4 learnings from joining a US – Japan Design and Marketing Agency
When I think about my experience in the design field a year ago compared to today, it is night and day. I went from working for a big e-commerce company with roughly 200 employees in one location to a smaller design agency with 20 employees across offices in the U.S. and Japan.
btrax is the first design and marketing agency that I have worked for and I’ve noticed a few differences already compared to my previous role. Not only am I utilizing more of my design skills and knowledge, I’ve been able to experience a new company culture, language, and workstyle. It has given me a better appreciation and opened my eyes to how diverse the workforce is.
1. Company Mission
One thing that you notice very quickly about working for a new company is how you feel about your work and your company’s goals. My last company valued sourcing the best art and design from independent artists around the world. On the other hand, btrax seeks to bridge the gaps between cultures, business, and mindset.
The mission to collectively grow together vs. the emphasis on individuality is one of the many changes that I have faced. However, what resonated with me most was that I wanted to work in a diverse team setting. Working at btrax offers more opportunities to learn and develop skills, as well as delve into areas outside of my immediate expertise.
2. Collective vs. Individualistic Company Culture
I worked in the retail sector at my previous company, where the main focus of design was to produce and edit templates according to consumer needs and requirements. One major point that I noticed was a lack of engagement between the members on our team, only interacting during scheduled lunches and at after work gatherings, if people showed up. It felt as if I were working on a digital assembly line where you do only what your assigned tasks are from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m..
On the other hand, at btrax, I collaborate with my team on a daily basis, whether it’s brainstorming design concepts or planning out strategies through Slack and Google Meets. There is a sense of coordination and camaraderie from working closely within a team that I never felt before. As a result, I have been presented with opportunities to wear multiple hats and dip my toes in different departments.
Since btrax is a bi-lingual, bi-cultural company, we are encouraged to take weekly Japanese classes that help the non-Japanese speaking employees work on bridging the language and culture gap. This has helped me learn more about Japanese culture, business practices, marketing and design, all in a friendly and empathetic environment.
3. Type of Design
The difference between the two companies is the work produced in stationery products and print vs. digital design. My previous company was an online marketplace of independent artists and designers with the company crowdsourcing art and graphic design through monthly design challenges.
The public votes for the winning entries, and the company produces the winning work as stationery, wall art, and decor. The style consisted mainly of contemporary art, photography, and patterns to compliment modern interior design.
The type of design work at btrax is much more varied as we do everything from UX/UI design for mobile and desktop platforms on Figma to working with print, such as brochures and accordion books. Aside from our client work, we have internal tasks that are handled both individually (blog articles) and in teams (updating our branding and website along with various miscellaneous tasks).
Working within company design guidelines for retail customers in comparison to solving design problems and working within client design guidelines is completely different. The communication in my previous role was done with messaging directly to the customer through a ticketing system and all of the changes were made from requests through this ticketing system.
We each needed to complete our short 1 to 2 day turn arounds with as many orders as possible, reaching or even exceeding our daily order goal. In a similar way to btrax, I would work with a client every step of the way, making them a part of the process and ensuring the best possible work in a timely manner.
As for btrax, we work with clients in different timezones on projects that take multiple weeks or months. Although our office hours are from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., work schedules are individually managed due to the nature of the work and the client’s decisions. Working directly with clients creates new challenges and opportunities to learn that I did not gain when working on preset orders and templates.
The main differences I have noticed between my previous and current role is the sense of value and community. On a design team of thirty individuals working in production design, it is difficult to feel that you have an impact on the company. Though the role was not very stressful and did not require you to take your work home, there was not a sense of accomplishment that I feel with btrax.
My work and impact on the team is noticed and I feel appreciated for what I have accomplished with my team so far. Since working at btrax, I have learned what it is like to be a part of a design team, full of very talented and experienced individuals that are a pleasure to work with.
If you have interested in btrax, please feel free to contact us.
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