A mission for Finland

As we announced on this update on Finland’s nation branding project, the Brand Finland delegation published the results of their work last Thursday, November 25th.

The delegation, set up in 2008 by Alexander Stubb, the Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, was charged with the task to think and discuss ways to make Finland more visible, more relevant and more valued in the global stage. The suggestions, which are the result of the delegation’s work with ‘competitive identity’ expert Simon Anholt, have been compiled on a 365 page report, titled ‘Mission for Finland’.

The report essentially suggests that Finland should profile itself as a global problem-solver in a number of key areas where Finland has its strengths – Functionality (‘Finland Works’, the authors say), Water (‘Drink Finland’) and Education (‘Finland gives you a lesson’).

“Our practical and forthright approach to dealing with challenges offers Finland an excellent opportunity to earn distinction, for instance, in resolving problems associated with international conflicts, water shortage and education,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Finland, the report states, offers the world “functionality and sustainable solutions in the form of both products and services as well as a functioning society, […] its ability to negotiate so that the world can be a better place to live, […] clean water and food and related expertise, [… and] better education and teachers.”

Roope Mokka of Demos Finland, the think tank that compiled, prepared and wrote the ideas produced by the delegation together with Simon Anholt, said:

“Our approach, as far as I know, has been unique. We all know that even as countries evoke emotions and bring into mind things just like brands, they are not brands. Instead of a pure marketing operation this became a way of developing and safeguarding the country’s most valuable strengths – education, nature and functionality. Instead of a slogan we came up with a mission: Finland Solves Wicked Problems.

We decided to refrain from seeing this as a branding exercise, with campaigns, videos, posters, Finland-events and brand-guides. Instead we asked three questions what in is both strong in Finland and will sustain to be valuable in the future globally? What do we need to do in Finland to support those strengths? What do we need to do internationally to realize this value?

It became a very Finnish brand. We came up with dozens of concrete and sustainable projects that can be deployed to make our strengths visible and increase the value Finland internationally.”

The report also lays out 34 tasks for different players: ministries, companies, local governments and organizations, as well as private individuals.

Although it is sometimes quite an amusing read for non-Finns with sentences such as “Finland is already the best country in the world” (according to Newsweek apparently) and “If Finland did not exist, it would have to be invented,” the report is also an exceptionally serious piece of work that builds on Finland’s many unique design strengths. ‘Bloody brilliant’, minister Alexander Stubb said after reading it.

You can check it out by yourself by downloading it from here: ‘Mission for Finland’ branding report [PDF]