The subtle art
of translating a brand

When the energy companyVattenfall made the move from being a purely Swedish operator to an international one, it became imperative to review all the interfaces that communicate its brand such as marketing communications, signs, vehicles and interiors. The company relocated to new headquarters in Stockholm last autumn.

One of Stockholm’s most central addresses, Sturegatan 10, used to be a hotel, bar and restaurant popular with the city’s residents – the Lydmar. But from autumn 2007, this site has been graced by a seven-storey building that accommodates the head office of one of Sweden’s largest companies, Vattenfall (the name means “Waterfall” in Swedish). One reason for moving to a new office was to bring the corporate management and staff departments together under a single roof to increase efficiency.Another was to acquire more appropriate and contemporary premises that were representative for visitors and encouraged interaction between employees.

The reception area already gives visitors a good impression of what the energy company intends to convey. Its core operations are symbolised by an installation depicting a purling waterfall. Adjacent to this is an information panel about the global climate challenge together with the memorable quote: “If you’re part of the climate problem, you can also be part of the solution”.Two elements that clearly reflectVattenfall’s identity and environmental commitment.

The décor in all parts of the offices consists of pure lines, light wood, matt metal, airy textiles, natural materials and a mix of straight and round shapes. The colour scheme in white, grey, yellow and beige provides a neutral basis for the orange and blue corporate colours that are used as highlights on everything from pouffes to the backs of computer monitors. Contemporary without being trendy. Understated but nevertheless welcoming. Lina Nilsson, Brand Design Manager, has been in charge of the company’s visual identity since 2003, a job that became indispensable when Vattenfall grew quickly from 8,000 employees in Sweden to 32,000 throughout Europe. “When Vattenfall acquired companies around Europe, we ended up with a plethora of diverse identity symbols, so we needed a systematic approach to project the image of a single company, or ‘One Vattenfall’ as we say internally, to our customers and prospects.

We began with our marketing communications, vehicles and sign system, and continued with office décor and our work clothing. In parallel we also worked with processes, roles and responsibilities for ensuring that we would preserve our identity over the long term. Last year we focussed more on physical environments and furnishings linked to our new corporate office and a new concept for our ‘Vattenfall Centres’, places where we meet our customers personally.” says Lina. function and identity in focus Vattenfall’s corporate offices and customer centres are all based on the same interior concept that
translates the corporate brand into colours, materials, shapes and suitable expressions for a physical environment.

It has subsequently been adapted to the various premises on the basis of their specific objectives and functions, and Kinnarps supplied their workplace furniture. Tengbom were the architects responsible for the work on the corporate office, and, together with Lina Nilsson and her colleagues, defined many of the various requirements for how the premises should function and what image they should project. The first impression was to be representative and welcoming, and the interiors should be experienced as living, surprising and inspiring to both employees and visitors. The aspect of surprise is illustrated by the handles of the toilet doors, which shine green when free and red when occupied – an invention of Swedish designer Alexander Lervik.

Or the meeting rooms named after Vattenfall’s various power stations – such as Brunsbüttel, Siekieri, Goldisthal and Forsmark. When Lina Nilsson talks about the interior design work, which is being continued in other selected offices, she adds that the aim was to create functional and contemporary workplaces where people feel at ease.
“So the best testimonial we can receive is when employees say they feel proud of their workplace and their employer – and I’m convinced that when we feel well and happy, we also work more efficiently and become even better ambassadors for the Vattenfall brand.”

Susanne Helgeson