Each month we introduce you to one of our partner agencies in Partner in the Spotlight. Giving you a look behind the scenes. Sharing some Dutch digital design insights. Or telling you about something that they believe the world needs to know. This month it’s Momkai’s turn - a strategic design studio based in Amsterdam and Berlin. We talk with Brenna Foster - their strategy director who is located in Berlin. How their 20th anniversary brought about the launch of Memberful Design as a gift to the creative community.
Momkai & Brenna
Going back just over twenty years, Momkai was founded by Harald Dunnink - creative director - and Sebastian Kersten - now advisory board member - in November 2002. Their goal: to create a place where like-minded creatives could create lasting initiatives. Initiatives that would serve a purpose and generate impactful experiences. Their ethos and design philosophy: longevity.
Fast forward 20 years: they are now not only the proud owners of Momkai, but also initiators of plenty more impactful initiatives that are focused around that exact same ethos, including De Correspondent - an online innovative and ad-free journalism platform, and more recently - as part of their 20th anniversary celebrations - Memberful Design. More about this later.
Brenna joined Momkai in April last year as a strategy director, and was no stranger to the agency. She already collaborated with them whilst working in NYC at Blue State - a progressive New York-based agency that teamed up with Momkai to raise funds for The Correspondent - the international edition of De Correspondent. She also worked on developing digital strategies for organisations like the Obama Foundation and Unicef.
In 2020 Brenna moved to Berlin looking for a better work-life balance. Initially she worked for the climate start-up KLIMA - a carbon offsetting mobile app - when she was approached by Momkai to help set up their Berlin office and look after their German- and European-based clients. Brenna, Harald and their Momkai colleagues were also on a quest as to how to connect people in a more meaningful and sustainable way: introducing Memberful Design.
Introducing Memberful Design
‘Memberful Design shares insights in order to help design and build communities, and create a sense of belonging. The platform shares the experiences of leading design practitioners - using podcasts, toolkits and essays. Our goal is to uncover strategies that help create initiatives with a lasting impact.’
Memberful Design is the evolution of Verwondering, an award-winning design podcast in the Netherlands - also created by Momkai. Momkai would now like to bring this series to the global stage, in English - for a broader reach. Every episode explores how to create meaningful connections and grow active communities. From start-ups looking to grow their membership programmes to NGOs igniting social movements.
‘Our first guests were Priscilla Chomba-Kinywa - global CTO of Greenpeace, Eddie Opara - Partner at Pentagram in New York, and Avery Trufelman of 99% Invisible and Articles of Interest. These were amazingly inspiring people.’
Why do we need Memberful Design?
‘Today’s issues can’t be solved by individuals alone. They’re universal, and require collective action. That means creating a sense of community and identifying a shared purpose for groups to rally around.
The practice of Memberful Design helps organisations and initiatives everywhere to do just that. It’s about exploring and listening to what others need, creating a dialogue, and then sharing insights and tips to address those needs. Ultimately, it’s about building communities with a shared purpose that stand the test of time.’
What’s in a name?
A memberful experience or, in other words, a meaningful member experience.
‘We learned from a previous collaboration with New York University and Professor Jay Rosen’s Membership Puzzle Project that memberful initiatives lead to the richest and most meaningful user experiences. Experiences where members are at the centre — where we’ve intentionally created spaces that answer their needs. It’s essential, in short, that we’re memberful. That’s how we arrived at Memberful Design.’
Successful membership organisations are empathetic and open to learning about what their members actually want. They connect individuals’ passions to a shared larger purpose, getting the ratio right between the person and the group.
Quote by Emily Goligoski - former research director at the Membership Puzzle Project, and senior director for audience research at The Atlantic
The future of Memberful Design
‘This is something we truly believe in and want to see grow. Currently we have a small editorial team as the project is self-funded. However, our plans are BIG. We hope to become the go-to source for inspiration, insights and tips for building memberful experiences and communities around the world. That means that great, inspiring guests and content are key. We have an amazing lineup coming up and are always on the lookout for the next guest we can learn from.
This way we hope to grow our Memberful Design community organically, and help build memberful movements everywhere — around brands, organisations and meaningful causes. We passionately believe that this will create loyalty, and spark positive impact around the world.’
Dutch Digital Design: a memberful community
‘As a partner agency and founding member of Dutch Digital Design, we truly believe in the vision behind this community of leading agencies working together. To strengthen their network, exchange knowledge, inspire each other and put the best Dutch digital work on the map. Dutch Digital Design is a great example of a memberful community - working together for a great cause: building recognition of amazing digital work and inspiring others.’