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Passion and Drive
Producing books is our passion – working with paper, cover materials, the trade of printing, binding and finishing. It’s the many small details that make a good book. Some can be seen at first glance and others are often noticed much later: when the book can be optimally opened, without straining in the spine, when it has a pleasant smell, feels good and when it becomes even more charming with age. All of that requires solid workmanship, many years of experience and confidence in dealing with thousands of different materials.
Today, we constantly try and reinvent the book as an object and storage place for ideas. We continuously test the boundaries of this rich tradition: with experimental materials from the design and fashion world, with exceptional finishing and innovative printing techniques, as well as different book binding processes. The results are books of high-quality that also astonish.
We look forward to your orders and to beautiful, as well as exciting book projects – made in Germany.
Print is not dead – it just smells funny
Here are the reasons - in a nutshell - why you want to work with us, and that make us so unique.
There’s a lot to say about the whole purpose of paper journals in general, and our brandbook examples in particular. Here comes the condensed version.
brandbook – N°1 in custom designed notebooks
Your own Stationery Collection on the Market
We all have our favourite brands, brands that we trust, brands that represent certain values or lifestyles. We have gotten used to the fact that these brands distribute articles that they don’t produce themselves, yet still have to meet the quality requirements and values of the brands. As a manufacturer of stationery products, we offer companies a comprehensive service for the development of their own notebook, calendar and stationery collection. We offer support for the concept, material and selection of accessories, we produce dummies and take over the complete production all the way to packaging. All the products will be produced by us in Germany according to the highest quality standards. Furthermore, you profit from our experience in the stationery product trade.
Among our references are newspaper and magazine publishers, museums, diverse luxury brands, stationery manufacturers and fashion and design businesses. Current on-going stationery productions: Monocle, Swatch, MoMa.
So many books ♥︎ so little time
How do you differ from other manufacturers?
bb: We have no standard books. Our books are highly individual. Then, of course, our vast selection of materials that allow every customer to have a book produced that fits perfectly to their brand. And then, of course, there are a thousand possibilities to finish a book. A very significant factor: those who call us will speak with an expert of book production or book design. We make notebooks and books exclusively and have great know-how in this area.
You offer so many possibilities for a book production. How do you do that?
bb: We can’t make everything ourselves, but we always work together with the best and, unfortunately, often the last specialists of the trade – whether we need a sophisticated book edge or a special print or finishing technique such as letterpress or holographic embossing.
Why “made in Germany”?
Or, what factors speak against notebooks “made in China”?
bb: Most of the notebooks that are produced in China, contain paper that originates from illegally felled tropical wood from Indonesia. For the most part, paper manufacturers in China use lots of fresh water, unlike Europe – where we work with a friendlier, closed water circulation. The composition of cover materials from the Far East is also not subjected to the same strict regulations as in Europe. But most important of all is the durability: a notebook of poor quality, whether it has an inadequate binding or an unpleasant smell, will certainly not be used and in this way, cannot function as an ambassador for a brand.
“It’s always the most simple ideas producing exceptional achievements.”Leo Tolstoi
Why do you have so many international customers?
bb: Our first customer from London, a renowned international design magazine gave us a lot of support, so that in the meantime, we have a name as book manufacturers in the best circles. As a result, we have worked for the MoMA in San Francisco and the Google headquarters, among others. In a lot of countries, such as the USA or the UK, the book industry still only exists in rudimentary form. In Germany, it’s a different story. Here, there are still handcraft businesses that we can refer to when we need, for example, a very special book edge. Or we work with competitive-friendly companies, who are in the process of reviving old techniques.
You have an impressive list of customers …
bb: Without our customers, we wouldn’t be able to do our wonderful job and live out our passion for books. The good thing is, we gather new knowledge and experience with every new book production and this has a positive effect on future productions. That means, every book that we produce today, contains the experience of thousands of previous productions.
“Seeking to fascinate your clients, you need to provide them with extraordinary ideas.”Marcus Berthold
Why should a psi-distributor come to brandbook?
bb: Because we work with the conviction and know-how of a thousand productions. And besides, we are masters of customising books and notebooks in their entire spectrum.
Aren’t you sometimes making it too complicated for your customers?
bb: Let us put it this way: we also have solutions for customers that need, for example, 100 books with their company logo in a hurry, for an upcoming event – we can do that too. But book productions that present us with a challenge are our real passion. A lot of advertising and design agencies or manufacturers of promotional products expect high-quality and customised products.
Are your books more expensive than your competitors?
bb: Maybe some people would think that. But the fact is that our books are only relatively more expensive as the so-called brand products that are “made in China”. A distributor should consider what is more important to him: a few cents more price difference or the certainty of having a qualitative, high-end book and with that, satisfied customers.
Warum ein Notizbuch und nicht einen USB Stick als Kundengeschenk?
bb: Yes, in the world of promotional products, there are always hypes about the latest gadgets. It used to be usb-sticks, and then it was power banks. We will see what comes next … By the way, don’t forget that other companies have already possibly supplied the business partners with the same gadgets. A notebook is something completely different. It sends the message to the recipient: “I believe that you have good ideas that need to be written down.” It is also very flattering for the recipient. Moreover, they will notice very quickly that with every new entry, every new note, the book becomes more and more valuable. What other gift can you say that about?
„Nichts ist mächtiger als eine Idee zur richtigen Zeit.“Victor Hugo
Your books are now available in stores.
bb: Yes, four years ago, we started our nuuna label, to create an area of experimentation for ourselves. That means to produce notebooks that don’t yet exist in this form. In the meantime, our books are available worldwide in concept stores, museum shops and premium shopping centres. The basic idea behind the label is to design and produce notebooks for the “here and now”. No vintage or retro styles, but to deliberately create a contemporary to avant-garde design. For the current collection, we have just been awarded the Red Dot Design Award, which, of course, really makes us happy.
Do you use a notebook yourself?
bb: Once you have had the experience that handwritten notes are simply easier to remember, one gets in the habit of writing down really important things in notebooks. Additionally, it is a beautiful ritual, because one can focus on one thing without any distraction. It is just: me, the pen and the book. Books are becoming more and more objects that one simply has to own and touch.
Is there something that can be considered a new trend in the notebook sector?
bb: Yes, quite clearly. Today, we produce significantly more image books, look books or portfolios, books as an alternative to image brochures. Frequently, they are notebooks with a company portrait or a beautiful series of photos. The recipients can immerse themselves in the world of the company and at the same time fill the books with notes and comments of their own. Furthermore, our customers are demanding more individualised books. The book for the new Audi should also look as if it was a piece of highly-polished aluminium and not simply a standard notebook with a logo.
How do you see the future of notebooks?
bb: Notebooks are articles of everyday use, that can also be real must-haves, when they are made well. Today, where books stand in direct competition to i-pads & co., these objects must play out all their quality cards to continue to exist and remain relevant: paper, book cover, haptic, the design, the weight and the smell. Apart from that, we agree with the saying from the publisher, Joachim Unseld, who once said: “The book is the most developed invention of mankind.”
Published by Wigmar Bressel, Pascal Johanssen and Olaf Salié
A place for ideas, work tools and loyal companions – notebooks are so much more than simply a few pages of white paper between two book covers. The awareness for optically and qualitative sophisticated journals was almost non-existent for a long time in Germany. When Bernd Griese and Sabine Kochendörfer wanted to just buy a sophisticated notebook, they were shocked to find the drab selection of monotone, monochrome time-planners. Whereas in the USA the back-to-paper movement had already long since taken place, notebooks in Germany were living a “poor relations” existence. Not willing to subject their thoughts and creativity to this “calendar dictate of 3-lines per day”, they decided to simply start producing notebooks themselves. And thus, brandbook was developed in 1998 out of their design and product agency.
The concept is as simple as it is convincing: individual notebooks that are customised to fit the corporate design of every respective customer, meticulously produced in the highest of quality and 100% made in Germany. Even in the age of digitalisation, complex book productions do not lose their importance and appreciation, that is a given that also tells the brandbook success story. The company has already been awarded the Red Dot Award three times – a design award that honours exceptional book productions. Their list of customers include the most renowned design and advertising agencies and over a hundred top companies from the most diverse sectors worldwide. Since 2012, their offer has been expanded to include the nuuna retail collection.
Dates and Facts
Sector: Book Production
Products: Notebooks, Sketchbooks, Corporate Books,
Design Consultations and Support
Location: Frankfurt am Main, Hessen
Distribution: Worldwide, Direct Distribution
The book production is a complex trade with many components – paper quality, type of binding, cover materials, design of corners and edges, finishing techniques such as embossing or colour cut and accessories like ribbon page markers or elastic strip seals. Paper from small Japanese paper mills and exceptional cover materials that are not subjected to machine processing characterise the product range of brandbook as well as extraordinary printing techniques. All the notebooks and notepads are thread bound and are produced responsibly and resource-friendly.
The Brückenstraße district is to Frankfurt, what the Karo district is for Hamburg, the Belgien district for Cologne or the Kastanienallee for Berlin. Here, everyone knows everyone else. Here, everyone has something to do with art, design, fashion or media.
Three record stores, one comic store, two concept stores and lots of fashion stores and cafes create an inspiring work environment. Here is also the home of brandbook. From the street, one can already see the book experts at work over two stories through big display windows. Books, colour fans, paper samples and print sheets are stacked on the tables. brandbook specialises in the production of notebooks, calendars, books and other complex printing productions. Here one can find extraordinary paper, cover materials and samples of diverse printing and finishing techniques. Word of this expertise has spread and as a result, brandbook produces books for customers worldwide. The company’s customer list reflects this high-standing accordingly. Virtually every well-known brand from adidas to Zeche Zollverein is represented. But even the most renowned design and advertising agencies of Europe, that are seldom satisfied with standard solutions, find brandbook the perfect production partner for their book projects.
“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books … Don´t f_ck them.”John Waters, réalisateur
A stationery collection of your own produced under the nuuna label (since 2012) is not only available at the store – right next to the brandbook office – but is also sold as far away as Chile. That is unusual for a product that is produced exclusively in Germany and in accordance with high environmental and social standards. After all, approx. 90% of all notebooks today are produced in Asia. brandbook and nuuna can of course also gain additional plus points in regards to design and product quality. Through the collaboration of the eleven-member team that consists of print engineers, graphic designers, book scientists and print production experts, different perspectives are taken into account, so that at the end of every order a harmonious product is created. A further part of the success is surely due to the passion with which the book enthusiasts go to work. An individual, personal consultation and also a fast delivery times are additional advantages that customers of brandbook can expect.
In any case, here, one doesn’t have to fear the mantra that books and notebooks have no future. As an answer to the saying, “Print is dead” brandbook answers with confidence, “Print is not dead it just smells funny” written on our windows.
Made in Germany
Our highest commitment is: no compromises in regards to quality. Primarily, that means that we produce 100% in Germany – this goes against the general trends, as, in the meantime, 90% of all notebooks in Germany are manufactured in China, under sometimes precarious conditions. According to WWF Research it is common for illegally exploited wood to be processed and often used, in particular tropical wood from Indonesia.
FSC-Papers as Standards
For us, on the other hand, a sustainable company management and production that is in keeping with all the environmental guidelines and social standards is a matter of commitment. In our manufacturing processes, we use the savings potential of the newest technologies and materials. We print mainly on acid and chlorine-free, bleached FSC papers and use plant-oil based colours, adhesives without solvents and water-based coatings. In addition, the concept “made in Germany” allows us extraordinary flexibility and shorter delivery times. We compensate for higher production costs through optimal logistics and production processes.
Not only is the devil in the details, but also genuine qualitative characteristics are in the details and are reflected, not least at the visual and haptic level. brandbook books have, among other attributes, the most cleanly worked, round book edges on the market and all productions are thread bound. With this type of bookbinding – the highest quality – the folded, untrimmed sheets are bound with one or more threads to a book block, which gives the notebooks, in contrast to the glued varieties, high stability and longevity.
The medium, book is surely one of our most developed inventions ever and due to its long history, it is a firm element of the here and now. After all, it contains a specific potential that is absolutely current, even in the age of digitalisation.
Virtual worlds are constantly changing and thereby fleeting. One day is so, and the next day is completely new. Through constant digital communication, information is reported every second. Computer screens are incessantly trying to get our attention and even if it is just the blinking of the cursor. Floods of words and images, rapid and of high-resolution – only the airplane mode can release us from the 24 hour digital noise. Books function differently, slower but also director, more physical. We sense the material and its three-dimensional quality. The feel of the surface, the smell of the cover and paper and not least, the visibility of time create a feel for the presence – those of the haptic object, the written ideas, and the writing itself. Notebooks make a very characteristic writing experience possible: attentiveness, a time to muse and collect your own thoughts and yourself. Opening up a book can have a similar decelerating effect and sharpening of the wits as when riding a train: to be in motion, yet sitting still – concentrated, alone. The immediacy with which images and sentences are brought to paper, the very individual characteristic style of handwriting and drawn images, bring the subjective experience and your own awareness into focus.
No wonder that notebook users have almost tender feelings for their analogue warehouse of ideas. No one wants his own story to appear and be stored within cracked monitors and battered keyboards. The love of a notebook is intimate, long-lasting and not one to be posted or shared. A space for you alone: made to last, instead of being made to throw away.
Hardly any object shows change as explicitly as a paper journal.
The consistency of books is certainly never to be confused with the static. There is hardly an object that shows change more clearly than a notebook – both the object and in your thinking. Diverse traces of coffee and wine, dirt and rain that mark the material and create an individual patina, tell of its use, of development and change. And not only on the outside, but also in regards to the content, notebooks are definitely dynamic investments. Texts on laptops are cut up, moved back and forth, constantly revised, optimised, completed and ultimately, overwritten and saved when they are perfect. This is the opposite of the immediacy of the written word, where every manual correction, every ripped out page, every crossed out letter of the continuous thought process is preserved.
It is not unusual that when browsing through your notes, hidden connections and forgotten memories come to light. In this way, work processes have their own form of presence and visibility. And when browsing, we are reviewing the chronology of a “natural system” of organisation that fits ideally to the operational function of the human brain. That is why information is surprisingly easy to find intuitively. In addition, things that are written and drawn analogue – as many different studies prove – are better remembered over a longer period of time anyway. Because during the first step of the work process, we already filter, rate, estimate and create a structure.
Handwriting beats the ten-finger system of typing.
The notebook is misunderstood, if it is considered a pre-digital phenomenon and damned to a sad existence as a replaceable vintage accessory or a last alternative for conservative technophobes. The term Monotone-monochrome and notebooks do not fit together. They are a versatile instrument of our time: full of mindfulness and self-discovery. A notebook is a diary and personal companion, a place for ideas and a bearer of inspiration, a learning tool and a place for experimentation. A notebook is innovative and traditional, vibrant and calming, unique and universal all at the same time – just simply an essential tool for the here and now.
With each single entry the notebook becomes a more personal and valuable companion.
Although the brandbook concept is unique, we can not at all be called lone wolfs. On the contrary, we love collaborative work on a shared vision. The brandbook circle of friends includes excellent designers, illustrators, product developers, technicians, and institutions.