Today we’re celebrating one year since founding NEW STANDARD.STUDIO. We launched in the midst of the pandemic, which has definitely impacted how we run our business.
With our ambition and relentless focus on creating systems that make sustainable behavior the default, we’ve had a clear north star from the very start – a purpose that has made it easy to find “our” people despite constant reminders to keep physical distance from others.
In the past year, we’ve been connecting, challenging, and inspiring others. Our manifesto and studio standards have been acknowledged repeatedly, and we’re glad that, by being loud about how we think and feel, others feel encouraged to do so, too, and want to work with us given our positive approach and outlook on the future.
Within just a few months, we started working on a number of very diverse projects, from educating people about climate change and sustainable habits to enabling change-makers through communication and design to do their part in making sustainability the new normal.
There are people to whom sustainability is top of mind – and then there are those that don’t try to constantly optimize their surroundings for a more sustainable standard. That’s why we developed a fun and educational format to spark a conversation around sustainability at companies.
Usually invited by the HR manager or team lead, we get to run the teams through a sustainability quiz explaining why and how it might make sense to change certain habits. In the past year, companies like Flixbus, Patreon, Pitch, and Edenspiekerman booked the team quiz as a break-out session.
To make the information digestible, we also published an annual planner for office managers, having identified their role as the most impactful when it comes to making an office more sustainable. Furthermore, we’re currently working on a workbook that explains sustainability hacks in everyday life.
One of our habits is keeping an eye on public tenders. Earlier this year, we spotted one for sustainability communication support in our own district and decided to apply. The purpose of the project, Schön wie wir, is to educate people about producing less trash in their everyday lives and recycling whatever they produce properly. It’s a project that aims to motivate people to take active interest and action in their neighborhood and keep the district clean. Its multicultural approach felt especially attractive to us because part of the project is multilingual upskilling for all residents regardless of their cultural background. We knew we could learn a lot!
As part of this project, we launched a campaign to raise awareness of money wasted on illegally disposed bulk trash in the streets, which has been covered by most of Berlin’s news outlets. We also got the chance to create the concept and program for a large street festival focused on inclusion and sustainability that is happening in just a couple of days.
We firmly believe that if you want to create change you must do so in an attractive and – most of all – engaging way. Given sustainability is often associated with attainment, it’s especially important to us as a company to make sustainable alternatives as appealing as possible, and we’re glad we get to work on a mission like this on behalf of the local government.
When we first launched NEW STANDARD.S, one of our mantras was that we work with everyone but not on everything – in other words, we’re happy to share our knowledge and educate people about sustainability but we won’t provide them with design and communication services unless they share our values and are actively working on creating a more sustainable future.
As much as we love to co-create a brand strategy and branding, we are very selective about whom we work with.
It’s filling us with pride that the founders of Happa, a low-waste vegan lunch spot, have chosen us as their creative partner. And we’re also very proud to have created – or are currently in the process of creating – the branding for incredible clients such as Planetgroups, Green Recruiting, Camper’s Friend, and Karry Schwettmann, and we cannot wait for you to finally see some of the great things they’re working on.
You might have heard the saying that good design is invisible. If something works, we don’t think about it as something that’s been designed for that very purpose. Design that nudges a certain kind of behavior is something we think about a lot – and given we already spend so much of our time thinking about trash it’s also something that we want to approach systematically.
It’s a sad fact that the emissions leaking out of landfills are equal to the emissions caused by air traffic – even though they’re hardly ever talked about.
This is the reason we commissioned designer Tobias Jänecke from Circulate2Innovate to lead a project with the aim of creating a recycling system for offices.
Over many years, we’ve observed that it’s very often offices where teams don’t recycle properly – and we see the office as one of the few spaces where adults can influence and educate one another. We expect to be able to demonstrate the first results of our project, which is currently in the research phase, sometime mid 2022.
In the meantime, we also get involved in smaller projects and design challenges, one of them being the open brief to redesign the green dot, which is a symbol used in Germany that indicates that, by purchasing a product with the green dot, you’re paying for its disposal and that the company that produced the product has paid for the disposal, too. (In other words and when looking at it from the financial perspective, it’s also why it makes no sense to throw a product with that symbol into the landfill because then you just end up paying twice for the disposal of that packing. However, and to get back to the issue, at the moment, the green dot doesn’t mean much to the public – most people don’t really know what it stands for. Our head of design, Maximilian, thinks it’s a missed opportunity, which is why he designed a new symbol and combined it with a QR code that enforces more transparency about the entire lifecycle of the product and especially its packaging. The idea was so unique that @thebrandidentity account featured an interview with Max, and now we hope that one day we’ll see our design come into fruition.
However, it’s one thing to design something from scratch and a completely different thing to optimize a running system; process changes are – as you can imagine – hard. Two things are crucial in the process: A) a shared vision and mission and B) an inventory of emissions and clear reduction goals for the future.
With smaller, and especially family-run businesses, it makes most sense to focus on A, tweaking certain processes and only then working toward acquiring certifications that serve as proof of their sustainability. Hof Leutenecker is our favorite example where we’re in the process of establishing sustainability as the status quo.
With bigger, and especially industrial companies, it’s all about the numbers. The regulations and competition require these sorts of companies to first do a comprehensive inventory of all their data and a materiality analysis before collectively deciding what the goals and targets for the future should be. This is a process we’re currently undertaking for Montanwerke Brixlegg, a copper upcycling manufacturer from Austria.
Regardless of the size of the business, it’s clear that the future belongs to those who acknowledge that process change is the way to making companies fit for the future.
Last but not least, it’s important to consider that, in a systemic approach to creating not just people- but also planet-centric systems, politics and political action are some of the most defining and impactful levers. It’s why we designed the communication campaign for Klimaliste, Germany’s first political party that has an actual plan to reach the Paris target of 1,5°C. From clever slogans to guerilla marketing, one of the most successful campaigns was the Klimapaket – climate package – that our head of design Max turned into a parcel slip that was attached to people’s entrance doors or their post boxes. While it was designed in the Klimaliste CI, it looked just like what a delivery service would leave behind if you weren’t home. Eventually, someone who spent an hour looking for their neighbor’s package posted it on Reddit where it went viral within just a few hours.
This was the sort of reaction we were hoping for when we launched our petition to ban advertising for climate damaging products. While we reached more than 1.1K signatures, we were hoping to spark a much wider public discussion. In our opinion, it’s hypocritical to expect people to behave sustainably while teasing them with products that simply aren’t. It’s a matter that we haven’t let go of fully, yet one where we need a better strategy to eventually reach the sort of legal change in Germany that’s already been signed off on in cities such as Amsterdam. https://nos.nl/artikel/2379230-reclame-voor-goedkope-vlucht-mag-niet-meer-in-metro-amsterdam
Earlier this year we moved into our office, which enabled us to surround ourselves with likeminded people but also bring more people onboard to work with us. On one hand, we’ve been working with specialists to deliver results for our clients; on the other hand, we’ve been able to create internships and thus offer a sustainability-centric workspace.
We’re looking back on a year that has stretched us in various ways and given us opportunities to grow and learn. We’re looking back at a year marking the kickoff of making sustainability the new standard.
Most of all, we’re looking forward to having some of you as our future clients or – if you already are – having you as a longtime collaborator.
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