‘Our office has changed so much that our position no longer reflects who we are.’
‘It’s now time to consider succession planning.’
‘Our website has to be updated.’
‘We need a stronger story to acquire the type of projects we want.’
‘How can we prepare our office for the needs of tomorrow?’
‘What does social relevance mean for our office?’
‘How can we distinguish between hype and new reality?’
‘How can we create focus and establish priorities with a view to the future?’
A new reality
A lot has changed in recent years for architecture offices. The crisis and upheavals within the sector have created new dynamics and relationships. Many offices have downsized, adapted their way of working, or set off in new directions. Now that the market is picking up, things are moving so fast that offices need to readjust again. We often hear that change is the only constant. We speak of a new reality, a reality that demands a clear position by architecture offices.
‘You often notice that the experience of a client does not dovetail with the way architecture offices operate.’
Professional clients now emphasize issues such as trust, service, co-creation and flexibility. Even so, many architecture offices do not respond. Instead of expressing their view on such themes, they essentially continue to communicate through current and past projects. As a result, offices appear to be all of a kind, interchangeable. Offices fail to grasp opportunities. The new market calls for architecture offices to formulate answers to and visions of the challenges facing society today. A clear position offers a firm footing and provides direction. Maaak helps offices respond to such issues.
Maaak supports architecture offices in finding their position and embedding it within their organization. On the basis of a love of the profession, but mostly to help offices achieve greater success. The projects we carry out for our clients illustrate that. And it’s something we’re proud of.
We know the market and we know the business world. We spot not only opportunities, but also obstacles. We’ve worked for various offices for many years. We understand how architects think and work. That’s how we help offices grow, and help bigger offices to stay on track. That’s what we’re good at.
Strategy (identity and positioning), process management
Strategy (identity and positioning), coach
The vision of Maaak
Society is changing rapidly. Developments such as urbanization, sustainability, mobility and digitalization pose exciting challenges for society. We believe that architects can play a crucial role in finding appropriate and contemporary solutions. The market offers wonderful opportunities for architecture offices. However, we see that many offices are incapable of grasping those opportunities. Too often, supply and demand do not fit together.
Maaak sees that successful architecture offices correctly sense – and respond to – what today’s market and society want. Market insight, entrepreneurship, knowing what and who you are as an office (and hence, what you are not) and ensuring that ‘inside and outside’ are always attuned to each other; that’s what Maaak focuses on when considering the positioning of architecture offices.
Finding your position means finding answers to important questions:
- What is our story? Where do we make a difference? How do we show that on our website? In our marketing? During acquisition procedures?
- What is the reason for our office’s existence? What are our strengths?
- Why should clients choose us?
- What are the most important market developments for us?
- What do our clients consider important in their relationship with an architecture office?
- How do we ensure continuity?
- What type of employees do we need to grow?
- What can we do ourselves? And what should we outsource?
- What sort of tenders do we compete for?
Answering questions like these is vital in defining your position.
Distinctive ability, credibility and relevance
Positioning is about linking unique internal qualities (supply) with the external needs (demand) of clients in the market.
At heart, each office has a unique identity that is shaped by a combination of history, people, competences, services and products. To emphasize your distinctive strength – so that stakeholders are better able to distinguish your office from the competition – it is vital to define your identity more precisely. This often calls for making fundamental choices in the area of strategy, portfolio, communication and behaviour.
Positioning is therefore a matter of making choices. But you cannot ‘choose’ any position. To be credible, a good positioning must always remain close to the identity and culture of an office. Simply because target groups know exactly how to see through a position that lacks credibility.
Besides credibility, a hallmark of strong positioning is relevance, in the sense of having a point of view on and answers to questions from the market and society. If the positioning of an office does not reflect the needs of clients or other stakeholders, it is of no value.
A position that can endure, therefore, makes explicitly clear how the office responds to tomorrow’s market. Only when an office is relevant and credible in a distinctive manner will it be capable of growing.
Business, organizational development and culture
For Maaak, positioning means more than thinking up and communicating publicity. In essence, it covers three focus areas: business, organization development and culture. Only if cohesion and consistency are achieved between these focus areas can positioning rise above the level of publicity. To find this cohesion, we look outwards from the organizational perspective (inside out), and inwards at the organization from a market perspective (outside in). Only then can a relevant position be determined.
How we work
An appropriate answer to every question. Simple as that.
Our approach is based on intensive collaboration between office management and Maaak. Together with the management, we deploy analytical thinking and working to get to the heart of the matter. The conversations and working sessions are marked by a high degree of openness and mutual trust.
Our phased approach starts by identifying the desired identity and the actual identity on the basis of research and working sessions with management and employees.
We then study the office image by looking at how stakeholders perceive it. We do this by interviewing a representative sample of stakeholders. The aim of these sessions is manifold: collect information, generate commitment and share the ambition of the office.
After the research phase, we gather all insights and work in dialogue with the management to elaborate a number of positioning scenarios. In this way, we arrive at a choice for the office position and describe it in a corporate story. Together with the principles established for the positioning, we record everything in a brand report in which we describe the brand on the basis of its vision, mission, target group needs, position and values.
The brand passport offers the management a solid basis for making decisions, establishing priorities and steering the office. If desired, Maaak can also help to anchor the position within the organization and activate it (publications, website, social media, etc.).
Comments about Maaak
‘The desire for a new website marked the start of a quest to find the true identity of our office.’
‘They know exactly how to pinpoint obstacles, so that you as management can grow.’
‘It’s a huge relief that the continuity of the office has been secured.’
‘As directors, you often know that things could be better within the office. But that’s exactly why it’s so fine if an external party makes this so explicit and comes up with scenarios for solutions.’
‘The journey undertaken with Maaak has made us much more confident, enabling us to move in the right direction now.’
‘The wise saying that it’s about the journey and not the destination can certainly be applied to this positioning procedure. Extremely illuminating.’