The Brand Building Steering Group includes opinion formers from the City’s agencies and partner organisations. Many members want to see ‘One Helsinki’ and a new, more unified operational culture emerge as a result of brand building.
‘One Helsinki’ does not mean a uniform culture – just the opposite. Multiculturalism needs to be turned into an asset for Helsinki.
“The vitality of Helsinki grows and the good energy flows, when the entire people of Helsinki make the city better together. The genuine attitude of co-operation reaches out far beyond our borders. It will attract many others to join our work and to share the passion to this city. This is one of the aims of the current branding project”, Marja-Leena Rinkineva from the City of Helsinki Economic Development Department says.
Tommi Laitio of the City of Helsinki Youth Department comments as follows: “Unity is often based on a backwards-looking culture, even though greater unity can also mean greater diversity. What if Helsinki were to be kinder than other cities? Capital of Nice?”
The Helsinki factor?
In defining our brand, we are making use of the best aspects at all levels – European, Nordic, Finnish, city district. For example, Helsinki can be associated with the full range of Nordic assets such as safety, nature, equality and early adoption of technology. We need to find the ‘Helsinki factor’ on top of these.
Differentiation can not lie in small and minor issues – even at the risk that Helsinki is not globally unique in any respect. Stuba Nikula of the Cultural Office says: “If we find something unique, it would also probably be fairly trivial, such as Helsinki – the best place in the world for urban ice swimming.”
The world already has several powerful brands which have associated themselves with generic issues. Copenhagen is hardly the world’s only open and green city.
The experience of diversity is based on the feeling associated with a place, which is symbolised in various ways. The Eiffel Tower tells the story of Paris, the city of romance. On the other hand, individual monuments are not enough to differentiate a city.
Defining how we differ requires an answer to the question, “in relation to whom?” Our brand work seeks to ask the question of which category we fit into and who are our competitors?
Great marketing is being done in Helsinki. Despite this, we are still behind our closest competitors in attracting visitors to our city. How can we get more people interested in Helsinki?
Change inspires many people. What does it mean to us?
Text and picture: Riikka Lahdensuo