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Making the past present: Implementing authentic strengths in Hedeselskabet's brand

Hedeselskabet has revitalised its brand by uncovering its authentic identity and implementing their new purpose and identity throughout the organization. Hedeselskabets businesses already generates an annual turnover of more than 2 billion DKK, but by identifying the companys brand essence, Stagis will help Hedeselskabet develop customer value, attract employees, attract new members to their association and grow more.

Stagis used aerial photography to capture the marks that Hedeselskabet has created in the landscape in the past 149 years. The images transcends landscapes then and now and reminds us of their purpose; "setting good marks in the landscape".

Times are a changin’
The last time Hedeselskabets design got an overhaul was in 1984. Hedeselskabet's old logo was designed by the famous Danish designer Per Mollerup. Over the past months it was redesigned by Stagis to mirror Hedeselskabet's authentic identity; who they are in 2015.
Hedeselskabet's old logo and the new redesigned version. The lines have been made sleeker and more modern. The new symbol is lighter in form; expressing Hedeselskabet's focus on innovation by lifting the upper part from the horizon line.

Established in 1866, Hedeselskabet’s original purpose has been achieved a long time ago. In English, its name translates to The Heath Company, and indeed, its first objective was to cultivate the heath as an association of likeminded individuals. A roadway engineer, Enrico Dalgas, wanted to help the peasants and formed the association Hedeselskabet to use knowledge to cultivate the heath, which at the time was poor farm land. With innovative knowledge and farming techniques, the heath was turned into farm land and yielded crops and forests, which we can enjoy today. 

Hedselskabet later grew into a corporation, whose commercial activities are split into four segments: Green Service and Trade, Consul­tancy, Energy Plants and Forest Ownership. The corporation has four subsidiaries that mainly operate in green industry and innovation: HedeDanmark does green service and trade; Orbicon provides environmental and municipal engineering consultancy; Xergi operate landfill gas and biogas plants; and finally, Hedeselskabet Forest Ownership covers Hedeselskabet's own forest properties and plantations.
Hedeselskabet and the fields that its subsidiaries are involved in. New naming and symbols designed by Stagis for the digital communication and the annual report.

The now 149-year-old association Hedeselskabet has a longstanding culture of implementing and supporting development and research projects within the areas of nature, environment and energy. Making effective use of natural resources, Hedeselskabet actively works to improve the living conditions of people in rural areas. Another aspect of Hedeselskabet that has remained since its foundation, is its strong roots as an association. In our work, we have refocused on Hedeselskabet as an association rather than expressing the four subsiduaries.

Expressed in a single sentence, Hedeselskabet's brand essence can be distilled into: Green innovation since 1866. It encompasses the work that Enrico Dalgas did in 1866, and the work that Hedeselskabet continues to do to this day.

Hedeselskabet headquarters in Viborg.

Uncovering stren
gths to develop an authentic identity
As part of the authenticity mapping, Stagis conducted a mapping of the organizations authentic identity by using anthropological research methods, observation as well as in-depth interviews with staff, management, members of the association and Hedeselskabet's executive committee. A number of authentic strengths were established on the basis of three dimensions of authenticity that were developed by Nikolaj Stagis: Heritage Authenticity, Reflexive Authenticity and Expressive Authenticity. The historical dimension is an organisation’s heritage, historical characteristics and original purpose; the reflexive is an organisation’s future purpose (vision), integrity and actions; and lastly, the expressive is an organisation’s expression, ability to relate and passion. From these Stagis drew Hedeselskabet's authentic strengths and conceptualised a vision for the future of the 149-year-old association. As such, the strengths serve as a base for understanding future development, be it strategic or visual projects. The mapping of authenticity is a tool for innovation.

The point of uncovering Hedeselskabet’s authentic strengths was to strategically guide top management decisions. The primary focus of the decision making for the executive committee in the fall and winter of 2014 was to reframe and decide a clearer direction and purpose for the entire organization. With Stagis at the helm, branding is not just for commercial communication and messaging, it permeates the entire organisation. The process requires great cooperation between analysts, designers and communicators. Since the finished product is a combination of the three fields, it stands to reason that they are dependant on each other, if they are to make a successful product.
Enrico Mylius Dalgas was a Danish engineer who pioneered the land amelioration of Jutland and founded Hedeselskabet in 1866. His innovative and entrepreneurial spirit  inspires many to this day.

Authentic strengths equate identity

Stagis has formulated Hedeselskabet's five authentic strengths: a common cause, nature (and the good tracks left behind), their association-culture, knowledge & tangibility and its history. These function as the backdrop to which all of Hedeselskabet’s projects function.

  1. To unite around a common cause. Enrico Dalgas, Hedeselskabet’s founder, was motivated to improve the living conditions of the moorland peasants, who worked the heath, but also to advance technology for the betterment of Denmark and all mankind.
  2. Nature (setting good tracks in nature). The strength testifies to Hedeselskabet’s close relationship to both the wild and cultivated nature, and also to Hedeselskabet’s activeness in using, utilising and conserving nature.
  3. Democratic association that emphasises networking. A feature that repeats itself throughout the entirety of the organisation, binding it together.
  4. Knowledge & tangibility that is comprised by a combination of natural science and practices. In this cross field, innovation and implementation are central.
  5. Hedeselskabet's history. The museum, values, the fact that it has existed since 1866 and HRH Queen Margrethe’s protectorate testifies to the importance of Hedeselskabet for Denmark's development.

Between association and corporation
Within Hedeselskabet there is an inherent dualism, which the brand should encompass. It's part corporation and part association. By clearly separating the two parts, yet leaving room for them to mirror each other, a more authentic identity was uncovered. By uniting the corporation’s use of technology and innovation with the social cohesion of the association, Hedeselskabet could convey its inherent complexities.

Hedeselskabet's brand spans distinct traits of character that can seem to be opposed, yet make up the complex and venerable association. Simultaneously, the association is made up of history and future, tradition and innovation, nature and humans.

Hedeselskabet's brand follows through in their design; clearly marked by a divide between nature and people, wild vs. cultivated nature, activity vs. nature.

The style of the photos range from close-ups of details (sometimes scientific) to landscape photos that capture the scale of the changes Hedeselskabet creates.

Nowhere is the dualism more evident than in Hedeselskabet's periodical, Vækst (meaning: Growth). The first edition was published in 1879. The purpose of the new edition is to mediate knowledge between experts and practitioners, and on the basis of Stagis' 2014 study among the members of the association and other readers, strengthen the profile of the magazine. Now, it feels more like a modern magazine; from paper thickness and volume to the in-depth articles and the visual design Stagis has developed.
Examples of the visual guidelines of Hedeselskabet's periodical 'Vækst'.

The annual report provides the reader with the specific numbers of the business, but also gives a visual and tactile feel of what those numbers mean. The dualism of the physical world and abstract knowledge runs throughout the report.

Layout and photography from the annual report 2014 designed and produced by Stagis.

Hedeselskabet's online identity uses a number of visual cues that tie in its authentic strengths.

lanning for the future
Hedeselskabet’s authentic strengths can be summed up in the payoff  “Green innovation since 1866”. The sentence reflects the historical perspective and their green and knowledge-based approach. The payoff lifts Hedeselskabet from being a very heritage-focused organization to becoming an organization that balances commerce with purpose. As such, it is a strategy that mirrors the complexity of the association – between the wild and the cultivated nature and between theoreticians and practitioners.
Hedeselskabet's authentic identity can be incorporated into every aspect of the association, so that the employees will be able to use it for years to come. Here, infographics from the annual report that use nature to express numbers in different, creative, graphical ways.

Stagis continues to implement Hedeselskabet’s visual identity into their projects, and we will showcase more of our work here on the blog in the months to come.

Ultimately, Stagis has helped Hedeselskabet create cultural changes, become more skilled and better in their expression of their corporate identity and ultimately develop as a business and association. Because in a world where companies and associations are constantly challenged to develop, a 149 year old association needs a helping hand to plan for the future, and ensure economic growth for the next 149 years to come.


Stagis har hjulpet Hedeselskabet med at finde dets autentiske styrker. Ved at bruge antropologisk metode har vi fundet frem til fem styrker, der kendetegner Hedeselskabet: sagen, naturen (de gode spor), foreningen, viden, håndgribelighed og historiens vingesus. Disse udgør fundamentet for Hedeselskabets fremtidige projekter. Stagis har også hjulpet med at implementere styrkerne, så blandt andet deres website, magasin, foldere og årsrapport alle følger den samme designmæssige linie, der tager udgangspunkt i strategien. På den måde vil Stagis hjælpe Hedeselskabet med at udvikle sig, blive dygtigere til at kommunikere dets identitet og skabe økonomisk vækst. Over det næste stykke tid vil vi vise flere af de produkter, som vi hjælper Hedeselskabet med at udvikle.

Ny designer med digital erfaring – mød Torben Slothuus

Torben Slothuus er begyndt som grafisk designer i Stagis. Torben har en alsidig baggrund og skal udvikle visuelle brands, kampagner og digitale løsninger. Han har erfaring med at drive et designprojekt fra brief og indsigter i virksomhedens behov over udviklingsfasen til færdiggørelse, produktion og programmering. Hans kompetencer ligger i forlængelse af Stagis’ behov for at kunne skabe løsninger på alle strategiske niveauer og hjælpe kunder med alt fra deres visuelle identitet til individuelle projekter.

Torben er uddannet fra designskolen KADK, hvor han specialiserede sig i visuelle identiteter. Under sin uddannelse arbejdede han hos 2+1 Idébureau. Her udviklede han brand identiteter for blandt andet arkitektfirmaet CCO og den erhvervsdrivende forening Realdania. Hos CCO udviklede han logoer, prevpapir, visitkort, udbudsmateriale, labels, præsentationsmateriale. Og hos Realdania skabte han både digitale og printløsninger blandt andet til kampagnen ”fra vand til vækst”. Torben har også designet en t-shirt kollektion, Strokes, der er inspireret af 90’er hiphop og et simpelt design. Til organisationen Teach First Danmark, der arbejder for at bryde negativ social arv i folkeskolen, har han blandt andet udviklet visuel identitet, websites, kampagnemateriale og eventmateriale. Senest kommer han fra en stilling hos Novasa som Digital Designer, hvor han designede mobile apps, UX og visuelle identiteter for Rema1000 og Rigshospitalet.

Torben har en konceptuel tilgang til det visuelle:
"Det skal ikke bare være pænt - der skal være et koncept og altså være båret af en gennemgående idé. Det er vigtigt at udtrykke et firmas værdier fremfor at  lave noget, der er moderne. Designet skal faktisk passe til kunden. Dog har kunden tit en masse ord om sig selv, som de ikke kan omsætte til billeder – det kan jeg hjælpe med," som Torben formulerer det.

Hos Stagis skal Torben blandt andet udvikle visuelle identiteter, og vi glæder os alle til at arbejde sammen med den arbejdsomme sønderjyde.

Torben Slothuus has joined the Stagis team as Graphic Designer. His versatile background makes him an ideal candidate for creating visual identities. He has worked in a broad range of fields: developed apps, UX, print solutions, campaigns and much more. At Stagis, Torben will use his resourceful skillset to visually elevate organisation.

Kan kommunerne brande sig til flere borgere?

Et kig i spåkuglen fortæller om øget flytning fra land til by. Når kommuner skal tiltrække borgere, turister og erhverv, er det ikke nok at lave reklamer. God place branding bør have indflydelse i hele den kommunale organisation.

Kommunebranding er blandt temaerne, når Kommunernes Landsforening (KL) til oktober slår dørene op til et helt døgn i kommunekommunikationens tegn. Vi er et par kollegaer fra Stagis, som skal stå for en workshop i løbet af Kommunikationsdøgnet, hvor de deltagende kommuner lærer, hvordan de skal gribe en branding-proces an.

KL's Kommunikationsdøgn henvender sig til kommunale kommunikations- og pressechefer, kommunikationskonsulenter, pressemedarbejdere samt ledere og medarbejdere med udvikling, kommunikation, web og HR som arbejdsfelt.

Branding er mere end et slogan
Stagis har udviklet visioner og strategier for kommuner som Varde og Kolding. Her har det været vigtigt ikke bare at udtænke et slogan, men at lade strategien udspringe af kommunernes autentiske styrker og sørge for, at hele organisationen ser, lever og udtrykker styrkerne. Samtidig har strategierne taget udgangspunkt en grundig kortlægning og analyse, som har mundet ud i borgerinddragende beslutningsgange.

Kommunikationsdøgnets deltagere skal lære, hvordan de griber en branding-proces an, og hvorfor det ikke er nok for eksempel at være en grøn kommune ligesom alle de andre.

Mange kommuners visioner er nemlig for generiske til at tjene det formål, de er sat i verden for at opfylde; nemlig at hjælpe kommunen til at nå sine mål.

Kommuners unikke identitet

En kommune er en juridisk størrelse for de fleste, og selvom det på latin betyder fællesskab, har de mange kommunesammenlægninger ikke gjort det nemmere at lave en samlende identitet for medarbejderne i de 98 rådhuse. Derfor bliver kommunernes visioner ofte meget generiske og møntet på en demografisk gruppe som for eksempel børnefamilier.

Her hos Stagis mener vi i stedet, at kommunerne skal holde op med at skyde med spredehagl og i stedet fokusere på, hvad der gør dem unikke. Det kan føles farligt, fordi man med den metode ikke rammer alle potentielle tilflyttere, turister og erhvervsliv. Omvendt virker den trygge metode ikke.

Vardes vision bliver udlevet i hele kommunen
Vi har for eksempel arbejdet med Varde Kommune, hvor visionen tager sit udganspunkt i den smukke og særegne natur. Det, der gør visionen særligt god, er, at den har indflydelse på, hvordan alle dele af kommunen arbejder.

Mange kommuner markedsfører sig på at have en skøn natur, og Varde Kommune er oven i købet en af de få, der med nationalpark og verdensnaturarv rent faktisk har papir på at have en natur, der skiller sig ud fra mængden. Men det er ikke nok. Kommunens fremtid bygges på det unikke bånd til naturen og det skarpe fokus på en fortsat udvikling af den måde, man anvender naturen på, lader sig inspirere af naturen på og måden man lever et liv i og med naturen på.

Visionens pejlemærker er udeskoler i verdensklasse; plejecentre, hvor ældre hver dag kommer ud i naturen; børnehaver med dyrehold og et rådhus med egen køkkenhave. Det er også et innovativt fokus på bionisk produktudvikling; biomimetik i arkitektur- og byggeanlæg; udendørs billedkunst og kunstinstallationer og en turistsæson, der strækker sig over hele året - for slet ikke at nævne det nye Varde Museum, som bliver bygget af BIG med udgangspunkt i en bunker.

Tag udgangspunkt i livsstil
Nogle af de byer, som har taget udgangspunkt i livsstil frem for demografi er Lejre og Billund, som fokuserer på henholdsvis økologi og gode forhold til børn. Mens Billunds fokus tager sit udgangspunkt i LEGOs placering i byen, har Lejre udviklet sin vision fra bunden og haft stor succes med at tiltrække tilflyttere med sit fokus på bæredygtig livsstil.

Da Stagis arbejdede med at udvikle Kolding Kommunes vision for et par år siden, blev den udviklet på baggrund af borgerinddragelse. "Kolding designer livet" handler selvfølgelig om byens designskole, museet Trapholt og de mange designvirksomheder i området, men det handler ligesom i Varde om, at visionen har indflydelse på, hvordan kommunen løser udfordringer.

Workshop på Kommunikationsdøgnet i Korsør

Vi glæder os til at byde landets kommuners kommunikationskonsulenter velkommen til workshop, når Kommunikationsdøgnet løber af stablen i Korsør den 29.-30. oktober. Du kan læse mere om konferencen her og se det foreløbige program her.


In October, Nikolaj Stagis along with his team are going to facilitate a workshop about place branding with communications consultants from all of Denmark's 98 municipalities.

What will make men eat more healthy?

I met Jeff a few years back in his hometown of Carson City, a suburb just south of Los Angeles. A big fellow, whose wife wanted him to eat healthier. So Jeff gave up on soda and changed his breakfast staple from Cookie Crisp to Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. He certainly didn’t care too much about health, or as Jeff put it “there is something odd about skinny men.”

I met Jeff during my work for a global beverage company. I identified unmet needs for health related beverage products with American consumers. On the surface, Jeff didn’t leave much hope for finding any needs for healthy products. Until we passed a Jamba Juice on the way back from Thanksgiving-shopping at Costco. Jeff loves Jamba Juice and with the jumbo-sized juice in hand, he began to talk with great enthusiasm about how “it fills me with power and gives me energy." Jeff thought the jumbo-sized juice revitalized him, just not in the traditional, scientific way.

Jeff is not alone. Men in Denmark eat less healthy then women and are also less concerned with eating healthy. The question is what to do about it. One strategy employed in the Nordic countries is to label products with a “healthier choice” sticker, know as the Nøglehulsmærket (translated: the keyhole symbol. Seen below). This is done in an effort to make people aware of the healthiest products.

But this hasn't worked. So perhaps, it's time to look at the problem from a different angle.

How a brand can guide

Used in Denmark since 2009 and enforced by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, Nøglehulsmærket makes the consumer’s health conscious choice simpler. It does the job of simplifying the nutritional label for the consumer, so that they don’t have to. But so far, it hasn’t worked with men. A 2014 survey showed that while 92 percent of men know of Nøglehulsmærket, only 32 percent will eventually buy products with the little green sticker on it. And it should be noted that these numbers include the group who answered that they only buy the products ‘to a certain degree’. It seems the problem is not that “a healthier choice” is too difficult. Rather, it’s simply not attractive. The problem is that men don’t necessarily want the healthy choice that Nøglehulsmærket offers: only 28 percent of men, as opposed to 45 percent of women, say that they often strive to eat healthy.

By making a healthy choice attractive and simple, we can help consumers choose according to their needs. One of the ways that this can be achieved, is by focusing on the target audience’s world, instead of the sender’s world. This entails looking at the needs of the target consumer - men. Then, focus should be on men’s needs - and not the needs of those, who want men to eat healthy – because while we might think men like Jeff need to eat healthier, we don’t recognize the needs of Jeff.

The needs of the consumer

In the world of consumer needs, there is a distinction between articulated needs and unarticulated needs. The problem with simple articulated needs is that they often are shallow and misleading, case in point: A 2013 study, where researchers went to a McDonald’s and asked people, if they would like wholemeal burger buns on the menu. The DTU researchers were astounded that 61% of the customers answered yes to wholemeal burger buns. The articulated need for a healthier, wholemeal product was prominent. But when customers were presented with the actual choice of buying a wholemeal burger, only 5% chose to do so, and when directly prompted by the cashier, 15% chose the wholemeal option.

On the other hand, unarticulated needs can be a gateway to creating emotional relationships. One way of creating this personal depth is through a physical representation of the brand and making an attractive brand universe. An attractive brand universe is made up of its history, value, yield, comprehension and identification. In contrast, Nøglehulsmærket's universe is technical and doesn't have the depth of other FMCG brands. Ask people about how organic products are different than other products and they’ll tell you stories about happy sun-loving cows, carrots that taste better and meatier meat.

The key to changing the behavior of the Jeffs of the world is not to focus on something they don’t care about, but to help them do what they want. We need to understand their world and understand their understanding of why they do as they do. In my experience that is what the social sciences at attuned to do, gaining a deep understanding of the everyday life of people like Jeff.

Jeff might not care about healthy food, but he does care about wellbeing, about energy, about meals, and about a hundred other things that has to do with the traditional view of healthy eating. But asking him directly about healthy food and he’ll tell you “there is something odd about skinny men.”

Nøglehulsmærket must focus on men’s unarticulated needs to make health attractive to men. Thus, Nøglehulsmærket will become a brand that provides value for men, when they coose food.


Mænd spiser mere usundt end kvinder – men hvorfor? Nøglehulsmærket prøver at informere om det sunde valg, men det virker ikke. Til trods for at 92% kender til fordelene forbundet med Nøglehulsmærket, så er det kun 32%, der køber produktet, og her tælles dem med, der kun køber produktet i ”nogen grad”. Derfor er man nødt til at se på problemet med friske øjne og undersøge hvad mænd faktisk har behov for. Hvis man fokuserer på kundens behov og ikke producentens, kan man sælge til behovet.

Hjælp Stagis med at udvikle Kommunebranding15

Kommunebranding bliver holdt i efteråret, og vi vil gerne have din hjælp til at udvikle det.

Vi har tidligere udfordret kommuner og virksomheder med at skille sig ud fra mængden. Og i 2014 var næsten halvdelen af landets kommuner og en række private organisationer  mødt op til en dag fuld af inspiration. Dagen handlede om at transformere kommuners visioner til realitet. Og da vi sendte spørgeskemaer ud, svarede over 86 % af respondenterne, at den samlede oplevelse var enten ”meget positiv” eller ”positiv”.

Kommunebranding finder sted årligt og har eksisteret siden 2013. Den har tidligere budt på talere som brandingguruen Wally Olins, seniorforsker i place branding Erik Braun, professor Gregory Ashworth og økonomi- og indenrigsminister Morten Østergaard. Og så har den et stærkt fokus på den praktiske del af place branding i form af konkrete cases. Deltagerne har de seneste år lært om Bornholm, som efter Folkemødet er blevet meget mere end rundkirker og røgede sild. Lejre, der har formået at tiltrække nye borgere med et stærkt fokus på økologi. Varde som med hjælp fra Stagis har formuleret en vision, som forholder sig til den smukke natur og lader den få indflydelse på alt fra børnehaver til museer. Og Cold Hawaii, som er er græsrodsprojekt, der har sat Klitmøller på den anden ende.

Vi vil meget gerne have dine input med os, mens vi udvikler konferencen. Hvem vil du gerne høre, hvilke cases vil du lære af, hvilken form skal konferencen have?

Spørgeskemaet er kort - det er kun tre spørgsmål - vi ville meget gerne høre dit input


Stagis is developing Kommunebranding15. We’d love to hear your thoughts on our conference this autumn, which is about place branding. Previously, we’ve helped municipalities and businesses stand out from the crowd and how municipalities could transform their visions into reality - this year, you decide what the conference should be about.

The questionnaire consists of three questions - we look forward to read your input.

Nikolaj Stagis at Uffindell

Nikolaj Stagis will share his insights into authenticity and branding on Friday 29th May 1pm-2pm in London at Uffindell's event The Catalyst Club.
Uffindell is an international brand agency with offices in London and New York. With customers from the ranks of HSBC, British Computer Society and Jaguar, Uffindell is well established for its excellence.

On Uffindell’s website, it’s argued that businesses are increasingly looking to define their purpose beyond financial profit. Today it matters how you make your money. An organisation’s values and behaviours are more vital than ever. Subsequently, Uffindell, as well as Stagis, recognise the need to build authentic brand platforms and conscious cultures on which to create competitive advantage

People’s attitudes and motivations have changed. Customers now demand authenticity. As a consequence hereof, new business models are needed.

The Catalyst Club

As a quasi-monthly event, Uffindell have since July 2013 held The Catalyst Club, where people with a passion and a point of view get to express it. To Uffindell, it’s an opportunity to stay connected to the world outside, to nurture connections with their broader community, to stay interesting and to take every opportunity to learn, share and grow.

Nikolaj will share some of his insights on how to formulate business strategy and brands by understanding the true identity of a company.

“We’ve become more sensitive and critical about the identities we meet. The more artificial and virtual our world is, the more we seek the authentic. Companies have to define what they stand for – what is the meaning and the identity that is going to drive the brand?“ – Nikolaj Stagis

The event is free, though they do ask that you drop a line to confirm so that they can cater accordingly.

When UngKom came to Stagis

Last Wednesday, UngKom (meaning: Young communicators) guested Stagis. The association is the youth division of the Kommunikationsforeningen (the association for communicators). UngKom had arranged a BureauCrawl (agency crawl), which entailed visiting two other agencies, before finishing of at Stagis.

Nikolaj Stagis used the opportunity to share his thoughts on the day-to-day life in an agency and Stagis’ branding methodology. Nikolaj talked about past and current clients, and he shared some of the secrets of the trade.

The rest of us pitched in, giving our individual take on what it takes to work in the industry. Since the participants were all students, a particular focus was given to the role of the intern, who (naturally) lauded the experience of interning at Stagis.

We spent the better part of the evening in the company of the aspiring communicators and have the pictures to prove it. We hope to repeat the success next year.

UngKom, ungdomsafdelingen af Kommunikationsforeningen, var på BureauCrawl. I den forbindelse lagde de vej forbi Stagis, der underholdte med indsigt i bureaulivet. Derefter diskede Stagis op med tapas, øl og networking. Vi håber at gentage succesen til næste år.

King of the social media hill

With Facebook's recent change in its algorithm to focus more on content made by friends, rather than content from pages, it seems that Facebook wants to reposition its claim as king of the social media hill. This is particularly evident with the exquisitely executed campaign, ”Friends”.

The campaign includes three ads broadcasted on TV called “Friends”. They were first aired on February 4th during a 2015 UEFA Champions League match. It also included outdoor billboards at Oxford Street station in London. The billboards are strikingly simple and cleanly art directed, with expressive snapshots of friends, overlaid with a checkmark, the word "friends" and a subtle Facebook logo as the only direct hint of the ads’ author.

Facebook’s friends

The “Friends” campaign was created by Facebook’s California based marketing department, The Factory. 

The Factory’s dreamteam of designers and ad execs reveal a company that spares no expense when it comes to marketing. But despite their (undoubtedly) unlimited means, the ads use gritty, immediate and powerfully evocative images that ground its message in relatable truths.

Its executive creative director Scott Trattner is the former ad exec at TBWA/Media Arts Lab, the agency that was established to serve Apple. From there, he launched major products like the iPhone, iPad, iTunes and iCloud. Since 2013, Trattner has worked at The Factory alongside Ms. Van Dyck, the former Levi's Global CMO, who joined the company in February 2012. Both report to Gary Briggs, the former chief marketer at the Google-aquired Motorola, who now leads all branding and marketing for Facebook.

The campaign’s narrative – images of friendships, people laughing and connecting, taking selfies, dancing, crying and even getting a tattoo of a friend’s name: CARL. A voiceover talks about friendship and uses Facebook’s lingo to describe it – “like”, “share” and “friend request”. But the terminology is used subtly: "They drag us into their madness, make us heroes in their stories," says the narrator. "So we let their likes become our likes, and the things they share become the things we share." The evocative language, yet self-affacing tone meshes with the relatable: real life experiences. It also represents the polar opposite of Facebook's old campaign, the pretentious “Chairs“ ad that uses lofty metaphors about something as simple as friendship.

I think the passion that stems from friendship is perfectly captured; particularly the few seconds in the car in “Our Friends” are evocative. The characters don’t have dialogue, yet convey heartfelt emotions. The casting and direction by MJZ’s and Mike Mills is phenomenal – collectively, they’ve created ads for Apple, Nike, Adidas, IKEA and more. In “Friends”, there are no all-American beauties, only quirky, one-of-a-kind looking people.

The three videos, “Our Friends”, “Friend Request” and, “Girl Friend” are accompanied by spare versions of Rihanna’s “Umbrella”, the Cure’s “Close to me” and Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”. Each builds crescendo and climaxes with tears, hugs and even a gay kiss.

The ads end by displaying the Facebook logo – nothing more. I think that requires courage and a strong brand to end a commercial like that; it's an iconic brand by now, and is finally acting like one.

From my experience, commercials like these, with this kind of color grading, style and overall production - not to mention the 34 person strong production team - equates to a highly professional and stylized campaign. Facebook went all in.

Up until now, word of mouth has done the heavy lifting for Facebook’s marketing department. Initially, the now 200 billion-dollar company successfully attracted first-movers, who in turn drew the broader public.

But as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media companies grow, Facebook’s stake is challenged.

Mark Zuckerberg’s company is (very) slowly losing its market share, and the “Friends” campaign can be seen as a response to this loss.

A recent survey shows that out of the eight biggest social media networks, Facebook was the only one in decline. While Pinterest and Tumblr saw activity increase by more than 95%, Facebook saw a decrease of 9%, according to GlobalWebIndex, a research firm that interviewed 170,000 Internet users across 32 markets for the survey.

That being said, Facebook is still by far the largest popular social network outside China – with the most members and active members. Internet users of all ages spend more time on social networks than ever – on an average, people used 1.72 hours per day in 2014, up from 1.61 hours in 2012. And 30% of our Internet time is spent solely on social networking.

Even though Facebook has lost some of its market share. We use social media more than ever. So perhaps, Facebook wants to remind its users why it exists.

The campaign is not about telling people that Facebook is an easy-to-use conduit for friendships, but rather that Facebook is a place where friendships live.

Such a claim takes courage.

Because it is easy to argue that Facebook is rooted in a digital, lonesome world – not outdoors with friends. But that misses the point of the ads - and perhaps what Facebook wants to position itself as.

Facebook is a place where people can hold on to the friends that are most important to them.

Perhaps the social media giant is trying to re-conquer their brand essence: moving towards meaningful friendships and away from the usual Facebook garbage, like Candycrush-invites and the like. Maybe, Facebook wants to reposition its claim as king of the sociale media hill.

Creating a brand that feels authentic is no easy measure. In 2014, Stagis helped Copenhagen Business School’s program, Master of Public Governance live and express their brand. By mapping and uncovering the university program’s identity, we helped them develop a striking visual design that corresponded to their unique strengths: flexibility, research-based knowledge of the public sector and development of leadership. By doing so, their brand was expressed authentically.

The “Friends” campaign could be Facebook’s authentic expression of its identity – or at the very least, what it wants to become.


Facebook har lanceret deres kampagne første kampagne i England. Den består af tre videoer og en række udendørs kampagne, der skal formidle Facebooks budskab: Facebook er stedet, hvor venskaber lever. Jeg kan fortælle, at kampagnen er udviklet af et drømmehold af designere og reklamefolk, og man kan tydeligt se, at der er blevet brugt tid og kræfter på den.

Kampagnen kommer efter, at Facebooks markedsandel er begyndt at dale som den eneste inden for sociale medier. Derfor kan man se denne kampagne som et forsøg på at markedsføre sig mere autentisk og på den måde overbevise deres brugere om, at Facebook er mere end bare Candy-Crush invitationer.

Why you should empower volunteers

In the 1990‘s, 25% of Danes did volunteer work. Today, that figure has increased to one in three. But as volunteers are increasingly used in both private and public sectors, we need to ask a question: what motivates volunteers - why would anyone work for free?

Most recently, Stagis helped Varde municipality create a vision for the future. Citizen involvement was instrumental in creating the vision. And because we told the citizens of Varde this, they responded with commitment and involvement, showing up in force, taking part.
I began my career as a volunteer. I first volunteered at Roskilde Festival working with international press, but was later hired as a press manager. And it's my yearly pleasure to work with some of the 32,000 wonderful volunteers who help make Northern Europe's largest festival.
I've also gotten a glimpse of what goes into a political campaign, as a field organizer on the 2012 Obama campaign in Ohio - but before you get you hopes up, I have to disappoint you+, US campaigns are not quite like in House of Cards.

The overall strategy came from Chicago, and I was charged with 50 volunteers. Making sure that they were happy and engaged, despite working for free.

Now, the common denominator for both the Roskilde Festival and Obama's campaign was that the volunteers didn't just work for free, they actually enjoyed it. The key: empowering volunteers and entrusting them with responsibility.

Since volunteers don’t get paid, you have to create value for them, or they become uninterested and leave - making a person feel needed is perhaps the greatest value of all.

Libraries and festivals
To cut costs, 68% of Danish libraries use volunteers. This har led to the paid librarians focusing on harder tasks that required skill and expertise, problematically volunteers are assigned menial tasks: stocking and checking in books - the boring parts of library work. Work they quickly got tired of.

And because the volunteer librarians don't feel needed, they don't stay for long and have to be replaced. This requires the training of new recruits and negates any return on investment.

So, although it has been estimated that there can be a return of more than four US dollars for every one US dollar invested in developing a volunteer training and management infrastructure, you have to retain volunteers for longer periods to reap the rewards. You do this by empowering them.

A poor investment leads to a poor return - and vice versa.
Roskilde Festival invests heavily in engaging their volunteers. They get initial training, there’s a special lounge to hang out at, they get free meals, flushing toilets and hot showers - a much appreciated luxury during the seven day festival.

There are different types of volunteers at Roskilde. Most of the volunteers are organized through various associations, sports clubs and restauarants and work 32 hours to gain a free festival ticket. The festival itself employs almost 1.000 volunteers who work year-round.

If you have ever been to Roskilde Festival, the first group are the volunteers you see walking around in orange vests or sell the food you buy. The latter group perform tasks that would normally would be held by paid employees: they plan how the festival site looks; book music, and as in my case work with communications. The volunteers I have worked with as press manager have been highly skilled and qualified; they have background ranging  from professional journalists, consultants from major press agencies to heads of communication in the private sector.

To put it mildy: They are given a a lot of responsibility.

For example: The first time I ran a PR-strategy at Roskilde as a 100-hour volunteer, I managed eight 100-hour volunteers and twenty-five 32-hour volunteers.

The crazy part: As a journalist, I knew about communications and the media world, but I had never run a PR strategy before. But, Roskilde instilled responsibility in me as a volunteer, and that motivated me to excel.

Volunteers return yearly as a consequence of Roskilde's efforts to empower them. And as they return, they are gradually given more responsibility and value.

How to empower volunteers
During Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, 2.2 million Americans volunteered for a common goal: to help reelect Obama as president.

I volunteered as well. Coordinating my volunteers from all over Tuscarawas County, Ohio, one of the important swing states. While doing so, I got hands on experience with how campaigns in the US work: they use a tested recipe for engaging volunteers. The recipe has different stages. The process steadily increases their social capital and training to correspond with the responsibility given.

By steadily increasing the perceived value of the work and the amount of responsibility associated with the work, campaign managers can empower volunteers, enable them to do a job, and actually make them feel happy about doing it for free. Of course there is also the big common goal: to influence who is in the end elected president.

Volunteer work in the private sector
But volunteerism is not just for festivals, NGOs and presidents. More than 90 per cent of Fortune 500 companies report having a formal employee volunteering program as part of their CSR-strategy. For example: In 2014, Microsoft donated $7.7 million as a result of the 456,000 volunteer hours logged through the company's employee volunteer program.
In 2011, Hewlett Packard’s Danish division wanted to rediscover and focus on their strengths to increase engagement, motivation and pride within the organization, and asked Stagis to consult on how to do so.

During the financial crises, HP had tried to steer through troubled waters. The former CEO Mark Hurd introduced reforms and cut costs in order to help HP stay afloat. But with a public reluctant to invest in IT, HP's PC division subject to media commentary and an overall decline in tech business, questions within the company began to emerge: “who are we?” and “who do we want to become?”.

From June to November in 2011, Stagis mapped out HP's corporate identity. This resulted not only in creating a more physical, visual or tactile expression of identity within their headquarters in Allerød, using text on walls containing different themes that correlated with their corporate identity. It also resulted in a volunteer-program called HelP. 

HelP would use HP products and competencies to empower small businesses to grow, flourish and later create partnerships with HP itself. In turn, HP employees felt pride in helping those who needed it and would rediscover the principles that Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded the company on.

Volunteerism does not have to be philanthropic on the part of a business, but that doesn’t overrule the good feeling empowerment can create with volunteers. The thing to remember is to match workload with investment: to empower volunteers by giving them new skills and responsibility, but also making sure that they feel needed or get special treatment, like influencing a music festival or presidential campaign.


Flere og flere danskere bliver frivillige. Men hvad motiverer frivillige til at arbejde gratis? Jeg har arbejdet med frivillige på både Roskilde Festival og under Obamas præsidentkampagne i 2012. Jeg lagde mærke til, at de frivillige og organisationerne fik mest ud af samarbejdet, når de frivillige blev bemyndiget.

De fleste mennesker vil gerne føle, at de er nødvendige. En af måderne er at give dem et ansvar, der får dem til at føle, at de er uundværlige - for ofte er de.

Danske biblioteker har siden 2011 prøvet at bruge frivillige til at mindske udgifter. Desværre har bibliotekerne ikke givet de frivillige det ansvar, der skal til for, at de frivillige føler, at der er behov for dem. Derfor fastholder bibliotekerne aldrig den enkelte frivillige længe.

I stærk modsætning til bibliotekerne giver Roskilde Festival ansvar til deres frivillige og sørger for, at de føler sig vigtige. Eksempelvis ved at give dem backstage adgang. Deres tilgang gør, at festivalens frivillige vender tilbage år efter år. Det man med et godt engelsk ord kalder empowerment. Der findes ikke en god oversættelse af "empowerment". Det tætteste er bemyndigelse, der betyder at give "formel tilladelse el. fuldmagt til at udføre visse handlinger; synonym beføjelse" (

Bemyndigelse er altså en måde at fastholde frivilliges interesse for arbejdet og samtidig skabe et stærkt tilhørsforhold mellem organisation og frivillige.

Frivillighed kan i det private bruges til at øge arbejdsmoralen og samtidigt gøre noget godt for samfundet, og derved forbedre en virksomheds CSR-profil. Men det kræver stadig, at virksomheder sørger for, at de frivillige bliver bemyndiget.

Stagis har tidligere arbejdet med frivillighed. For eksempel i forbindelse med visionsprocessen for Varde Kommune, hvor vi inddrog borgerne i den vestjyske kommune, som blev en stor del af udformningen af visionen. Stagis arbejder ud fra en tanke om, at strategien altid skal spejle de indre styrker.

Nyt selvforsynende brandingsystem - borgmestre løser tilflytningsproblemer ved at bytte borgere

En ny selvforsynende type branding, hvor borgere med de rette kompetencer flytter til en nabokommune, vil fremover redde Danmark. I år er det Fredericia, Kolding og Vejle der kommer til at opleve store forandringer med det nye projekt, hvor håndværkere, folkeskolelærere og kreative seniorer fra Fredericia skal bytte kommune. En ny cirkulær økonomi, forklarer Stagis.

En af udfordringerne for kommunerne er, at de 98 danske kommuner reelt set konkurrerer om de samme 6 millioner borgere og i sidste ende bruger ressourcer på at kæmpe om de samme tilflyttere i spillet om at blive en god "bosætningskommune".

Nu lancerer Stagis et nyt bæredygtigt system til kommunebranding, hvor nabokommunerne Fredericia Kommune, Kolding Kommune og Vejle Kommune, bruger Stagis' selvforsynende brandingmodel, som kan udnyttes, når 3, 4 eller 5 kommuner går sammen om et fælles brandinginitiativ. Grupper af borgere flytter rundt, så hver kommune modtager nye borgere. Modellen gør, at alle de kommuner der deltager, bliver bedre bosætningskommuner og får flere tilflyttere.

"Vi definerer de største udfordringer og problemstillinger i de tre kommuner og finder gennem vores model ud af, hvordan kommunerne bedst kan supplere hinanden," siger Nikolaj Stagis, adm. direktør i Stagis A/S, "i Vejle har man fx brug for flere håndværkere og sosu-assistenter og dem har man for mange af i Fredericia. Samtidig har Fredericia Kommune i lang tid søgt efter flere pædagoger og lærere til de kommunale folkeskoler, hvilket de kan tiltrække fra Kolding Kommune. Der har lærere og pædagoger længe arbejdet med designprocesser og derfor vinder Fredericia rigtig meget ved at få nogle lærerfamilier til at flytte fra Kolding til Fredericia. Kolding Kommune har længe ønsket at sænke indpendlingen og har brug for at udfolde deres identitet som designby ved at få både flere unge, familier og seniorer, som vil arbejde med kreative fag og der har vi set et match i vækstlaget hos Fredericia Kommune. Det betyder altså, at vi allerede henover sommeren og til efteråret forventer at øge tilflytningen til de tre kommuner med 18-20% i forhold til samme periode sidste år," fortæller Nikolaj Stagis.

Hos de tre deltagende kommuner er der stor tilfredshed hos borgmestrene og bredt hos økonomiudvalgene, som gennem hele processen har bakket op om den politiske beslutning om at blive selvforsynende i forhold til tilflytningsproblematikken. Stagis forestår tre isolerede kampagner gennem 2015, som tilsammen ændrer dynamikken mellem de tre kommuner, som derved får løst problemerned med både jordsalg og søgningen til børneinstitutioner.

I Kolding Kommune er borgmesteren og byrådet meget stolte over, at være den første kommune der sagde ja til tilbudet om at afprøve Stagis' nye brandingsystem, målrettet innovative kommuner. Jørn Pedersen (V), borgmester i Kolding Kommune fortæller om projektet, at der nok er et par kommuner rundt om i landet, som vil se misundeligt til trekantsområdet, når det her bliver rullet ud. Man kan hurtigt forestille sig fx Fåborg-Midtfyn Kommune gå sammen med Svendborg og Assens Kommuner om et lignende tiltag, hvor folk på sydfyn flytter til nabokommunen for at løse tilflytningsproblemerne. Det handler jo om at være selvforsynende og prøve at ændre de samfundsdynamikker, som ellers kan være svære at bryde i det, man helt forfejlet kalder Udkantsdanmark, fortæller borgmesteren efter seneste byrådsmøde i torsdags. Borgmesteren overvejer nu selv at flytte til Fredericia Kommune for at hjælpe nabokommunen.

I Ministeriet for By, Bolig og Landdistrikter anerkender man initiativet. Ministeriet overvejer i øjeblikket en model, som gør det muligt at udbrede modellen til resten af landet og potentielt flytninger rundt i Norden.