Selected by our virtual expert panel as one of the most innovative examples of place branding and marketing in recent years, Oslo’s city branding approach caught our attention with its Brand Toolbox. A very innovative and creative solution, the toolbox proposes itself as a set of guidelines and checklists to help local companies to develop their own stories, while maintaining an overall coherent message. The goal? Pull everyone towards that same direction and create an international Oslo brand.
- Why Oslo engages with strategic city branding;
- How Oslo’s Brand Toolbox supports its place branding strategy;
- Some of the initiatives developed as part of the Brand Toolbox;
- How Oslo would like to be seen, internationally.
There is strength in numbers, they say. And that is what Oslo Brand Alliance is counting on right now. If it is true that the region is slowly gaining a more prominent position in the international business sphere, nobody chooses Norway by chance. Its international profile is still limited. The toolbox – free for all to use – allows businesses to create their own international profile under a common brand: a brand with a clear vision and mission.
Oslo city brand strategy: How they do it
In order to better understand how the toolbox and its Brand Filter work, we spoke with Tone-Lise Vilje, Oslo Brand Manager for Oslo Brand Alliance.
“We wanted to give businesses, municipalities etc. the tools necessary for showing the world why Oslo is unique” – Tone-Lise Vilje tells us. “The strategy is clear – values are stronger than slogans. We don’t have a logo or a slogan for branding Oslo. We believe in telling the stories about the big small, the compact living, the young entrepreneurs”.
The “big small” – Oslo wants to be compact, but with a “a lot of room”. A place where everything is in close proximity, both in terms of physical distances and society structures; a free, democratic and tech-savvy place projected towards the future.
The toolbox was the perfect answer for this. It was something different from usual, something that added value. Stakeholders were invited to workshops and local events, and – gradually – the voice spread. The key was to not focus on touristic prospects alone. The branding tries to sell Oslo’s work-life balance as an attractive feature for business and investments as well.
Several projects are running right now, including promoting cultural events, movies, education and start-ups. The Oslo Brand Alliance seems to really be striving towards helping everyone trying to improve Oslo’s reputation abroad.
Oslo Brand Alliance’s own movie project, The Great Escape, now has more than 3,5 M views and numerous awards, with an initial funding of EUR 35K. Only time will tell whether or not this is resulting in a boost of visits to the region, but “the results are definitely promising”, Miss Vilje tells us.
Maximizing the potential of all these good initiatives is what really seems to be the most challenging task. “So many projects, innovative ideas and cultural happenings…it makes it hard not to take on too much.” – Oslo Brand Manager Vilje continues – “We learned that we should continue to take chances. Not being afraid to fail is a key factor”.
The toolbox is constantly evolving and its content just looks as dynamics as ever. Photos, videos, key facts about the city are all there, and easy to navigate. The Brand filter is very clear as well.
Aiming to become the “world’s favourite compact city”, the tool invites all stakeholders to be authentic, transparent and focus on facts and figures. In other words: to be Norwegian.
What the Oslo Brand toolbox does is essentially supporting local businesses and individuals to always be pioneers in their field. Ambitious? Maybe. But the Oslo brand is there, and its structure meets all the requirements for success.
More on how Oslo collaborates with its neighboring municipalities to strengthen the city brand in our interview with Øyvind Såtvedt on the brand development and management of the Oslo Region.
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