Why fff and yyy are now next to each other in the alphabet

diffferent and SYZYGY join forces. SYZYGY now holds a majority. We are convinced that this is the right step for us at the right time.

We have some exciting news. As you may have already seen the first news ticker, first off the facts summarized in short: Today diffferent joined forces with SYZYGY AG, an agency whose name might be one the hardest to pronounce, but which is also one of the best agencies in Germany when it comes to digital business and marketing. SYZYGY now holds a majority, because they believe in what we do for and with you. And we said “yes”. Yes, because we are convinced that this way something rather important will be created. The three of us – Alexander Kiock, Dirk Jehmlich, Jan Pechmann – will remain managing directors and partners of diffferent. Furthermore, Alex will assume the role of the Chief Strategy Officer of the SYZYGY group.

So much for the facts. However, if you found a two-man shop in 1997 and sell off a large portion of it as an established 100-man company twenty years later, there are a lot more stories to tell. We want to tell you a bit more about three of them – how we got here, where is the forefront in strategy and the thing about taking a stance.

How we got here.

When it all started, we worked primarily with marketing and communication departments to develop brand promises with profundity – or to describe it in a more contemporary way: to help them understand the real purpose of their actions. Eventually digitalization really took off and brand experiences were less shaped through classic communication but rather through digital services with new business models behind them. The conclusion for us: We had to learn quickly to work with digital and innovation departments to fulfill their brand promises in a novel way and to develop service innovations and business models together. In the midst of the general transformation it didn’t take long to transpire, that the most critical and crucial factor for success for companies in this digital age is to take their teams along on this journey. (To be honest: We now believe that personnel management focus is much more important than customer focus). For us, this means that we work a lot more closely with HR departments nowadays and support them in enabling their employees.

With every evolutionary phase we found new and wonderful companions who made us better. From this grew a collective of which we are unbelievably proud and with whom we now often span the bridge for strategic core projects across departments of an organisation. This evolution would have not been possible without your tremendous trust and commitment. Together with all of you we continue to break fresh ground and for this privilege we are incredibly thankful.

Where is the forefront in strategy?

For a while now, we felt that we have to take the next step as consultants. Strategy and implementation continue to become more and more inseparable. There is no more “first” and „after that“. Strategy work is becoming faster, more iterative and more creative. Implementation will be more sustainable, more strategic and hence earlier integrated in thought processes. This is a huge challenge for many strategists. The 250-slides management board presentation may not be dead yet but it’s starting to smell funny. It will be a collective endeavour for the whole strategy guild to direct the focus of their intellectual work away from the theoretical PowerPoint presentation to the factual proof point in order to develop better strategies with an increased success guarantee.

When it comes to this new perception of strategy, as a consultancy we have been at the forefront quite early on – with all assets and drawbacks of an active pioneer life. This also made us see: At diffferent we are more thinkers than doers. And when it comes to strategy only those who know how to apply implementation strength as a tool and driver of the quality of their thinking and consulting work are at the forefront.

Which is why we have been looking for a partner who can help us raise our aspiration for strategy and conception even more. With SYZYGY and their team of 650 technologists, designers, data-experts, performance marketers, marketing IT staff and creatives, we have found the perfect match. Fine people, who are wide awake, have new ways of thinking and allow us to not only take technical feasibility and customer relevance even more into consideration but to also test it much more quickly.

The thing about taking a stance.

Our most important story, however, has nothing to do with diffferent’s past or present, but with our collective future, because somehow looking ahead feels a bit sedated: Digitalisation is the answer. But what was the question again? Especially these days, we’re missing a vision of a society out there to which we can look forward to. One that doesn’t confuse curiosity and openness with digital drunkenness. One that asks about human feasibility before asking about technical feasibility.

Economy is perhaps our ultimate societal institution. difffriends are happy to keep going to work in the morning to help commercial enterprises to master exponential technologies and to shape their future. So it is up to us to make it better.

We feel that for the most part there is no lack of ideas in Germany, but rather a lack of empathy to fill them with purpose and enthusiasm. And thus, we worry too often too much about scaling and not enough about taking a stance and ensuring substance in the solutions that we develop. If digital transformation means that familiar settings change, we have to invest more energy to name a purposeful „why“ and to shape the truth accordingly.

At diffferent we took an important step by establishing „strategic surprise“ as our school of thought. A school based on empathy whose guiding principle is to not solve problems of the future with templates of the past. A school which now and then produces solutions so exciting you want to talk about even after leaving work. In practice, this results in customizing each project as individually as possible – sometimes even if it means giving our CFO a headache in doing so. But it was always clear to us that we can only partner with someone who shares our beliefs one hundred percent. That we only want to work with an agency who, like us, does not want to earn their money with serialized problem-solving concepts, but with individual solutions which match the client’s culture, capabilities and values. With SYZYGY we have found this partner. We are united by 20 years of experience and the knowledge that there is no such thing as a panacea for the digital change. Which is why, in future, it is our common goal to make the most out of it - together.

Stay different,
Alex, Jan und Dirk

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