Hans Martin Megard Scandinavian Design Group

The man who has been working on brand creation for almost two decades and comes from a part of the world that is recognized by top design will bring some Scandinavian freshness to the Rovinj media festival. Hans Martin Megard is CEO at Scandinavian Design Group, which has been operating within I&F McCann Grupa since last year, and he will hold a lecture at the Weekend Media Festival on sustainability. Within his lecture, Hans will will show that sustainability is both a challenge and an opportunity and reveal how smart agencies can use the UN sustainable development goals as a means of building brands.

How much time did it take for the Nordic companies to accept that branding is an essential part of the market positioning?

Companies in the Nordic region in general are quite professional about branding and design. Historically I think this can be traced back to a strong design tradition. The Scandinavian design trend that emerged in the 40s and 50s for furniture and architecture raised awareness of the value of design in all areas of society. There are also a number of good schools turning out designers. Another important driver for branding and design in the region is the combination between a high cost base and small domestic markets. The consequence of this is that most Nordic companies and products can’t compete on price, and they depend on exports. The majority of Nordic brands have to cultivate a premium position in their categories. Design and branding are important tools to capture premium positions. If there is one perspective that we can bring from the Nordic region to this region, it is designing and branding at all stages of business. Design and branding should be put into a strategic context. Another aspect that I consider valuable for implementing is to create branding and design with purpose, and that the design process is used to focus on sustainability in companies and society. We want to transfer our branding experiences to this region, which has great potential. We have already begun to form teams between the Scandinavian Design Group and I&F McCann Grupa members with excellent results. There are many talented designers here and many very interesting companies working in areas such as animation and gamification.

In Rovinj you will find yourself in one of the tourist centers of the region, which is one of the favorite professional topics for SDG. What is the key to creating a successful branding of a tourist destination? You did it with Oslo and now with Norway.

In our experience the most important factor is creating a common understanding about the brand positioning and marketing strategy among the many stakeholders. The strategy we developed for Visit Oslo took that to extremes, inviting all Oslo citizens to be stakeholder in the Oslo brand. We called the strategy Oslo Boosters. The insight behind the strategy was that the real power to promote a destination will always be with the people who live there and the thousands of service providers, restaurants, hotels and guides sharing stories. Another part of the Oslo Boosters strategy was to open all tourism APIs to everyone who wanted to use them. All official Oslo data streams and content, like images and event calendars, was shared for free. This led to a much bigger media and digital footprint. We also created a great design system and designed new websites and visitor centers. Have a look at visitoslo.com.

The Brand Norway project is still ongoing, and has two key objectives. One is to help develop Norway as a tourist destination. The other is to increase exports. The export objective is quite a challenge. Over the next 30 years Norway has to replace its largest export industry, oil and gas, with exports from other industries. Our job is to fill the term “made in Norway” with relevant meaning for things other than salmon.

How do you rate the branding of Croatia as a tourist destination?

Croatia’s current branding, full of life, is well executed. A destination as beautiful as Croatia is a fantastic source of attractive imagery, and the promotion channels make good use of this. The current material also focuses on diversification, with concepts for food and different activities. Going forward I think there is room to improve on concepts and content targeted at specific segments. Croatia also needs to invest in developing the destinations within the destination, this could be cities, islands or sites. The biggest challenge however will be to broaden the perception of Croatia from an affordable sun and sea destination to a brand with broad appeal. Consider the universal appeal of a destination like Italy. You can add Italian to almost anything, food, people, countryside, seaside, and immediately infuse it with identity and added value.

How important is it for companies/brands to implement global goals for sustainable development in their business/positioning?

Sustainability is going to be the most defining topic in society over the next decades and beyond. I believe both customers, talent and governments will demand that companies and brands take a clear position and implement sustainable business practices. Everyone who works in the branding and marketing profession already knows the importance of a strong purpose. An ambition to do good and contribute beyond the business objectives. The challenge with sustainability is that the topic is extremely complex. The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, the SDGs, provide a universal framework, breaking this complex topic down into tangible sectors. They also help us get a broader understanding of sustainability, by bringing in social factors like education and equality in addition to the environmental and biological challenges. From a branding perspective this framework is very useful. It allows companies and brands to identify a clear positioning on sustainability.

Is the implementation of these goals an expense for the company?

It is a very common perception among companies that a stronger focus on sustainability will cost money, place limitations on their choices of suppliers and add time consuming processes. I do not believe that has to be the case. With the right execution, sustainability is an opportunity to save money and to make money. The key is to look for the triple bottom line opportunities. Initiatives that contribute to people, planet and profit. Wall Mart in the US employs this strategy. They use their purchasing power to challenge suppliers to use less energy and create less waste. As a result they save money across the value chain. Unilever’s portfolio of sustainable living brands provided 60% of the company’s growth in 2016. Sustainable products and solutions are in increasing demand and customers are often prepared to pay a premium.

You will hold an interesting presentation at this year's WMF called “What’s your number?” In your view, which numbers can our companies implement promptly? Have we already managed to implement some?

I think one of the most exciting numbers is 17. This goal is called “Partnerships for the goals” and focuses on how to raise awareness of the SDG 17. Our industry has great potential to contribute towards this by adapting the SDG framework into our work with clients. The presentation at the WMF is an example of this. “What’s your number?” is more than a presentation. It is an invitation to the industry in the region to participate in a campaign to make the SDG 17 a part of our industry’s toolbox.

Another very relevant goal for our profession is number 12, “Responsible consumption”. Here we have great opportunities to contribute by stimulating our clients in exploring opportunities in more sustainable products and services.

As marketing professionals it is our great privilege to work across a broad range of industries, helping clients develop brands and stories. I think this puts us in a position to contribute across all the goals. The possibilities are endless.

Hans Martin Megard will hold the lecture "What's your number? The Agency Perspective on Sustainable Development "at the Weekend Media Festival on Saturday, September 23rd, from 11.15 am to 12.15 pm in the Weekend Hall.

The original interview was published on MediaMarketing: http://www.media-marketing.com/en/interview/hans-martin-megard-purpose-new-life-design/

I&F McCann Grupa jedan je od vodećih komunikacionih sistema koji 20 godina uspešno posluje u 12 zemlja jugo istočne Evrope i nordijske regije. Naš posvećen tim čini 600 talentovanih profesionalaca, koji svakodnevno sarađuju na integraciji marketinških kampanja, promotivnih aktivnosti, organizaciji događaja, dizajnu, planiranju i zakupu medijskog prostora, PR, produkciji, komunikaciji u oblasti zdravstva, kreiranju TV sadržaja,kao i na svim formama digitalnog marketinga. Agencije koje posluju u okviru I&F McCann Grupe deo su McCann Worldgroup (www.mccannworldgroup.com),jedne od najvećih svetskih agencijskih mreža,osnovane 1902.godine koja posluje u više od 120 zemalja sveta, i u vlasništvu je Interpublic Group (IPG) (www.interpublic.com) sa sedištem u Njujorku.