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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hedeselskabet headquarters in Viborg.

Uncovering strengths 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.

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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.

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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. 

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

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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.

vækst-til-blogExamples of the visual guidelines of Hedeselskabet’s periodical ‘Vækst’.

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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. 

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

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

Planning 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.infographics

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.

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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.

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