Velcro Industries Vice President Of Global Marketing Proves It Takes An Eye For Design To Create A Brand That Sticks
Get to Know: Jurjen Jacobs, Velcro Industries Vice President of Global Marketing & Innovation
Before serving as Velcro Industries vice president of global marketing and innovation, Jurjen Jacobs began his career at Ascom Corporate Industrial Design. As Ascom’s representative head of design, he managed a team of seven designers and won several international design awards.
Jacobs now drives all marketing strategy for Velcro Industries, but his eye for design continues to play an integral role as he leads marketing and branding efforts for the globally recognized brand.
Jacobs spearheaded the development of a new brand identity for all Velcro Industries’ visual elements, as well as its customer touch points, product architecture and new consumer product packaging.
He also led the development of newly re-designed work environments to reflect the brand’s new corporate identity, which resulted in Velcro Industries winning a Global Re-branding Award in 2013.
Prior to joining Velcro Industries, Jacobs served as marketing and innovation director for LINPAC Allibert, one of Europe’s leading packaging companies. He also worked as a brand manager for both the Bauknecht and Whirlpool brands in Europe, overseeing the development and deployment of the “For IKEA from Whirlpool” brand strategy.
Jacobs now leads a team of more than 40 marketers spread across Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Mexico, and the U.S. in both B2B and B2C markets.
A native of The Netherlands, Jacobs currently lives in Boston with his wife, who is from Greece, along with their three children – who were all born in Italy.
What mobile device can you not live without?
Smartphone and Moleskin notebook.
What social media network or website do you frequent most when you’re not working?
I mostly browse international newspapers to get different point of views on topics that are not covered in the local press.
What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?
My alarm clock, and then my agenda for the day.
Take me through your typical workday.
Wake-up at 5:37 a.m.; at 6:07, I sneak out of the house, and at 6:30 I arrive at our office in the financial district in Boston. This gives me usually an hour and a half to answer emails and pre-read materials for my upcoming meetings.
The hours between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. are usually covered by meetings: in the morning with our colleagues in Europe, in the afternoon, the focus on the U.S., and after hours is focused on China, Hong Kong and Australia.
I travel about 40% of my time, so there are no real “typical” working days.
What has been the most exciting work development during the past year?
To see how the strategic directions and brand positioning is embraced by our employees, and is ultimately reflected in our sales numbers!
What does your desk look like?
I have an award made from Velcro® branded materials given to me by my European team when I left for the U.S. One wall is “equipped” with IdeaPaint, and I keep the drawings and encouraging words written by my children on that wall.
From my office, I overlook Boston’s Financial District, catching a glimpse of the Charles River as well as the Citgo sign at Fenway Park.
How many miles have you traveled this year?
I travel on average around 150,000 miles per year.
My most memorable trip this year was to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where Velcro Industries partners with the Cambodian Children’s Fund. We provide food, school supplies, and housing for the ones who most need it, and we are financing the building of a school that will provide education and a future for over 2,000 children.
Meeting Scott Neeson, founder of the CCF and a modern-day Ghandi, was amazing and inspiring!
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
I seldom take my work – or stress – home.
Of course, you think about work, mainly realizing that we employ over 2,500 employees who all have to support their families. As an executive, you want to see that the strategic direction is the right one, and that the decisions you make contribute to company growth and more work opportunities.
Can you tell us about a campaign or work project you’d like to do over?
Those instances where you try to make a concession, either trusting the “experts,” agencies, or market research, ignoring your own gut feel which doesn’t feel good.
As soon as you end up with a product of which you think “not sure if I would show this at home” you know it’s wrong. There are some moments in my early career where I followed advice and the results still make me shiver.
Tell me about the people who have been most influential in your career.
The amazing fact of having worked for four different companies around the globe, meeting different cultures, ways of doing things, has been inspiring all the way. Those people who are honest, genuinely interested in the good of the company, and not chasing their own benefit have most shaped me.
What traits does a person need to succeed in your position?
Being open, curious, clear, creative and able to execute.
Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?
That I did play field hockey in Europe. And, yes, it is a sport for men as well; and, no, we were not wearing skirts.
Why did you go into marketing?
I started my career in design, and always thought that the folks in marketing had no idea what really drove customer behavior. What is it that makes our products desirable?
I wanted to experience the “other side.” I resigned as a designer, completed my MBA, and started in brand and innovation management.
I really enjoy being more involved in the company strategy. Having a technical background and the skills of a designer brings a unique and new view to marketing.
What other career would you like to try and why?
I would love to own a restaurant or B&B.
What’s the last business book you read?
Corporate Finance and Investment, one of my old MBA books. Utterly boring as finance really isn’t my field of interest, but much needed for the job. I need to keep it close to make sure I make the right decisions.
Outside of your company’s efforts, what ad campaign or video caught your eye recently?
My neighbor here in the U.S. has worked in advertising for the past 20 years and has always hoped one of his campaigns would go viral. It was not until last spring where he posted his kids’ trampoline on Craigslist that his work got picked up by over two-million views, and was reviewed at CNN.
He managed to combine excellent copywriting, humor, empathy, and to connect with his audience by holding a mirror to most people who have kids and a trampoline.