Teutonic lights


  • März 2013 (Ausgabe 61)


  • Guido Castagnoli
  • Albrecht Fuchs
  • Thomas Dashuber
  • Michael Englert


The Entrepreneur

Thomas Andrae

Thomas Andrae co-runs one of Berlin’s most prestigious art galleries (Andrae Kaufmann), searches the world for tech start-ups for his investment company and collects furniture-design classics. How do these fields of interest come together? “The combined metrics are about quality and thoughtfully building a brand that differentiates,” Andrae says. “It’s about sustainable business and uniqueness; it’s about the few vital pieces that you want to own.”

His current fascination is e-commerce platforms. Not another Amazon or eBay, but the new generation of “smart combinations of content-rich environments. I search for ideas that differentiate through sophisticated content and smooth customer interaction.”

Andrae looks into the implications of e-commerce for high-end furniture. “The question is how to generate subtle, non-intrusive interest in those pieces, be they vintage or new. Smart, independent media sites such as that provide premium content have, in a way, been curated by the trustees of independent networks.” Andrae believes that the standard 800 m sq furniture showroom will soon be marginalised, with only carefully curated multi-brand environments surviving.

On his travels he has learned that people want to understand the phenomenon of the German “Mittelstand”: “Independent, family owned businesses that generate billions in revenue annually. In an ever-changing world, Germany appears to be able to focus.”

What is the modern German brand?

“A combination of intellect, a precisely formulated development process, highly sophisticated engineering and efficiency resulting in sustainable quality.”


The TV Presenter

Mitri Sirin

The host of Morgenmagazin, the daily morning show that airs on public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, Mitri Sirin has emerged as a rising star of German television.

Sirin, who is of Turkish-Syrian descent, initially experienced his not-so-German looks and name as a hindrance. “Early on in my career the blond and blue-eyed types were definitely highly coveted as anchors. But when society became more cosmopolitan the opposite thing happened: I think being who I am has definitely helped me to advance my career.”

Still, he says, Germany has a long way to go before international faces on television are commonplace. “I often have to answer questions about my ethnicity.When you watch the BBC or CNN that’s obviously not a topic at all.”

The country’s television news has improved dramatically in recent years, he argues. “It has finally become very good in all formats that deal with information.” But Sirin is less confident about entertainment: “Germany is miles away from the level of quality of US productions,” he says.

His experience of his own show is a mix of the positive and the negative. On the one hand, it is politicians and businessmen who provide the biggest audience for German morning television’s mainstream mix of hard and soft news – a factor which makes Sirin an influential figure. On the other hand, he admits, he can’t expect to reach the younger audience that he knows won’t tune in at 6am. “They would rather find programmes that are available online to stream whenever they feel like it,” he says.

What is the modern German brand?

“A mix of Berlin and Bavaria; the modern and the traditional.”


The Brand Pioneer

Caroline Seifert

Two decades ago Deutsche Telekom was a state-owned monopoly on the brink of privatisation. Few people used mobile phones or the internet. It’s business was landline telephones, phone books and public phone boxes. And that was all.

How things change. In 2011 Deutsche Telekom boasted €58.7bn in revenue and today has 230,000 employees and 160 million customers in more than 50 countries. It is transforming itself from network operator to service company.

“It’s the shift from selling technology to using innovation for customer needs”, says Caroline Seifert, Senior Vice President for Product Design, who formed the Telekom Design department in 2008 to shape customer experience of the brand.

Seifert believes that people’s needs have changed little: “We want to feel close to each other. We need communication, entertainment, to talk to loved ones, write to them. We listen to music, look at pictures. We play, work, stay healthy, learn.”

Design, she explains, is now key in differentiating a company’s products from those of competitors: “When all information is available everywhere, experience is the driver for success. The best way to achieve this is with services that are always there yet almost invisible.”

What is the modern German brand?

“Made in Germany stands for trust, quality, engineering and value. We see ourselves in this tradition.”


The Newspaper Editor

Gabor Steingart

Take a flight in Germany and most of those sitting at the front of the plane will be reading Handelsblatt, the country’s leading business daily recently revitalised by publisher and Der Spiegel veteran Gabor Steingart.

When Steingart was named Germany’s Media Person of theYear in 2012 he was praised for turning the once-staid paper into an “unpredictable medium”. Circulation has risen on opinion and strong reporting.

Germans still love print but Steingart insists this is about a culture of reading. He believes the share of print will decline and has overhauled Handelsblatt and its sister magazine >i>Wirtschaftswoche’s digital presence.

Steingart’s recipe for future success? “News is everywhere. What people long for is analysis, opinion, and exclusive reporting; they want a shower of inspiration.”

What is the modern German brand?

“Germany is shaped by two forces: we are inventors, and we have a social orientation. Our founding fathers, if you like, are Werner Siemens and Robert Bosch on the one hand and Ludwig Erhard on the other.”