How do you transform a purpose from a buzzword into a powerful strategic tool? At Re:define we discussed how a clearly defined brand purpose sets the strategic direction and creates a strong narrative that not only increase profit, but more importantly strengthens your organizational brand and culture. The speakers were Birgitte Qvist-Sørensen, General Secretary at DanChurchAid and Nikolaj Stagis.
The Strongest brands are purpose-driven
Nikolaj Stagis made it clear that if a brand aspires to be perceived as authentic by consumers, it must not only identify what justifies the brands existence in society, it must constantly revisit this justification when making strategic decisions.
All too often brands claim to be purpose-driven through a CSR profile and other buzzwords but fail to live and express their promises. A purpose must become the main driver of the brand. When a brand is solely driven towards profit maximization and commercial success, it risk being seen as inauthentic by consumers and therefore outcompeted by the true purpose-driven brands. Among several examples, Nikolaj mentioned Tony’s Chocolonely. A chocolate brand who makes “100% slave free” as a result of a Dutch documentary, which uncovered slavery-like production conditions among the world’s largest chocolate manufactures.
Following a constructive discussion on the topic, Nikolaj gave a copy of the two bestsellers ‘Brands with a conscience‘ and ‘the Authentic Company‘ to the two attendees with the best questions of the evening.
A purpose drives the organisation forward and gives stability
General Secretary at DanChurchAid, Birgitte Qvist-Sørensen, talked about the value of a brand purpose becoming a strategic driver and compass for an organisation.
In 2016 DanChurchAid teamed up with Stagis to identify a new core narrative for the brand. Birgitte had felt the need for a common identity which could assist the organization in making decisions based on shared values that were true to the heritage of the brand. The case of DanChurchAid exemplifies the challenge in identifying a purpose which all employees can recognize and wish to commit to. Stagis and DanChurchAid succeeded in formulating strengths which were recognizable, but the process also uncovered values in the brand that were inexplicit but a core part of the brand’s purpose. The strengths were formulated into a core narrative, which should steer the long-term strategy for DanChurchAid. “This narrative is what our members and employees now subscribe to” as Birgitte highlighted. The important value in a purpose is that it is a strategic tool: “It gives a calmness” she told. Whenever the organization is in doubt, they turn to the core narrative for guidance and inspiration.
The evening continued with cozy chats and the sharing of ideas and thoughts on the importance of purposeful brands in today’s society.
20 years of transformation
Stagis was founded in 1997 with the ambition of transforming businesses into flourishing brands. At the anniversary party we celebrated 20 years of successes, failures, and learning experiences with clients, business partners, colleagues in the design and communication industry, and friends.
Tones of summer
The DJ filled the room with tones of summer, the bartender handed the first cocktails over the bar and just like that the old space in the city centre of Copenhagen transformed from our office into a buzzing summer party. We celebrated with ‘brunsviger’ brought all the way from Odense, because we have not forgotten where it all began – at Fyn.
20 blooming ideas
Nikolaj took the guests on a trip down memory lane when he presented 20 blooming ideas from Stagis' history. Among the ideas was Stagis' untraditional recruitment campaign “He jumped because he missed creativity” where Stagis attracted new talents by staging a crime scene in front of competing agencies by drawing the outline of a man – just like in old movies. Nikolaj also highlighted the branding guru Wally Olins as an inspiration and spoke of successful concepts and exciting events.
Visit our journal and read more about the ideas.
How do you make a brand jump off the white pages of the company strategy and into real life?
Creating a truly vibrant brand means implementing the appropriate behavior and creating a culture that runs through the entire organization – from management to staff and all the way to the customer experience. At Re:act, we focused on the necessity of living the brand in all aspects of the organization - from service design to communication activities across situations and touch points.
The speakers were:
Alfred Josefsen is a Danish leadership guru, writer, and mentor. Alfred is known to most Danes as the charismatic leader behind the supermarket chain Irma. He has written the books Kære Irma (Dear Irma), Min passion for ledelse (My passion for leadership) and recently I øjenhøjde (At eye level) which contains 100 columns that was printed in newspapers on leadership. At Re:act he talked about the leadership style that helped Irma become a uniquely positive customer experience and about his view on leadership as the primary way of creating value for both the employees and the company.
Nicholas Ind, Associate Professor at Oslo School of Management. Nicholas is the author of the bestseller Living the Brand (2007) and co-author of the new must-read Brand Desire (2016). At Re:Act, he unfolded the benefits of living the brand across situations and touch points and draw on examples of some of the most inspiring brands who practice every day. Nicholas is author of 15 books on branding and innovation and is one of the founding members of The Medinge Group.
Nikolaj Stagis, Director of Strategy at Stagis, talked about the power of authenticity in achieving a brand with correlation between all activities. Drawing on the case of the Bus Industry in Greater Copenhagen, Nikolaj explained how cultural and behavioral development can transform how the employees perform their job and perceived themselves. The project won the Danish Communication Prize in 2012 and led to a better brand experience and a complete change in image and perception of the Danish bus drivers.
Why is it that business leaders tend to rely more on survey data than on thick data? At Re:discover, we entered the chaotic jungle of insights and focused on the benefits of basing your brand development and innovation on qualitative thick data.
Sources for innovation is found in the corners of the data field
Former Managing Director at ReD Associates, Frederik Wiedemann, explained how the most fruitful data sources for innovation is found in the extremity of the data field. In these corners, thick data and big data rule the world as both methods allow very different insights – thick data (e.g. interviews and observations) examines and reaches the depth of the matter, while big data (giant amounts of electronic data) can be used to predict human behavior if it is used in a cleaver and circular way.
Frederik also elaborated on the methodological paradox that often dominate the gathering of insights, when pointing out that business leaders often rely more on survey data than on thick data. However, survey data (e.g. questionnaires) is the least effective method for generating new insights and is more effective in evaluating and adjusting current actions.
Start by asking the questions you just have to know the answer to
During the investigating journalist, Christian Kirk Muff’s, inspiring career he has constantly found himself in places and situations where he has never been before or knew very little about. At Re:discover, he described how research has always been the safety line that pulled him back to shore and explained how he always start by asking himself questions he just has to know the answers to. E.g. when he went ghost-hunting for the missing Tvind-founder, Mogens Amdi-Petersen, he asked himself: “is the man was really a crook and is he paranoid?”. Through thorough research and a great deal of curiosity he located Amdi-Petersen in Mexico. The efforts resulted in a reality documentary produced by DR3, but as Christian puts it:
“When the research is solid and the insights are obtained through a reliable method, I am more than happy to try different genres for communicating the results.”
Christian Kirk Muff
Anthropology as the basis of brand development
Director of Strategy, Nikolaj Stagis, pointed out the value of using anthropological method as the basis for brand development. Through two examples, he illustrated how qualitative methods can provide deep and “rich” insights that you otherwise would not have identified. In a recent project, anthropological method uncovered unspoken qualities, that was later used to develop a marketing plan for how a small town can attract more young people to the area.
Nikolaj also explained how qualitative insights saved Jeep. For a long time Jeep tried to adjust to customer demands, but it was not until qualitative methods uncovered that the cultural code for Jeep was “horse”, that the brand really turned around. By adjusting and emphasizing certain things, like the door came off, Jeep became the international brand they always wanted.
We hope to se you at our next Re:garding event in May.
How do you create beautiful brands that will attract new costumers? At Re:attract we explored the behavioral patterns of consumers, and through inspiring cases we learned how to use these insights in communication and branding activities.
Associate Professor Jesper Clement has spent the last 10 years understanding the patterns of the consumers visual attention and behavior. As a member of the Decision Neuroscience Research Cluster (DNRC), at Copenhagen Business School, Jesper knows all about how eye-tracking and brain scanning reveals the consumers’ unconscious decisions. At Re:attract, Jesper took us on a guided tour into the mind of the consumer and provided insights into why consumers act the way they do and what that means for marketing and communication activities.
In a society characterized with an overload of communication and low consumer interest, it becomes increasingly difficult for brands to secure the attention, relevance and consumer engagement. At Re:attract, Stagis’ new Managing Director, Henrik Binzer, dived head first into this challenge, and presented an approach to how brands can be both attractive and meaningful.
The afternoon ended in high spirits at a reception celebrating the 40th birthday of our Founder and Director of Strategy, Nikolaj Stagis. The reception also marked that Henrik Binzer has joined us as new Managing Director, and that Stagis now has another experienced person in the daily management team.
We look forward to seeing you at Re:discover on February 23.
Reaching the Local Brand Paradise In a Global World
Together with Medinge Group and Danish Design Centre, Stagis hosted the branding conference "Reaching Local Brand Paradise in a Global World" at the beautiful Bloxhub in the city center of Copenhagen.
At the conference, organizations and students joined the discussion on how brands create local and global value, and met international experts such as Peter Brown, Sandra Horlings and Nikolaj Stagis from Medinge Group, as well as Creative Conscience Award and Danish Church Aid.
The participants learned how organizations, cities and countries can create meaningful brands where economic growth, conscious leadership, and social responsibility goes hand in hand.
Watch the videos from the conference
We were very lucky to have the skilled video marketing platform TwentyThree live stream the presentations during the day. Learn more about the conference and watch or revisit the presentations at Stagis Journal.
Brands with a Conscience conference
In the new book Brands With a Conscience, the international branding think tank Medinge Group promote the need for conscious brands. Together with Medinge Group and Copenhagen Business School, Stagis invited brand managers and students to experience the international experts, brand practitioners and business cases from the book.
Among the speakers were Simon Paterson, Erika Uffindell, Nicholas Ind, and Nikolaj Stagis from Medinge Group as well as Maurice Dekkers from Tony's Chocolonely, CBS host Mogens Bjerre and Mikkel Skott Olsen from Velux. During the day, the speakers focused on why businesses should become more humane and conscious in order to help their businesses prosper and humanity to progress.
Learn more about the event at Copenhagen Business School at Stagis Journal.
The internationally acclaimed architect from BIG, David Zahle, joined us at Re:position to talk about their work with positioning cities and regions. While David emphasized the architectural and visual aspect of positioning, our CEO Nikolaj Stagis focused on the branding perspective of repositioning and shared several examples of successful brand repositioning.
David Zahle explained how BIG uses both new, existing and obsolete infrastructure to reposition spaces around the world and how many of BIG’s current and past projects have an element of redefining the status quo: E.g. how BIG has designed the new facade and roof for Amager Ressource Center (ARC). The new exterior converts the monolithic building into a ski pist, that will allow the public to engage with the plant and will turn it into something attractive, useful, and exciting.
Nikolaj Stagis explained the fundamentals of a successful reposition: Often it’s much more a question of reconsidering the way you do business than trying to change the image of the brand through a clever campaign. At Re:position, he presented the creative case of repositioning OKI printers and offered insights into how the world famous Hästens brand turned beds from being a commodity to a luxury experience.
We look forward to seeing you at Re:attract on November 24.
Design is often related to the physical expression of your brand, but can also create substantial value, growth and change in your business. At Re:design we focused on the many aspects of design and how it can revitalize your brand and help secure a strong position in the mind of consumers and in the market. Three inspiring speakers, talked about their work with design and how it has played a vital role in building the historic brand of the world’s oldest wine merchant and in developing a more harmonized visual expression.
In the video you can see some of the highlights from the evening.
The three speakers at Re:start was:
Simon Paterson (UK)
Working out of London, Simon Paterson has helped some of the worlds largest international organizations, such as Shell, Oxford University and Star Alliance. The international brand expert talked about how he has worked closely with the world’s oldest wine and spirit merchant, Berry Bros. & Rudd, to review and redesign their brand. At Re:design Simon emphasized how a redesign of Berry Bros. & Rudd's brand identity served as a catalyst for the strong brand they hold today.
As a graphic designer at Stagis, Torben Slothuus has a wide experience with developing designs that visualize the unique strengths of the brand. At Re:design, he talked about how he helps organizations and companies strengthen their position in the mind of the consumer through a unified visual identity that secures alignment and a clear expression.
Ethnologists Meik Brüsch and Lasse Damgaard have investigated the unexploited potentials of design and what role design plays in innovation. In their recent publication “Reflexive innovation – the hidden potential of design” they have interviewed 15 organization who have all tried to push the conventions in their industries. At Re:design Lasse Damgaard talked about how design can serve as a catalyst for innovation, and exemplified it through the cases from the publication.
At our first transformational meeting in 2016 we focused on Re:starting and why a good start is so important for future economic and personal success. Every brand once had to find its place in the market, but why have some succeeded in maintaining a strong position, while others haven’t? At Re:start we satisfied the participants curiosity on what it takes to create a successful business, learned from some of the most experienced and inspiring people, cases, and personal experiences on starting from scratch, regenerating an existing business and re:starting on a personal level.
In this video you can see some of the highlights from the evening.
The speakers at Re:start was:
Serial entrepreneur Mik Thobo-Carlsen has started numerous successful businesses and know just what to look for in the market and which parameters that are the most important when starting a business from scratch. At Re:start, Mik shed light on the do’s and don’ts when developing a new business and how he has secured success in his latest start-up: the online community Tattoodoo.com.
CEO at Stagis A/S, Nikolaj Stagis, spoke about the importance of knowing the unique strengths of your business, and why these make up the strongest foundation for achieving long-term success. At Re:start, Nikolaj will drew on some of the most inspiring cases and illustrated the benefits of building your business on existing authentic strengths to create some of the worlds most successful brands.
KL's Kommunikationsdøgn 2015
Stagis participated in "KL's Kommunikationsdøgn" on the 29th-30th of October 2015. Brand expert and CEO, Nikolaj Stagis, conducted a workshop on how to find your municipalities unique qualities and strengths.
We sent some of our talented people to talk about what we can do for municipalities and many of the visitors partcipated in our competition for two hours of consulting or tickets to the Kommunebranding15 conference.
Tønder Kommune won tickets to the conference, Herlev Kommune won a copy of the book The authentic company by Nikolaj Stagis while Helsingør won the big prize of two hours of free consulting - congratulations to the winners and thank you for the inspiring talks we had during "KL's Kommunikationsdøgn".
What makes your municipality unique?
At our stand we urged the Danish municipalities to articulate their unique strengths. The participants competed for the main prize: two hours of free consulting.
Workshop with Nikolaj Stagis
Communications people from the majority of Danish municipalities participated actively in Nikolaj Stagis’ workshop on how to create a strong brand.
Re:connect - Create relations through your personal voice
At Re:connect speakers from Maersk and DR spoke about how brands can strengthen the relationship with fans, users, and customers by developing a more personal communication style.
Birgitte Henrichsen, Head of Group Communication and Branding at Maersk, talked about how the organization has changed its approach to communication. As a result the organizations is now perceived as more modern and open and has developed a more personal voice towards clients and potential employees.
Editor of Social Media from DR, Lars Damgaard Nielsen, shed light on the challenge of balancing a personal voice and the shared expression of the corporation to create stronger platforms for interaction between different programs, platforms and the viewers. Through targeted communication strategies that comply with the overall strategy, DR holds has created communication platforms that match the individual target groups.
The world-famous performance artist, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, delivered an artistic perspective on how the personal voice can be used to re:connect and create personal relations. Lilibeth delivered to performances that illustrates how one's personal voice isn’t always enough and
After Re:connect, we invited guests, clients and friends of the house to stay and celebrate our 18-years birthday. The evening was spent with a lot of sweet guests, delicious food, cold drinks and great music. Thanks to all the participants for making the evening unforgettable. We are happy and proud to call ourselves grown ups and look forward to the next 18 years in business.
Conference on successful authentic brands
In February 2012, 300 business- and communications people participated in Stagis’ management conference in Børsen in Copenhagen to celebrate the publication of the “The authentic company”. During the conference it became evident that organizations that translate their inner strengths into business development are the winners of tomorrow. Authenticity not only makes it easier to do business – it is also reflected on the bottom line.
”We don’t have clients. We’ve got fans,” said Federico Minoli from the motorcycle manufacturer Ducati. ”Fascination and stories create success”, said Andreas Braun from BMW Museum. Peter Kreiner from Noma spoke about the development of the world’s best restaurant, Casper Vorting from Bøgedal Bryghus spoke about inherited craftsmanship and attendance in the production, while Astrid Gade Nielsen from Arla talked about the challenges of the organization in relation to authenticity and the focus on specialized production.
The five different cases exemplify companies that have managed to use their inherent strengths in business development. They illustrate that all organizations – big and small – can work strategically with authentic identity and thereby segregate themselves from mainstream.
Read the recommendations of “The authentic company”.
Authenticity management pays off
Management experts Majken Schultz, professor at CBS, and Nikolaj Stagis summarized the five cases and reflected on authenticity economy and the opinion society. Majken Schultz pointed out that authenticity is a new discussion within organizational theory and an essential management responsibility for the organizations and companies of tomorrow. Schultz has written the preface to “The authentic company” and point out that the book demonstrates how organizations can work on becoming authentic – not only in theory but in practice as well. Nikolaj Stagis completed the conference by emphasizing that, especially now – with the transition from information society to opinion society – a strategic focus on authenticity can be crucial for the future of organizations.
Federico Minoli spoke about Ducati's turnaround and how he has turned the company into a successful experience brand.
The authentic brewery
Casper Vorting is a brewer and the founder of Bøgedal Bryghus. Hear what he had to say about authenticity at the conference.
Has Arla sold its soul?
Astrid Gade Nielsen from Arla talked about how Arla have used authenticity to build the strong brand we know today.
The authentic company
Nikolaj Stagis presented his new book ”The authentic company" at the launch in Børsen in Copenhagen.
Noma's sense of time and place
Peter Kreiner is the CEO at Noma – the worlds best restaurant. Hear what he had to say about Noma's authentic identity at the conference.
Why authenticity now?
Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Majken Schultz emphasized why an authentic identity is important for the organizations of tomorrow.
The authentic museum
Andreas Braun from BMW Museum highlighted the benefits of having a corporate museum. Revisit his presentation from the conference.