By David Bierman
Sunday eve, midnight. The area known as Silicon Valley, located in the US state of California, sleeps soundly as it prepares itself for another week of pushing the limits of digital innovation. Little does it know that at the same time, in the southern part of Amsterdam, its little cousin has already awoken.
Over here it’s Monday morning, nine o’clock. Employees of The Valley, affectionately called ‘Valleyrians’ by the owners, arrive by metro, car, motorcycle, bike or even foot and shake their phones at the entrance door. No, this is not an ancient ritual to honor the gods of creativity, but rather a modern way to enter a building using an app and an ID-code. For visitors, a bell-ringing system is in place. With a touch of her finger, office manager Isabel then opens the door and offers the guest a welcoming smile.
The magical environment
Say you are this visitor. To you, entering The Valley for the first time may feel a lot like entering the world of an interior decor magazine with the theme ‘nature’s beauty’. There’s lots of light, lots of space and lots of trees. Intelligent words like ‘openness’ or ‘accessibility’ would surely be printed in the magazine next to a picture of The Valley’s work floor.
To your left, a mighty wall rises on which metal cases display various kinds of bottled beers by Hertog Jan. These proudly represent one of The Valley’s biggest client successes so far. To your right, a number of different meeting rooms ‘meet’ your eye. They possess names like The Pitch (the largest design room), The Atelier (for creative sessions) and The Nature. With the latter one, the original idea was to put multiple beautiful plants there, but sadly only one of the ordered plants made it into the actual room. The rest of them were spread around the building, though, for everyone to enjoy.
On second glance, you can see the combined workspaces of Finance, HR and Service Management on the main floor, and a mix of Brand Strategy, Visual Design, User Experience Design and E-mail marketeers above them. There are barely any walls causing divisions between the teams. This is part of the feel that every modern creative company should aspire to exude: no complex organizational layers, no barriers and no reason not to talk to each other.
The Valley from bird’s-eye view
The people on the job
Here, people work not in suits, as is common with all the lawyer’s firms surrounding us, but in shirts. Their attitudes are generally friendly, relaxed and ready-to-help. Anyone who has a question or suggestion knows that they can just walk over to the person of their choosing and start a conversation. It’s safe to say that if you need a specific kind of knowledge, help is always quick to be offered and never far away.
Of knowledge there is, by the way, certainly no shortage. The professions The Valley has under its roof are many, which creates a wide spectrum of expertise. The Valley also actively looks to broaden this spectrum even more by hiring talents who come equipped with skills learned in different areas. The thought behind this is that the more points of view The Valley can combine, the better it can fulfill its promise of what we call ‘delivering the optimal Total Brand approach.’
The CEO, CXO and COO lead by example in creating the quintessential Valley-atmosphere: they walk and talk around like everyone else, regularly checking in on how employees are doing both at the job and at home. To compare The Valley to a true family is maybe a bit much, but the word ‘tribe’ might just be an accurate (agile) fit.
The magic of the people
It’s still Monday morning, now thirty minutes past nine. That means it’s time for the company-wide start-up at the bottom of the main staircase. Underneath the shining red Valley-logo, employees take a seat on or near the stairs and share important happenings of the coming week. Afterwards, they move to their respective workspaces, to their sprint rooms or to their project meetings. The underlaying goal for everyone this week, just as every week, is simple: deliver your individual piece of the Total Brand puzzle in the best possible way.
As a visitor, you’ve probably done what you came here to do and are just about ready to leave. Shame you can’t stay ‘til twelve, because that’s when lunch is served. Now, imagine you’d stay another day, or even until the end of the week. The projects you’d see unfold, the scrum teams you’d see sprinting, the tales about people’s lives you’d hear! Friday afternoon you’d like, surely. We won’t tell all, but it has a lot to do with our bar opening at one point and everyone having a well-deserved drink together after a long week.
Those hard-working Valleyrians are who truly define The Valley. Of course, quality of work and level of creativity also play a major role in our corporate identity. But in the end, it’s the way people click and work together that enables The Valley to say: ‘we’re different’. Philip, our CEO, has this to say: “We as an agency have to feel fresh. We as people must be warm, fast, open and show clients that ‘what you see is what you get, here’. As creatives, we have to keep reinventing and surprising ourselves.”
Working hard towards Total Brand
Seeing equals getting
Surprising ourselves, like Philip says, may be hard, but it is exactly what we try to do with our work, each and every week again. We need to keep being impressed by how we do things and approach the world, all the while not losing sight of the values we have built our own brand on. Quality of communication, innovation and professionalism coupled with a feel-good attitude is what The Valley is all about. That is what you see here, and so that is what you get.
Welcome to The Valley.