet the clients. In the long run I hope to travel a bit less. 

What are your five favourite design objects? Why? 

Volkswagen Beetle. Moleskine. Swiss pocket knife. iPhone. Pixar movies. Those things because I know what I can do with them and how to use them. Those movies because I understand them. 

What is the biggest problem design could solve? 

The biggest problem of design is that when you ask 10 people from different fields about the meaning of design then you get 10 different answers. So if we want to solve the problems with design we first have to solve the definition of design. And then it’s easier to talk to people at board level about problem solving with design. 

Which Estonian / other company you would like to work with? 

I would like to work with the car manufacturers. Customer experience is connected with so many details which, unfortunately, is often not taken into account and the whole customer journey from the choosing and ending with the resale is often a really bumpy road. Not to mention the data systems, involvement in people’s other devices and real-life (traffic jams etc) and the minor detail that in fact a car lives 90% of time in parking lots. 

Could Estonia become a design country? 

Sure. But it assumes that people take more and bigger risks. Things must be fully finished. This, however, will cost more than most businesses are willing to invest and it takes time that they are not ready to spend. Work must be made immediately to the international market. Estonia is not a suitable test-market and the consumer behavior is severely restrained with limited options and income that Estonian market dictates. If you want to export (even design) you must go to that place, spend a long time there and consider that the result comes strenuously.

MobileNOW! - digital parking service designed for the markets of USA
KAFO - Brand Manual helped a resale company to become a service provider that knows everything about excellent coffee.

SEB - Brand Manual designed a service for SEB bank that helps people to keep track of their money.

R-kiosk - Brand Manual helped a tobacco and ticket kiosk turn into a cozy corner shop selling good coffee and warm bites.

Designer of the Month, Service Design, Brand Manual