Helsinki City Brand

A new brand concept and city marketing strategy to define and highlight the strengths of Helsinki

#insight #strategy #conceptlab #branding

How Helsinkians came together to create the identity for their city

The city was missing a common thread

Although Helsinki consistently places towards the top in international city rankings, its brand visibility and recognition had been lagging its Nordic peer cities in terms of attracting investment, visitors and talent.

In 2015, Kuudes designed and implemented a yearlong insight and strategy program to change this. In order to find out how to use city marketing to make Helsinki more attractive we took an open and inclusive approach to co-create a shared vision for “Brand New Helsinki”. The project involved thousands of individuals and a variety of stakeholders from the private and public sector. Everyone in Helsinki could have their say.

Flow Festival 2014 Friday 8th of August 2013 (c) Jussi Hellsten

© Jussi Hellsten

Project phases

1. Insight

We set out to understand how people see Helsinki. We obtained this insight through a process of 8 workshops and 73 interviews. We reviewed 79 reports and conducted a study of 16 cities.

2. Concepts

The Kuudes design team used the Concept Lab service design tool to crystallize 4 themes distilled in the 1st phase into 4 different brand and future vision scenarios.

3. Testing

We presented the scenarios to over 1,000 people in 8 workshops and 10 presentation sessions. More than 1,800 people took the test, leaving 500+ comments.

4. Finalisation

We formulated a brand and marketing strategy based on the idea that Helsinki residents are passionate aboutsolving problems together. The  service promise was: “Together we can make an impact.”

The cornerstones of the Helsinki brand

We created the “Helsinki mindset” which allowed everyone to contribute in promoting Helsinki. The city embraced an end user-oriented and participatory culture that is accelerating and enabling. We did not want to write stories about what Helsinki is today, or discuss logos or slogans. We were looking for the true essence of the city. After an extensive process of co-creation, we extracted four cornerstones to the Helsinki brand that are a guiding hand for all kinds of marketing and related activities.

Soon in the process it came clear to us that the fragmentation of different actors was a major challenge for marketing. There was also no clear strategy for using the city’s 40,000 employees, let alone all the residents of the capital, as brand ambassadors and the city’s administrative organization comprised 33 uncoordinated bureaus.

The four cornerstones of Helsinki's new brand identity

The four cornerstones of Helsinki’s new brand identity


We have grown in our own quiet way, as an East-West crossroads and gateway from Asia. Helsinki is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. Image © Jussi Hellsten


The whole family loves Helsinki. Ours is an active life in a cosy city. The city is big enough to handle big ideas, but small enough to get around fast. Image © Jussi Hellsten


City life is buzzing, technologically advanced and digitized, but nature is always close. You can swim outdoors in the city centre or stroll into the forest. Image © Jussi Hellsten


We are pioneers in open, sharing, communal modern living. Helsinkians are urban activists. Go on, turn your living room into a restaurant or turn the streets into a giant flea market! Image © Jussi Hellsten

Thinking bigger than ever

The result of the project is Brand New Helsinki – a new brand, new operating model and a new era of collaboration. It’s a future where people make Helsinki an even better place to live. It’s the vision of the residents – people who are ambitious about building the world’s most advanced and successful everyday life.

The goal is that in 2020, Helsinki will be widely known as the city of people, encounters and actions that make an impact. Our project was shortlisted in the global City Nation Place branding awards in the Brand Strategy category.

We also created a homebase for the venture that allowed anyone to contribute and see how the project proceeded.
Check out the Brand New Helsinki website



 “We can see that the city’s formerly fragmented way of operating and marketing itself is being transformed, resulting in increased attractiveness and competitiveness.”

– Saila Machere, Head of City Marketing Unit


19 %

increase in overnight stays in Helsinki from March 2016 to March 2017


in the European Cities Talent Competetiveness Index ECTCI, December 2016


UIA Rankings of Congress Cities.The most popular city in the Nordic Region for international association meetings


Helsinki’s visibility in social and international media reached record highs in 2016

For more information:

Jari Danielsson
CEO, Kuudes Nordic
+358 40 730 9612