Bob van der Lee

Total Skills Network, Partner in Europe

Bob van der Lee started his education in architecture but found his true destiny in his Communications study in Amsterdam. After his study he started in direct marketing at Wunderman Cato Johnson and was Account Director in advertising at Y&R. Took on the assignment of the development of an interactive unit for Y&R (1996) and worked several years throughout Europe as a Business Development Director for Y&R Europe on Interactive design and e-marketing.

At the age of 32 he became Managing Director for VBAT, an international renowned corporate identity, brand- & retail design agency. He managed the international clients and the integration within the WPP network. As CEO in the WPP network he learned over the years that the starting point of true successful branding and design lays in the identity and culture of an organization, city or region.

For eight years he was Managing Partner and CEO of Total Identity Group (Netherlands) – TOP 10 international branding agencies. Bob is now focusing on strategic positioning, brand architecture and integrated design concepts for on-and offline.

Working for national and international A-brands over the years:
National a.o; Heineken, Lays, Interpolis, NS, Prorail, ING, KPN, Essent, Oce, KLM, Ordina, Royal Ahrend International a.o; LG, Royal Ahold, Vaillant, Powel, Royal Flora Holland, Ahrend, Brandweer Nederlands.




·        Corporate identity

·        Brand strategy

·        Brand design

·        Interactive design

·        Online marketing


Brandson (TSN): What projects are you proud of? And why?

Bob: Wow this is a tough one to answer. After being almost 30 years in the business I’ve done so many nice projects. And each project has a different reason why it’s so nice; the client, the people, the creative result, the business upside… I will try to name my top 3:

Amels superyachts – Specifically proud of this case as it is of course the ultimate high-end luxury branding case. Branding, marketing and selling yachts of 60 meter+ for a very specific and demanding audience requires exceptional creative skills and refined solutions in how to position the brand and their end product. The case was interesting as we were able to develop everything from strategy, visual identity, websites, product launches and brochures all the way up to merchandise for the Monaco Boat show. A magnificent journey!


Aldiana Club resorts case is quite interesting as I really like the travel and leisure business a lot. The branding is not just visual or marketing driven but there is also the component of the customer experience. Redesigning the whole identity and customer journey and experience is a dream job. It went all the way from first online orientation and booking to F&B food concepts and guest activities. We gave each of the 10 different all-inclusive clubs their own visual signature and personal flavor and still kept it the family feeling and unified brand experience. Aldiana is now owned by DER touristic from Rewe group.

Last but certainly not least is Dutch Greenhouse Delta. Specifically, because it’s a cause that matters; solutions for growth in how to feed the world population. As we know in the future 80% of the global population will live in urbanized area’s we need to rethink growing techniques, logistics and food chains. These solutions for growth are shaped to perfection by the Dutch. With our little country we are the #2 food exporter in the world (after the USA) on such a tiny surface! It was therefore interesting to see how we could combine all this knowledge, innovation and know, how and craft it into an export product on an international scale.

Brandson (TSN): What are the advantages and challenges in transnational team work on brands?

Bob: That’s quite an easy question to answer; the advantage is having multiple insights from many different anglepoints and cultures. I’ve always worked in cross disciplinary and cross country teams and the result is always better as having a locals only approach which often leads to tunnel vision. The biggest challenges however is always culture. I’ve worked on projects in Seoul but also in India and you can not compare the two in any way. Totally different approach, client involvement, planning issues, you name it … there is no one size fits all. Also, the understanding and appreciation for the creative work and process is often misunderstood.

 Brandson (TSN): What languages do you speak? How do you explore the markets and mentalities while you work out of Europe projects?

 Bob: Haha, not that many, only Dutch, English, German and a little French. I think the advantage we have as a small country with a very open economy for centuries we have an open mind and always look abroad with an external view. I miss this sometimes in the rest of Europe where the English speak about ‘The continent’ where Sweden is quite different than Italy! Also, within the different countries there is sometimes a narrow national focus, also in speaking languages. Of course, this is totally different in the bigger corporates.

 Brandson (TSN): You have an architectural background. And you work a lot with retail. How does your knowledge of architecture help you to evaluate the team work?

 Bob: Yes, my grandfather was the landscape architect, my father was an urban planning architect and my sister is an architect so I also started as it goes in architecture but ended up in branding and marketing. Still I think there is a lot of resemblance between the two; you first need a blueprint and make an artist impression of what it could become. You start with a vision, a solid foundation and in building it the devil is in the detail; what kind of shapes, materials and user requirements are there. Etc. building a brand is no different so in fact I’m still a Brand Architect.

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