Helsinki should use its strengths more actively in branding
Place branding has been a hot topic in Finland ever since the government sent out a branding group to improve Finland’s image. Although business drivers are crucial when companies are looking for new locations, the perception also matters. Places compete for investments, visitors, talented people and large scale events. In decision-making, the brand image can have a huge influence.
Marcus Andersson, a Swedish place branding professional, comments on Helsinki’s brand position in relation to its neighboring regions:
– Branding is not about logos, slogans or advertising, but rather a strategic development plan to improve the image of a place. Important aspects in place branding are likeability as well as awareness of the location. For instance, Scandinavian countries are quite liked, but not very known around the globe. Additionally, the Nordic capitals have difficulties in differentiating from each other. Collaboration can be an asset, but it is hard to stand out, Mr. Andersson describes.
– Nevertheless, Helsinki has a lot going on: it is ranked in the very top e.g. in the most livable city rankings produced by valued publications like Monocle and The Economist. Research also reveals that in reality Helsinki has more assets than its brand image shows, i.e. Helsinki has more potential to utilize its assets to improve its brand.
Mr. Andersson tells that Finland’s image is in fact stronger than Helsinki’s. Hence, the city should use Finland’s image to leverage Helsinki brand.
– My advice for Helsinki is to borrow Finland’s more valued image and remember the soft factors. The Finns are often over-engineering things, but the soft factors like creativity, nature, culture and identity play a huge role in branding. Helsinki World Design Capital has captured this variable with their theme of design embedded in everyday life. Helsinki should take advantage of the on-going year in Helsinki and use the lessons learned as building blocks for an improved branding program, Mr. Andersson remarks.