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Creating purpose is strategy, not marketing

Why “purpose” is the new buzz word in branding
Within the last couple of years more and more people in business talk and write about the “purpose” of their company and how it creates meaning. Recently I’ve been reading articles in the ad and marketing industry where the term “purpose agency” has suddenly become the new buzz. One of my fellow members of the Medinge Group recently pointed to a consultant on LinkedIn claiming she was “the Worlds first” and only “purpose consultant”. Needless to say she is not the first, neither the only. What her title reflects is that it’s become fashionable to talk about the purpose and meaning of companies, organizations and cities.

When does a company create meaning?
But what is this meaning of purpose? When does a company create meaning for it’s employees, customers and other stakeholders? And if you are unfortunate enough to work in an organization where goals are defined only in terms of profit or other mainstreamed goals (you know it because they sound exactly like every one else’s goals), what do you do?

A few weeks ago I read an article about a newly started agency, who called themselves a “purpose agency”. The reporter asked: “What is a purpose agency?”. The self-proclaimed purpose agency then explained, that purpose is not just CSR (which is widely understood as doing good only to gain positive publicity), but about having a “purposeful” interaction with your consumers. The reporter further investigated: “What is your own purpose?” which the newly redefined agency had a hard time answering.

They were all about finding out what “purpose” meant. In other words, a purpose agency without a firm idea of their own purpose? Are you kidding? It sounds more like a classic ad agency to me - except for the fact, that any ad agency with a fair amount of pride and belief in themselves would at least talk about adding value to their customers in terms of sales, market share or brand equity through creative campaigns – some of the virtues of ad agencies since the days of people like Ogilvy, Saatchi and J. Walter Thompson.

It seems that everyone is suddenly talking about purpose. The purpose of the company, purpose at work, the purpose that any given product serves. More and more agencies have replaced “advertising agency” with “purpose agencies”. But no one – especially in the ad and marketing business – seems to know what this “purpose” is.

Purpose - a new advertising topping?
Just as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been used and misused as an advertising “topping” over the last decade, purpose is now the hip term being used as a neat add-on that will give your next branding strategy the right flavour. It’s quite the opposite of what purpose actually means when you want to create real value in a company or a city.

The Meaning Society
The time we live in now is what I call The Meaning Society. It’s a time where the vast majority of people in the developed part of the World are far beyond making a living, getting shelter and food and have a need for participating in a bigger purpose and creating something meaningful in their lifes, nomatter if it’s at work, at home or when they travel. This has a huge impact on the way people respond to companies and brands. We try to navigate between brands of all sorts and make sense of them. And since most people in Europe and the US have become connoisseurs of brands we – knowing or unknowingly – try to define and use brands that are meaningful and support our sense of self and the reality or development we aspire to see in the World.

That goes not only for products (as has so offently been described) but also for corporate brands (brands that are companies or organizations), cities and regions. Just as you try to understand the nature or meaning of people we meet, you try to make sense of any company or place you encounter. And that’s where the company’s purpose comes in.

First of all talking abot purpose is not a new phenomenon. On a larger human scale finding the meaning of being (human) has been at the center of philosophy and litterature for ages. In terms of business and corporate branding it has been an important part of defining strategy and identity, mostly talked about in terms like “raison d’etre”, mission and vision statements and brand promises. What are we here for? What do we do? Why do we do what we do? During the 80’s and 90’s there was more attention on things like “core competencies” and “values”. It was considered important to know what competencies helped the company produce or deliver the goods or services it was offering – and what competencies helped it do so. But competencies were often too concrete and physical to help develop something new, and the values often to airy to comprehend and turn into physical practice.

Start With Why
More recently in 2009 Simon Sinek published his Start With Why book, which became a well known marketing and branding book. It describes how companies can benefit from working with the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires them to do what they do. He suggests us to start with “asking why” the company does what it does rather than focusing on what it does. The book and the reasoning behind it is not only simple but simplistic – on the verge of common sense. And that’s probably part of the success – it’s easy to understand and points out something very essential to every company and every organization. The question is, how do you start with why – what’s the proper process and through what methodologies do you define a purpose for the company that contributes to define the “why” in a wider context of the heritage and cultural reasoning of the organization?

What drives and differentiates your organization?
At Stagis we have worked with the very key of defining a companys purpose since I founded this brand agency in 1997. Early on, I found interest in trying to understand what was then called the “soul” of the company. Before creating logos, campaigns and communicating with the press I tried to figure out how to understand and describe the central and essential qualities of the company. I thought – and still think – if you don’t know exactly what drives and differentiates an organization, how can you help it express itself in a meaningful way?

We discovered that the soul rather than the products or services is often the differentiator, the very reason that your company is different from others. It’s the reason why your company is unique in some way - and often it’s the engine behind innovation, development and growth. And it tends to have more to do with the practises and ways of doing things and hence the organizational culture of the company than any facts you could look up. This understanding of “soul” was the beginning of what I have later examined, elaborated and named as the company’s “authentic strengh” in my master thesis in 2006 and in my book “The Authentic Company” from 2012.

LEGO and NOMA discovered or rediscovered their purpose

In The Authentic Company (“Den autentiske virksomhed” published in Danish at GyldendalBusiness) I examine a wide range of authentic brands, which all have one thing in common: They all have discovered or rediscovered their purpose and it has become their driver of growth. This was the driver of LEGO’s turn around from 2003 - 2006 (and the companys continuing growth), and it was the key driver that lead famous restaurant NOMA in Copenhagen to become the best restaurant in the world – now for the fourth time.

Purpose is the very essence of a brand and a well functioning organization. It’s one of the key codes among 9 codes of authentic identity. It gives meaning to the people that deliver the brand, it is the source of the company’s brand promise and it’s a key element in the customers ability to build a relationship with the brand. This is what determines the brand’s path in the world.

80's and 90's was all about values, vision and mission
Back in the 80's and 90's there was a lot of talk about company values, the common vision and the company’s mission in the C-suite. Everyone wanted to define the values that people should act by as they went about their daily tasks. Not all of these many value statements and visions help managers and employees to act differently. Often these statements are so vague or generally frased that they don’t really make sense. And what’s worse, they are often there to fill up an empty space where the company should have it’s overall idea, it’s reason for being.

Remember comes from "re-" and "member"
Right now we are helping DDH (Det Danske Hedeselskab) revitalise and remember their purpose (keep in mind, “remember” comes from two things, “re-” and “member”, so it’s about becoming a member of that purpose once again) in order to build a strong visual and communicative brand on the basis of the company’s authentic strengths. And one of the key elements for the past 148 years is the purpose: to help people live better lifes in the open land of Denmark. In the years after 1866 that meant getting food on the table and surviving in the rural areas. Back then the purpose was about planting forrest, help change the soil so that it could be cultivated for growing plants and draining fields so that farmers could get by. Today they help all over the country, even in 10 other countries and they do innovation. As urbanisation trends over the past 10-20 years are developing more in the direction of big cities and less people in rural Denmark, creating sufficient basis for services like nurseries, schools and healthcare is becoming more difficult. So the founder Dalgas’ purpose is still relevant – just in slightly different ways.

The same goes for the Municipality of Varde in western Denmark (including the most western point of Denmark, Blaavandshuk Fyr) and lots of other regions and towns. We are helping the Mayor and the local politicians and the city managers of Varde redefine and create their purpose above and beyond what is demanded from them by Danish legislation. In order for them to become an attractive place to live and invest they have to find their own passions, their own way of doing things and their own goals that they can unite around.

Where does your company’s passion lie?

To uncover the purpose of the company, you have to find out: Where does your company’s passion lie? What is the set of authentic strengths that the company builds on? And how can these elements comprise a place in the mental and physical market space and create a strategic path into the future? If you are not able of developing a sense of purpose you will not be able to create a meaningful and powerful brand. On the other hand, if you succeed in acting from your brand purpose you can unlock your company’s true potential for growth and success on multiple levels, creating a place for learning, ongoing innovation and an improving bottom line. That means talking about the purpose is basically not a marketing or communication concern – as it is sometimes considered – it’s a strategic and organizational issue that every top-management should be discussing. Who are we? What is our key reason for existing? Which inner strengths make us good at what we do?

Transforming purpose into actions, budgets, projects and policies
When the communications- or marketing department asks for the company’s purpose and try to define it in order to communicate, there is a tendency for the process to become a glaze that creates a nice surface which is supposed to give meaning to certain target groups - like new customers. But if the purpose isn’t felt and lived by the people inside the organization or town hall – who are delivering the brand every day – the mission of talking about purpose hasn’t really been accomplished. Defining and redefining the company’s purpose is one of the core assignments for the board of directors and the CEO if it is to have any real impact and carry meaning. They are the people who are able of setting the purpose for everyone in the organization and getting the purpose transformed into physical actions, budgets, projects and policies.

Let's talk about purpose in a meaningful manner
So when ad agencies talk about purpose, they are absolutely right in pointing out that a brand and any ad or marketing campaign should be defined in terms of the company’s purpose. However, it’s hardly the campaign that is going to drive the purpose forward. So let’s talk about purpose in a meaningful manner. If we do, we will hopefully avoid that the term “purpose” will have same unsuccesful faith as CSR, which was misunderstood by a whole generation of marketing people and used as something you add to the recipe in order to glaze the business with meaning. Purpose is a strategy discipline and not a marketing discipline.


De seneste par år er flere og flere i kommunikationsbranchen tilsyneladende begyndt at snakke om “purpose”. Virksomhedens purpose, arbejdets purpose, produkters purpose m.m. Flere og flere bureauer har erstattet “reklamebureau” med “purpose bureau”, men ingen - specielt i reklame- og marketingbranchen - lader til at vide, hvad purpose er.  

“Purpose” er essencen af et brand og en velfungerende organisation. Det er det, der skaber mening for de mennesker, der lever brandet, det er kilden til virksomhedens brand promise, og det er hovedelementet i forbrugerens mulighed for at opbygge et forhold til brandet. Purpose er det, der definerer dit brand.

Hvordan kan man forstå og beskrive virksomhedens essentielle kvaliteter på en meningsfuld måde, hvis man ikke ved, hvad der driver og differentierer en organisation? Hos Stagis har vi arbejdet med at finde nøglen til det, der definerer en virksomheds purpose, siden etableringen af bureauet i 1997.

Det er snarere en virksomheds sjæl, end det er dens produkter og services, der gør den unik, og som er drivkraften bag innovation, udvikling og vækst. Forståelsen af “sjæl” var begyndelsen på, hvad jeg senere udforskede og kaldte virksomhedens “autentiske styrke” i min bog Den Autentiske Virksomhed fra 2012. I bogen undersøger jeg en masse forskellige autentiske brands, som alle har den ting til fælles, at de har opdaget eller genopdaget deres purpose, som er blevet deres drivkraft til vækst. Dette var for eksempel LEGO’s turnaround fra 2003-2006, og det var det, der gjorde NOMA i København den bedste restaurant i verden

Lige nu hjælper vi blandt andet Hedeselskabet med at genopdage og huske deres purpose, for at kunne opbygge et stærkt visuelt og kommunikativt brand. En af hovedelementerne i virksomhedens purpose igennem de sidste 148 år har for eksempel været at hjælpe folk med at leve bedre liv i det åbne danske land. Ligeledes hjælper vi Varde Kommune i det vestlige Danmark (ved Blaavandshuk Fyr) med at redefinere og skabe deres purpose, så kommunen kan blive et attraktivt sted at leve og investere.

Hvis arbejdet med purpose skal give mening, skal ledelsen være i stand til at fastlægge purpose for hele organisationen og at få det gjort til fysiske handlinger, budgetter, projekter og politikker. Purpose er en strategidisciplin og ikke en marketingdisciplin.

Stagis helps Hedeselskabet with purpose and identity

This summer could not end in a better way here at Stagis. We have won the task to help Hedeselskabet create and develop their purpose and new identity. This means, that we will be spending a great deal of this fall and the next year working with Hedeselskabet, a very unique organization with more than 100 years of history. 
Hedeselskabet is one of those special organizations, that has proven successful in surviving their own purpose. Hedeselskabet was originally established to recover heathland and convert it into agriculture. The situation for agriculture in Denmark has changed during the lifetime of Hedeselskabet and so has the purpose of the organization. We will help Hedeselskabet identify and establish their new purpose and identity, and to make this more clear both internally and externally. The new identity and purpose will help modernize the association and business and lay the ground for a visual identity and branding of Hedeselskabet.

Branding an untraditional organization
Hedeselskabet is an indeed interesting and untraditional organization. It has a long tradition for implementing and supporting development and research projects within the areas of nature, environment and energy. Hedeselskabet works actively with the improvements of the living conditions in the country areas and to make effectively use of the natural resources. Hedeselskabet also runs commerciel business through a number of subsidiaries.
The journey towards a new purpose and identity has already started. Our team of anthropologists and consultants are right now travelling through the Danish country to explore the strengths and potentials of Hedeselskabet, which will lay the ground for the identity process. We examine the history, the organizational culture and uncover the strengths and potentials of the organization which can be developed in new and more useful ways.
Mapping the authentic identity

Stagis’ team is mapping the authentic identity of Hedeselskabet through ethnographic method and antroprological observation and interviews with different members and employees, which together with analysis of documents and litterature about Hedeselskabet contribute to a clear picture of what the authentic strengths of the organization are.

When the authentic identity of Hedeselskabet is clear the work begins with creating Hedeselskabet’s new brand. This brand strategy will set the direction for the visual identity and all Hedeselskabet’s communication. This implies development of characteristics for the new identity, architecture of the brand and a new designguide for the new visual identity.  
Relaunch of journal and new digital strategy
There are many exciting projects in pipeline. One important channel for Hedeselskabet’s communication to its members is the journal called Vækst. Vækst needs to support and expand the understanding and awareness of the organization and its purpose. A reinterpretation and relaunching of Vækst, both on the editorial part and the design part must make it fulfill its potential as communication channel.

Hedeselskabet is - as many other companies and organizations - taking the first steps into a new chapter, where dissemination, communications and communities are digital. Hedeselskabet needs a digital strategy to ensure targeting the relevant platforms for communicating, debate and sharing their knowledge through the internet and interactive and living platforms for dissemination.

We are looking very much forward to all these exciting projects with Hedeselskabet and you can follow our work here at Stagis blog.

Som en god afslutning på denne sommer vandt Stagis opgaven at skulle hjælpe Hedeselskabet med at udvikle deres nye identitet. Det betyder, at en del af vores team vil tilbringe en stor del af resten af året med arbejdet med denne spændende organisation og forening og deres mere end 100 års historie, hvilket vi ser meget frem til. Vi glæder os til at udforske Hedeselskabet og udvikle organisationens nye identitet.
Opgaven er at undersøge Hedeselskabets autentiske styrker for at kunne kortlægge organisationens autentiske identitet og udvikle dens nye purpose, som er det, der skal danne grundlag for opbygningen af brandet. Som første step på rejsen mod Hedeselskabets nye identitet, er vores antropologer og konsulenter taget ud i det danske land for at møde medlemmer og tilknyttede til organisationen, for at se og høre om Hedeselskabet.

Vi ser frem til at finde ud af, hvad observationer og interviews bringer med sig af indsigt i den unikke gamle organisation, som kan danne grundlag for organisationens nye identitet og purpose. Følg med i arbejdet med identitetsprocessen over de næste par måneder her på bloggen.

Kommunernes svære linedans

Kronik i Jyllands-Posten 1. oktober 2014.

Af Nikolaj Stagis, forfatter og adm. dir. i brandingbureauet Stagis A/S

Kommuner, byer og regioner Danmark rundt taler om branding. Om at skille sig ud fra mængden. Med kommunalreformen, finanskrisen og urbaniseringen er der skabt et øget behov for at differentiere sig. Det bliver kommunerne nødt til at forholde sig til, hvis de ønsker, at de attraktive borgere, virksomheder og investorer skal få øje på netop deres område. Men mange kommuner rammer hovedet mod en mur, for det er svært at tage det modige valg, når de skal beslutte, hvad netop deres kommune bør være kendte for. I det politiske spil er kompromisets kunst at give lidt til alle, men når du skal skabe et stærkt brand, handler det stik modsat om: ”Hvis du vil være alt, så bliver du intet”. Kommunerne fanges i en svær linedans mellem demokrati og differentiering.

"Ingen flytter, fordi de har set en annonce eller et kampagnetiltag, der overraskede eller fik smilet frem på læben," skriver Nikolaj Stagis i sin kronik i Jyllands-Posten 1. oktober 2014.

Diagnosen er klokkeklar. Rigtig mange af Danmarks kommuner lider af mainstreaming. I potentielle tilflytteres bevidsthed flyder de simpelthen sammen som en ensartet masse uden unikke kendetegn. Det er svært se forskel på de mange naturskønne kommuner med deres kyststrækninger, grønne politikker og særlige tiltag til børnefamilierne. Det bugner med bosætningskampagner, hvor budskabet er ”vi har alt, vi mangler bare dig”. De mange millioner afsat til kampagner og smarte slogans ruller derudaf, mens effekten udebliver. For én ting er sikkert, når du arbejder med kommunebranding eller placebranding: Ingen flytter, fordi de har set en annonce eller et kampagnetiltag, der overraskede eller fik smilet frem på læben.

Udvid det potentielle bosætningsområde
Forskningen viser, at mennesker flytter, når der sker livsændringer. Ægteskaber, skilsmisser, dødsfald, børn, uddannelse, jobskifte. De store livsændringer. Det kan du som borgmester eller byrådsmedlem ikke gøre meget for at påvirke. Men det, du kan gøre, er at sørge for, at dit område er kendt som et sted med en unik identitet og særlige kvaliteter. Så når jobbet pludselig ligger på et supersygehus i Hillerød og ønsket om at bosætte sig i Nordsjælland indtræder, er det potentielle bosætningsområde mentalt udvidet til at dække hele området fra Fredensborg til Frederiksværk.

Det gælder også, når virksomheder skal placere deres nye hovedkontor, eller du skal tiltrække dig opmærksomheden fra de evigt attraktive – ofte udenlandske – investorer. Så har du brug for, at målgruppen tænker, at der sker noget unikt i fx Thy, Tårnby eller Tarm. Klyngetankegangen er ligeså velkendt, som den ofte er glemt, når vi taler placebranding. Silicon Valley blev jo heller ikke kendt for at kunne noget særligt inden for alle former for erhverv.

Branding handler om at sætte en klar retning. Som alt andet strategi-arbejde handler det først og fremmest om valg. Til- og fravalg. Og her opstår den demokratiske udfordring. For rundt om i kommunerne forsøger man at sætte en retning og skabe differentiering i en plenum-proces, hvor byråd, udviklingsråd, borgere, virksomheder, politikere og en lang række organisationerne skal tilgodeses. Det ville svare til, at Carlsberg eller Novo Nordisk spurgte alle mellemledere, ansatte, aktionærer, samarbejdspartnere og forbrugere om, hvilken retning, direktion og bestyrelse bør sætte.

Alle er gode til noget
Succesfuld branding kræver modet til at handle og forandre. Som de siger i børnebogen Gummi-Tarzan, ”så er der altid noget, man er god til, man skal bare finde ud af, hvad det er”. Det er kommunernes fornemste opgave at finde ud af, hvad de er særligt gode til – og så satse benhårdt på det. Det går ikke at blive ved med at fortynde og forvirre den strategiske retning med flere og flere ting, som man i øvrigt også er gode til i kommunen. Du ender med at blive en meget tynd kop te – lige så mainstream, som du hele tiden har været.

Danmark rundt findes masser af ildsjæle, der hver dag driver spændende og innovative tiltag med potentialet for at blive noget stort. Lejre Kommune er et godt eksempel på en kommune, der har fundet sine styrker og potentialer, lagt en plan for at udrulle dem, og ved at følge denne er lykkedes med at blive hovedstadens økologiske forhave. Det handler om at få potentialerne frem i lyset og sammen turde vælge jeres retning. Først her kan I begynde at handle og forandre jeres kommune – og her starter jeres rejse mod at blive et stærkt kommunebrand.

Smøg ærmerne op
Succesfuld branding er et langt sejt træk, hvor I sammen smøger ærmerne op og tager fat. Der er mange interesser, der skal balanceres, men lige så mange valg, der skal træffes. Hvis I ikke foretager de modige valg og handler på dem, ender I med at stå og svaje med sammenknebne øjne midt på linen. I blind tillid til, at den næste bosætningskampagne nok skal få jer sikkert over den anden side.


Chronicle in the national daily Jyllands-Posten by Nikolaj Stagis: "Municipalities, cities and regions in Denmark are talking about branding. How to differentiate from the crowd. Reforms, financial crisis and urbanization has led to a greater need to differentiate. Local authorities have to deal with this if they want the attractive citizens, businesses and investors to discover their particular area. Many municipalities are challenged here, when they need to decide what exactly their municipality should be known for. In the political arena the art of compromise is to give a little to everyone, but when you need to create a strong brand, it's the opposite: "If you want to be everything, you become nothing." Municipalities are caught in a difficult dilemma between democracy and differentiation."

Stagis samler det kommunale landskab 11. november

Vi fortsætter sidste års succes og samler landets kommuner til Kommunebranding14 konference på Børsen 11. november. Sidste år mødte repræsentanter fra hele 49 kommuner op til en dag med indslag fra både forskere, praktikere og cases, der kom med deres vinkel på årets tema, som var, hvordan autentiske styrker kan skabe vækst i kommunen.

I år er temaet “Fra politisk vision til virkelighed” og vi sætter fokus på implementering, og hvordan man bevæger kommunen fra vision til virkelighed, så de politiske visioner og strategier får liv blandt borgere og erhvervsliv.

Vi er utroligt glade for, at vi igen i år kan afholde konferencen i samarbejde med Dansk Erhverv, og at vi yderligere kan tilføje Danske Kommuner og Jyllands-Posten som samarbejdspartnere.
Her et par af de visuelle elementer, som er anvendt i markedsføringen af Kommunebranding14 bl.a. i mediesamarbejdet med Jyllands-Posten og magasinet Danske Kommuner. Våbenskjoldene symboliserer de mange forskellige veje, kommuner kan gå, når de skal skabe et stærkt brand.  

Hør økonomi- og indenrigsminister Morten Østergaard
De sidste måneder er gået med at researche os frem til de bedste internationale og nationale talere og cases. Årets program er næsten på plads, og der er god grund til at glæde sig. Økonomi- og indenrigsminister Morten Østergaard vil tale om, hvordan vi driver nye initiativer og vækst i alle Danmarks kommuner, og Nikolaj Stagis vil slå årets tema an med en keynote præsentation om, hvordan man omdanner sin vision til virkelighed.

Mød eksperterne
På konferencen vil du møde bosætningsforsker Helle Nørgaard, som fortæller om danskernes bosætningsmønstre og flyttemotiver, professor Gregory Ashworth, som diskuterer, om place branding altid er den rette løsning og PhD. Mihalis Kavaratzis, der taler om vigtigheden af stakeholder involvering, når man vil skabe et stærkt place brand.

Og få de gode eksempler
På konferencen præsenterer vi desuden en række stærke caseeksempler på kommuner, som på hver sin måde har knækket koden og formået at styrke deres brand ved at sætte handling bag visionen. Bornholms Regionskommunes borgmester Winni Grosbøll fortæller om udviklingen og implementeringen af Folkemødet og om dets betydning for Bornholms brand, og Lejre Kommunes borgmester Mette Touborg vil i selskab med kommunaldirektør Inger Marie Vynne og programleder Tina Unger fortælle om, hvordan Lejre er lykkedes med at blive “Den økologiske kommune”.

Udforsk programmet og tilmeld dig Kommunebranding14
I forbindelse med Kommunebranding14 er vores kampagnesite gået i luften. Her kan du se alle nyheder i forbindelse med konferencen, udforske programmet, læse om talerne og tilmelde dig konferencen. Vi har sendt invitationer ud til alle landets kommuner og er begyndt annonceringen i Danske Kommuner og Jyllands-Posten. 23 kommuner - heriblandt Aarhus, København, Gribskov, Svendborg, Køge og Esbjerg - samt 7 ikke-kommunale organisationer har allerede tilmeldt sig konferencen, og vi glæder os til at byde alle velkommen den 11. november på Børsen i København. 
Husk, at der er gode rabatter at hente, hvis I kommer flere fra samme kommune. 

The conference Kommunebranding14 ("MunicipalityBranding14") will build on last years success and feature both academic researchers and practitioners from Denmark and abroad e.g. professor Gregory Ashworth, Ph.D. Helle Nørgaard and the Mayor of Lejre Municipality Mette Touborg. This years theme is implementation thus we will focus on how municipalities transform their political visions and strategies into actual change. 

Stagis will host the conference in collaboration with The Danish Chamber of Commerce and our media partners Jyllands-Posten and Danske Kommuner.
The conference will take place on November 11th 2014 in the old Stock Exchange, Børsen, in Copenhagen. 

Mød Morten Østergaard på Kommunebranding14

Økonomi- og indenrigsminister Morten Østergaard er en af talerne ved Stagis' konference Kommunebranding14, som afholdes 11. november. Fotograf: Kim Vadskær

Vi kan med stor glæde præsentere økonomi- og indenrigsminister Morten Østergaard (R) som taler på dette års Kommunebranding14 den 11. november på Børsen. På konferencen vil ministeren tale om, hvordan vi driver nye initiativer og vækst i alle Danmarks kommuner.

Morten Østergaard er politisk leder af Det Radikale Venstre samt økonomi- og indenrigsminister siden 2014. Økonomi- og Indenrigsministeriet fungerer som den øverste kontrollerende myndighed for kommuner og regioner og fastlægger de overordnede politikker af den offentlige sektor. Som økonomi- og indenrigsminister har Morten Østergaard derfor et tæt samarbejde med landets kommuner.

I det hele taget er programmet til årets konference ved at være på plads. Udover ministeren kan du møde en række internationale branding-eksperter, høre de gode eksempler på, hvordan man flytter sin vision ud i livet , fra Lejre, Varde og Bornholm og få indsigt i danskernes flyttemotiver og bosætningsmønstre.

Jo flere I tilmelder jer fra samme organisation des bedre rabatter. Se hele programmet og tilmeld dig konferencen.

På gensyn den 11. november.


Meet the Danish Minister for Economic Affairs and the Interior at Stagis' conference Kommunebranding14 November 11. Learn more about the program and the others speakers at Kommunebranding14.

Back to the roots?

Det danske Hedeselskab (literally: "the Danish Heath Society"), an association whose commercial green sector activities generate an annual turnover of more than 2 billion DKK, has asked Stagis to help develop and revitalize its brand. First thing we did was to conduct an ethnographic mapping of the organizational identity of Hedeselskabet in order to establish an extensive knowledge base from which to develop the future brand strategy and visual identity of the association. 

Using organizational history as a short cut to reinventing the brand
Mapping the identities of businesses is an ever eye opening task. Our ethnographic exploration of the history, identity and practice of attests to the huge potential for present day strategy development that organizations may find by reflecting on their past.

The founding myth
Most Danes have heard about Enrico Mylius Dalgas and about Hedeselskabet. Many associate the two with the defeat in the war of 1864 (in which Denmark lost large areas of land in the southern part of Jutland to Prussia) and with the poetic lines:

”For hvert et tab igen erstatning findes; hvad udad tabtes, det må indad vindes.” (For every loss recovery may be found again; what was outwardly lost shall be inwardly gained”). 

For long these lines have been ascribed to Dalgas and, accordingly, his strong aspiration to cultivate the Danish heath has been seen as motivated by a nationalistic intent to recover the farmland lost in war. However, the lines were not written by Dalgas but by the poet H.P. Holst – and not until years after the founding of Hedeselskabet.

A model of the cultivation technique promoted by Hedeselskabet in order to recover the heath lands.

Serving a higher purpose
Dalgas indeed wished to recover and utilize the heath lands of Jutland by planting windbreaks and shelterbelts in order to create a milder climate and prepare the soil for cultivation and to this end he founded the association Det danske Hedeselskab. But while Dalgas’ agenda gained public momentum in the wake of the recent loss of farmland in the war, Dalgas was also – and perhaps even mainly – motivated by a concern for the hardship of the moorland peasants and by an urge to use modern, scientific knowledge in order to make farming easier and more effective and productive. Thus from the outset the activities of Hedeselskabet were scientifically and socially motivated – not merely economically. They served a higher purpose, so to speak - which might also explain why Hedeselskabet was founded as an association and not as a commercial company.

A share in one of the planting companies of Hedeselskabet. At the right a small plaster sculpture of Enrico Mylius Dalgas, founder of Hedeselskabet.

Current activities
Today Hedeselskabet is still organised as an association. By paying an annual membership fee everyone who wish so may become a member and thus influence how – and by whom – the association and its businesses are run. The association has full ownership of several ”green sector” companies with a total annual turnover above 2 billions DKK. In line with the history and tradition of the organization the companies – the largest of these being HedeDanmark and Orbicon – offer their service and advice in relation to nature, climate and energy issues.

Looking for a purpose
However, while the business aspect of Hedeselskabet is doing good and growing steadily, the association – which started it all – could profit from a revitalization. As part of the ethnographic mapping of Hedeselskabet we have conducted multiple in-depth interviews with staff, management and members of the association and its executive committee. The interviews show a longing for a more clearly defined purpose and direction for the future activities of the association – and a longing for communicating better and more effectively with the outside world. Thus, it might be fruitful to revisit the original purpose of the association.

The line of CEOs who have been in charge of Hedeselskabet through the last 148 years.

A new beginning?
Our interviews show that Hedeselskabet has a huge potential for reinventing itself by revisiting its own organizational history and heritage. The association started out with a public call for aid in support of the noble cause of recovering the Danish heath lands in order to ameliorate the lives of the small time peasants and ensuring the food production of the country. With the recent appointment of Lars Johansson as CEO, Hedeselskabet yet again finds itself with an engineer officer at the helm (Enrico Mylius Dalgas was trained as an engineer officer in the Danish armed forces in the 1850’es and he worked as a highway engineer for a large part of his life). Thus in several ways, today seems an apt time for Hedeselskabet to make a new beginning and reinvent itself in the eyes of the public.

Developing brand strategy and new visual identity
At the heart of the authentic identity of Hedeselskabet lie the aspiration, the will and the skills to work for a cause of common good. The interviews we have conducted shows that this aspiration is still very much alive today – and is widely shared among employees, members and management of Hedeselskabet. Next step, then, is to translate this strong, and historically founded aspiration into a common, contemporary vision of common good. We at Stagis look forward to partake in developing a new brand strategy and visual identity for Hedeselskabet and thus help the association and its subsidiary companies to create value for its members, customers and for society at large.


Tilbage til rødderne?
Stagis er blevet bedt om at hjælpe Det danske Hedeselskab med at revitalisere forening og forretning ved at udvikle ny brandstrategi og visual identitet. Hedeselskabet er en forening med ejerskab over flere virksomheder, der indenfor forretningsområderne natur, miljø og energi har en årlig omsætning på over 2 mia. kroner. Stagis’ første skridt i udviklingen af Hedeselskabets brand var en kortlægning af foreningens autentiske identitet  - og her viste det sig, at der findes et stort potentiale for strategisk udvikling i at genbesøge foreningens historie og oprindelige formål.

New Project Coordinator at Stagis

When helping organizations to develop succesful and authentic brands, the three main disciplins, that we work with here at Stagis, are communication, culture and design. To help our customers to see, live and express their authentic strengths, we are always looking for new talents. This Spring we have found Maria - the second of our two new young talents - who shall help us strenghten our Communications and PR efforts. Please welcome Maria Frimann Birch Nielsen, our new Project Coordinator.

Our new Project Coordinator Maria Frimann Birch Nielsen

In addition to the Stagis identity proces, and the methods which Nikolaj has developed in his book Den autentiske virksomhed, Maria will here at Stagis be working with coordinating communications- and branding projects to help even more organizations to become succesful and authentic. Maria will be working with both private and public clients and will also participate in coordinating Stagis’ large conference kommunebranding14, which takes place November 11 at Dansk Erhverv on Børsen here in Copenhagen.

Maria comes with a background as junior consultant at a PR Agency, from where she holds a great experience in working with Public Relations and marketing and in advising on organizational communication, both in a business-to-business and a business-to-consumer perspective. Maria studies Master of Science in Business Administration and Organizational Communication at Copenhagen Business School. Her main focus here is in PR and Marketing Campaigns.

We hope, that you will welcome Maria.


I foråret, hvor jagten var sat ind på at finde to nye kommunikationstalenter fandt vi frem til Maria Frimann Birch Nielsen, der som Project Coordinator nu også er en del af Stagis-teamet. Maria har arbejdet på et PR-bureau, hvor hun har rådgivet om og beskæftiget sig med disciplinerne PR, kommunikation og marketing. Når Maria ikke løser opgaver hos Stagis, læser hun PR og marketing på Cand.Merc.(Kom.)CBS. Vi håber, at I vil tage godt imod Maria!

Lejre gjorde visionen til virkelighed

“Vi vil være en kommune med kant”. Så klar var udmeldingen fra Lejre Kommunes borgmester Mette Touborg i 2011, hvor Lejre Kommune satte ord på sin vision. Kursen mod at skabe et sundt samfund, et sundt miljø og en sund økonomi med økologien som vækstmotor var sat. Tre år senere er dét, der startede som et spirende potentiale, takket være en gennemgribende indsats med at få økologien ud i alle kroge af kommunen, blevet en realitet.

Lejre Kommune satte sig i 2011 for at blive kendt som Den økologiske kommune. Tre år efter har de slået positionen som hovedstadens økologiske forhave fast med syvtommersøm.

Lejre Kommune satte et mål om at gøre Lejre til en attraktiv kommune at bo og arbejde i, at producere kvalitetsfødevarer og at beskytte natur, klima og drikkevand. Og mens mange visioner aldrig formår at løfte sig fra det papir, de er skrevet på, har “Den økologiske kommune” rodfæstet sig i den midtsjællandske muld. Når projektet er lykkedes så godt, som tilfældet er, så skyldes det, at både borgere, landbruget og det øvrige erhvevsliv fra begyndelsen har engageret sig og været med til at drive den økologiske udvikling fremad. Og at man i Lejre Kommune har turde sætte en kurs og holde fast i den.

Lånehøns og nyttehaver drev væksten
Blandt kommunens borgere er der iværksat flere private øko-initiativer bl.a. fødevareforeningen Lejre Økologiske Fødevarefællesskab, en hønseholds-låneordning og økologiske havearrangementer.
Det lokale erhvervsliv har heller ikke været sene til at gribe projektet. Lejre Kommune har i dag det relativt højeste økologiareal i Region Sjælland, og i løbet af projektperioden er der i kommunen åbnet bl.a. en bager, et hønseri, et spisehus og et delikatessemarked – alle med en økologiske profil.

Tidlig involvering
Programleder i Lejre Kommune Tina Unger har netop haft fokus på, hvordan flest mulige i Lejre Kommune involveres i projektet:

“Vi har lagt mange kræfter i at invitere til at “Den økologiske kommune” skulle være en fælles agenda for alle i Lejre Kommune. Jeg er ikke i tvivl om, at tidlig involvering af borgere og erhvervsliv har været helt afgørende for projektets succes.

”Den økologiske tankegang bliver brugt som løftestang for både udvikling og vækst i kommunen. Lejre Kommunes borgmester, Mette Touborg, fortæller: “I Lejre Kommune fandtes et uudnyttet potentiale i at bruge økologi som vækstmotor for en langsigtet udvikling af vores samfund – vi valgte at udnytte potentialet.”

Tydelige resultater
Resultaterne er tydelige. For blot at nævne et par stykker er kommunens samlede fødevareindkøb gået fra at være 17% økologisk ved projektstart til nu at være 59% økologisk. Der er iværksat grøn kompetenceopbygning af kommunens virksomhedskonsulenter, skolelærere og pædagoger tilbydes naturkurser, og flere initiativer omkring omlægning af kommunale arealer til økologisk eller bæredygtig drift er i gang.

Inger Marie Vynne, kommunaldirektør i Lejre Kommune, spiller en væsentlig rolle i forhold til at give de politiske visioner og strategier liv, så de kan mærkes i dagligdagen af borgerne, erhvervslivet og i kommunens administration.

”Det handler om hele tiden at have fokus på muligheder frem for begrænsninger. For at mig at se er ”Den økologiske kommune” et eksempel på, hvordan en ambitiøs politisk vision kan bruges til at styrke en hel organisation i forhold til at blive bedre til tværgående samarbejde og have fokus på et fælles mål. Der findes ikke nogen nemme løsninger, når det handler om at skabe forandring. Det kræver at
man tør engagere sig fuldt og fast i at føre sin vision ud i livet.”

Mød de tre kommunale drivkræfter på Kommunebranding14
Kommunebranding14 kan du opleve Lejre Kommunes borgmester Mette Touborg i selskab med kommunaldirektør Inger Marie Vynne og programleder Tina Unger. De tre har på hver deres måde bidraget til, at visionen om "Lejre - Den økologiske kommune" har fået liv blandt borgere, erhvervsliv og internt i den kommunale administration.


Back in 2011, The Municipality of Lejre managed to put its vision into words. This enabled a direction for creating a healthy community and environment and a economy with ecology as its main driver. Today, three years after, this great potential has become a reality.

The Municipality of Lejre sat a goal to make the municipality an attractive place to live and work and create an attractive place to produce high quality food products while protecting the nature and evironment. Three years later the Municipality of Lejre has succeeded to establish itself as “The Municipality of Ecology”. The only reason to this success is the high engagement from the citizens, the agriculture and the business community. Thanks to these, The Municipality of Lejre has succeeded in setting a direction and a goal and sticking to this.

New communication talent at stagis

When building brands and creating authentic corporate identities, communication is - besides culture and design - one of the three key disciplines here at Stagis. We are always looking for new talents and this Spring we have not only found one - but two - young talents to help strenghten our Communications and PR efforts. Please welcome Sigrid Ellegaard Foged who has just started as one of our two new Project Coordinators.

Our new Project Coordinator Sigrid Ellegaard Foged.

Sigrid will be working with the Stagis identity proces, and the methods which Nikolaj has developed in his book Den autentiske virksomhed.

With a background from Rambøll in Odense Sigrid has worked with background briefings and reports to use when participating in public procurements, and thus holds experience in conducting research on complex issues and conveying them to a broader audience. Sigrid studies Master of Arts, International Business Communication at University of Southern Denmark.

During the Fall Sigrid will be planning Stagis’ large conference, which takes place November 11 at Dansk Erhverv on Børsen here in Copenhagen. Her main responsibilities will be research on speakers and cases, PR activities and project coordination. When Sigrid is not working on Kommunebranding14, she will help both our private and public clients.  

We hope, that you will welcome Sigrid.


I foråret gik det løs med tests og samtaler med en række dygtige unge mennesker, for jagten var sat ind på at finde to nye kommunikationstalenter. Den ene, vi fandt frem til, er Sigrid Ellegaard Foged, som nu er en del af Stagis-holdet som Project Coordinator. Sigrid kommer fra et job hos Rambøll i Odense, hvor hun bl.a. har udarbejdet komplekse baggrundsnotater til brug for offentlige udbud. Sigrid læser Cand. Mag. i International Virksomhedskommunikation på Syddansk Universitet.  Vi håber, at I vil tage godt imod hende!

New CVI reflects ambitions and a world of dilemmas

CBS master programme Master of Public Administration (MPA) contacted Stagis because they needed a new, more clear and modern corporate visual identity.

The programme targets ambitious leaders in the public sector, who acts in a complex reality. This requires a complex set of tools, which MPA offers their participants.

Management with a wide perspective
MPA participants and public leaders in general deal with a wide range of challenges in an everyday, where there is no black or white. There is a constant presence of dilemmas to deal with and rarely no right answers.

Demands for results are constantly growing, while savings in the public sector are constantly launched. The participants of MPA are required to have a wide perspective, strategic skills at the highest level -  and most important the wish to make a change in this world.   

Stagis developed a new visual identity using a clear blue colour as a base. The colour signals ambitions and a "business" mindset.

We used the dilemmas from the present public debate as platform for the campaign. The campaigns display issues from the public sector seen from different angles, and they invite for further discussion.

The blue MPA universe presents a world of dilemmas, where one object can be interpreted in two very different ways. E.g. the baby pig which can be read as a source of pollution or a source for job creation depending on the eye that sees.  

Public leaders are a very diverse target group, and the illustrations invite the leaders to reflect over what they see. E.g. the brick illustration can be perceived as potential trouble at Nørrebro if you are a police officer - or it can be seen as building material for city renewal if you work within the construction and engineering management.

The new campaign for MPA presents the dilemmas of the public sector and shows the faces of the many enthusiastic leaders. Many of these leaders use their ambition to try and create a better future for the public Denmark.

The new identity encourages the public leaders to use their own ambitions to lead the way and create a new and better future for the public Denmark. This is boiled down in our suggestion for a new pay off called: Din Ambition. Danmarks fremtid. (“your ambition - the future of Denmark”).  


Stagis har udviklet ny corporate visual identity (CVI) for masterprogrammet Master of Public Administration på CBS. Masteren er målrettet ambitiøse offentlige ledere, som ønsker at gøre en forskel for samfundet. Vi byggede et blåt univers op, hvor illustrationer, som kan forstås på to vidt forskellige måder, er centrale elementer. Fx baby-grisen, som både kan være kilde til forurening, men også kan være en jobskaber.