Close attention and trust

In terms of our clients and our team, we’re picky about who we work with, because everything is built on ongoing, trusting relationships. This means our network of collaborators is as steeped in our values. Just as we keep our client mix small and dedicated, we work to ensure a stable team for you across all your projects.

No easy answers

We don’t point to a moodboard of existing trends and pick one for you. You’ll join us on a rigorous (but fun!) (and productive!) process to reframe the defaults, understand your brand and how it can connect with audiences while staying true to your unique vision, and remain attuned to your context, time, and place.

What to expect hero

The tools to be brave

By building a working system to express the true complex essence and dignity of your brand, you’ve got a starting point from which you can move authentically, not held back by the existing expectations of others.

Deep, pointed research

There are no short cuts to an authentic brand, but exploration is productive, targeted, and to the point. Trends don’t mean anything on their own. We step outside the immediate moment, with deep cultural and historical knowledge that helps you know yourself better in your contemporary context.

Beautiful execution, primed to evolve

All work is delivered on budget, on time, and without compromise on beauty. It’s ready to go in the real world it needs to exist in, for the teams and stakeholders that need to work with it, both now and as it must evolve in the future.

Fractional, adaptable design leadership

As working brand system meets the real world, we build, motivate, and mentor high level in-house design and brand teams with self-awareness, ensuring that the truth of the brand lives beyond its concept art.

Our process

Origins & destinations, based around
4 questions

What came before us?

Landscape and trend analysis
Design thinking & consulting

What matters about us?

Brand positioning
Brand strategy

How do we express our brand today?

Art and creative direction
Voice, tone and copywriting
Branding, visual identity and standards

How do we adapt, evolve,
and make it last?

Brand execution
Packaging and print design
Website design
Implementation planning
Brand training

Otherness is run by Joel Derksen

Otherness is run by Joel Derksen

Joel set out as a self-taught designer and freelancer in midwestern Canada, before studying formally in Halifax and Toronto. He began his career working with top agencies and clients across the country, including boutique design firm Oxygen and partners such as Toronto Botanical Garden, VQA (Wine Grower's Association Canada), and Acura.

Joel’s strategic and resourceful approach brought him to the attention of the legendary design firm IDEO, where he worked in the London and German offices helping clients such as Carlsberg and Salomon redefine themselves for their fast-moving markets.

After IDEO, Joel worked across Europe in firms such as HUGE and Landor, while nurturing his own clients from pre-conception through to launch.

He founded Otherness in Rotterdam in 2022 to offer his experience of practice and execution to start-ups, scale-ups, and established brands who aren’t like everyone else — those that can benefit from his systematic "no stones unturned" approach to problem solving, and his appreciation that complex situations bring forward unique perspectives.

His curiosity for design has driven him to travel globally, taking residences and summer classes in places such as Basel’s Höchschule für Gestalting, GMIT’s Design West, and University of Arts London. He has held solo & group shows in London, Rotterdam and Seoul focused on a mix of collage and site-specific works.

He is also co-founder of Nor, a digital, co-operative commons for Canadian design — a volunteer-driven project dedicated to discussing and critiquing the material culture of Canada.

Explore Further

Work we do