Be as you are

Brands need to be consistent and diverse all at once. And this requires a unique identity that makes sense across both borders and platforms.

In tough times like these, Amsterdam thrives. A city raised on adversity, we were doggedly stubborn from inception. We fought the North Sea to reclaim our land, inch by inch, and constantly invented new technology to keep our heads above water. We were also among the first to go global, sailing bravely off to trade with exotic lands - a great history from which to draw.

BSUR stands apart from the many agencies in Amsterdam by proudly proclaiming itself "Dutch international". We've been questioned on that point many times. Why, when you work on international business, would you not simply call yourself an international agency? Well, to us, being a Dutch international means we work on a global scale using our Dutch sensibilities. It's in our Dutch DNA to adapt to the changing world and its many cultures.

Led by myself and Joost Perik since 1995, and bolstered by a mix of international talent from Europe, the US, Australia and beyond, BSUR offers a unique micro-network model for its clients. Rather than following the path of the larger networks, staffing multiple offices in markets around the world, BSUR has talent from around the world, making the agency more streamlined and efficient for international clients such as Mini, Libresse and Specsavers. As part of thenetworkone, BSUR also has broad and deep global resources on call.

Being Amsterdam-based also gives BSUR an enviable foothold in one of the world's most exciting and liberal creative hubs. The talent that has travelled to work with us shares our passion for authenticity, freedom and creativity. In addition, to keep abreast of the booming Asian market, BSUR recently opened a Shanghai office, strengthening both our global perspective and our creative offering.

Our core strength at BSUR is not just finding an insight, a tagline or a campaign idea, but unearthing a unique mentality for a brand. Our goal is to make each brand the most consistent and inspiring version of itself. To achieve this, we work closely with our clients to either distill or redefine each brand's true mentality.

Brand consistency is more important than ever before. By creating a solid global platform based on that mentality, a brand can offer different products or services to consumers across multiple media channels, languages and cultures.

One such example is the Britvic-owned brand Robinsons Fruit Shoot. Already big in the UK, the brand was to be rolled out across Europe. No matter how multicultural London is, its ad agencies are still very British in their communications. (Indeed, Bacardi International's John Burke once noted that BSUR was more international than any London agency he knew.) Hence why Britvic looked for a Continental partner that could communicate across many markets.

For Fruit Shoot, we created the platform "go explore", which championed kids going outside and discovering the world. This mentality guided its TV commercials, online activity and in-store activation across several campaign bursts, making Fruit Shoot synonymous with curiosity and adventure. The brand has won a massive growth in market share in the Netherlands since 2007, and won an Effie for effectiveness. Most importantly, the campaign's success saw it roll out in Scandinavia, Australia and the US.

Change is something the Dutch naturally adapt to and, more often, instigate - great skills to have when the future of our business is about managing brand consistency and diversity at the same time. Advertising is no longer just one broadcast message. It is now also our task to open up brands and engage people with consistent mentality across diverse platforms, something we recently did for Mini with "all the wrong places".

Together with VICE, we created a social media campaign that put Mini fans in front of the camera for the very first time. We took the Mini Coupe and Roadster, a host and five "co-pilots" - recruited via Facebook - on missions across the globe. Together they generated unique content, achieving more than three million views and shares. It proved that by having a consistent "Mini adventure" mentality, we could weave the campaign seamlessly through diverse platforms to engage millions of fans across the globe.

Unlike US or UK agencies, in Amsterdam we do not immediately assume our consumers will speak English. We ensure every campaign has a clear brand platform and, just as importantly, a visual language that can transcend borders and languages. Visual brand recognition goes hand in hand with brand consistency. At BSUR, we call this design discipline "brand iconics", and we develop distinctive brand design and identities for our clients. An example of this is the international communication platform of Bodyform in Europe.

We knew the advertising restrictions on feminine hygiene products varied wildly between markets. Our challenge was to create a mentality and visual language that worked effectively across all of them. We developed "we know the feeling" as the global brand mentality and created a suite of distinctive visual brand cues, which we used to craft our communications according to each market's sensitivities. A consistent visual language helped Bodyform successfully transcend all language barriers and cultural restrictions.

It's interesting to look at our portfolio of work. You will never look at any of our ads and know they come from BSUR. We prefer to be the ghostwriters of our clients' success. This lack of ego is a very Dutch trait. We don't force our clients into a house look; instead, we create a unique visual identity for every brand.

So, when times are tough, we thrive in Amsterdam because it's in our Dutch nature to be smaller, smarter and more ingenious. We are cultural explorers, globally aware. We are innovators, good-natured, open and straight to the point.

At BSUR, we believe there is nothing better we can offer our international clients than to be ourselves.

Beyond our name, BSUR - be as you are - is our philosophy. We're here to help clients be exactly as they are, which we believe is the most powerful and original thing any brand can do.


Old master or HTML5? Old master.

Creativity thrives in Amsterdam because ... freedom here is close to mild anarchy, and that is when creative minds, of every kind, produce their most original and authentic stuff.

I know I'm not in London when ... my plane arrives on schedule.

I still haven't ... visited the Rembrandt House, and I've worked here since 1984.

When in Amsterdam, don't expect ... taxis to stop when you wave at them.

When in Amsterdam, don't say ... "Romney should win the US election."

We Dutch are ... more sensitive to the cultural differences on the Continent than the British.

Cheese or moules-frites? Both please.

Jan Rijkenberg is the co-founder and chief executive of BSUR Group

Sponsored by BSUR Group.


You have

[DAYS_LEFT] Days left

of your free trial

Subscribe now


Our new premium service offering bespoke monitoring reports for your company.

Find out more

Become a member of Campaign

Get the latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now