Bob Derksen: Design Everyday

Creative Partner of Today

by Elizabeth Lavis


04 Jan 2024

Gold Winner in Branding for Graphic Design 2023
“Strong brands are relevant, credible and distinctive to their target audience. We determine what the brand stands for”

The best piece of advice that Bob Derksen, self-described Hovering Art Director and Creative Partner of Today, is to design every day. “My advice for aspiring designers is to make sure they create a portfolio and present it to colleagues who can say something about it,” he says. “Develop yourself, and don’t be afraid to make ugly things. Doing this will make you better.”

On a personal professional front, Derksen tries to cultivate the positive to achieve legendary results. “I search for the positive angle which helps to create a beautiful full-blown concept,” he says.

Derksen hails from the Netherlands, and his point of global origin has undoubtedly shaped his design philosophy. “Dutch design is known worldwide for its progressive, conceptual designs with playful twists,” he says. “That has always inspired and motivated me.” Derksen’s path to design was straightforward, and his creative flame was lit in childhood. “I always wanted to be a designer,” he says. “I initially wanted to be a cartoonist because I drew a lot. Eventually, I came into contact with graphic design through art school.”

His design approach orbits around creating a “mind-blowing brand identity” and encompasses several steps to reach that aim. “We start with brand strategy,” Derksen says. “Strong brands are relevant, credible, and distinctive to their target audience. We determine what the brand stands for.” Derksen and his team then move on to the brand concept, honing in on the client’s identity and how the intended audience would ideally perceive it. “We translate this into clear, positive, and outspoken design for a complete brand identity and communication tools,” he says. Then, the team finalizes the process by implementing detail-rich resources that emphasize and reiterate brand identity and concept. “Establishing a recognizable brand and a clear overall experience requires consistent ton and design across all assets,” Derksen says.

"New generation of creatives", Today

The process can be lengthy, and the client is a regular part of honing the brand identity and concept. “It can take up to three to six months, including web development,” he says. “We involve the customer as much as possible in the process through strategy sessions, mood boards, kitchen reviews, and concept presentations.”

Derksen staves off pressure and keeps creative under stress by implementing a unique approach to design development. “First, create what the customer wants. It might be boring and predictable to what you have in mind as a creative, but that will give you peace,” he says. “Then, create something completely innovative and out of the box. Go from mild to wild.”

He also cautions about getting too caught up with harsh criticism. “Don’t take it personally,” Derksen says. He also emphasizes the importance of design skills and creative vision, especially when you have to have a difficult conversation with a client. “Always speak from your expertise.”

Ultimately, Derksen relishes what he does, explicitly seeing projects come to full fruition. “I love the energy released to bring something visual to life as an identity or campaign,” he says. His professional goals include creating beautiful things, learning AI, and developing his creative writing. Personally, he’d like to visit Paris more often. 

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