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Collaboration is on brand in the Nordics

The Nordics possess a unique mindset that distinguishes them and goes beyond mere geographical limits.


A comprehensive strategy can bolster the positioning of Nordic countries and help them to proactively retain the international talent they attract, writes Julia Helminen, content manager and subeditor at Good News from Finland.

The past few years have completely transformed the way we work, travel and experience the world around us. From the pandemic to conflicts, energy crises, economic downturns and the urgent need to address climate change, our values and expectations have been shaken to their core.

In times of uncertainty and distress, what we truly yearn for are well-balanced places where we can flourish as both individuals and professionals while living our lives to the fullest. We crave travel destinations that align with our values, where we can forge authentic connections and create meaningful experiences. While people’s demands and expectations continue to evolve, regions, countries and municipalities have had to adapt their place branding strategies and find creative solutions despite limited resources and fierce competition. So, what initiatives have they embraced, and what valuable lessons can we learn from their experiences?

During the conference, global talent and place practitioners emphasised the vital importance of talent attraction and retention going hand in hand.

Julia Helminen

The Nordic Place Branding conference, a gathering of 250 Nordic and European peers from over 20 countries, was recently held in the Finnish capital, Helsinki. The event facilitated exchanging ideas, as well as sharing trends and unveiling insights in various areas such as place branding, investment promotion, tourism and talent attraction.

It comes as no surprise that talent attraction was a recurring topic in almost all presentations and panel discussions at the conference. However, what truly stood out was that each region had its own distinctive strategy. Some embrace talent attraction as the driving force behind the green transition, whilst others leverage the power of storytelling and data to inspire and activate residents – after all, “a great place to live is a great place to visit”.

Finland’s commitment to talent attraction and retention is supported by the national Talent Boost initiative, which aims to attract international talent, facilitate their integration into society and enhance employment prospects of international specialists already residing in Finland. To assist in these efforts, the official website Work in Finland serves as a comprehensive resource and offers valuable insights into Finland’s work culture, practical advice for individuals planning to relocate and a platform for English-speaking professionals to explore job opportunities that do not require knowledge of either Finnish or Swedish languages.

In 2021, small Finnish municipality Salla launched a creative campaign to draw attention to the global issue of climate change and its impact.

Save Salla 2032

In the travel space, noteworthy trends include the rise of the “workcation” – attracting digital nomads and startups – and sidestepping small budgets with the help of big ideas to drive visitors to desired destinations. For small communities dependent on the visitor economy, the struggle is twofold. Take the remote Finnish Lapland town of Salla, for instance, which faces the daunting challenge of sustaining tourism while protecting its local community from climate change. Its Save Salla campaign reached billions of people worldwide and shed light on the urgent need to address climate change and its consequences.

In the post-pandemic era, our attention has shifted towards the quality of public places, prompting city centres to reinvent themselves by offering rich cultural experiences, opportunities for social encounters and a vibrant atmosphere. Finland’s capital Helsinki has masterfully combined place-making with branding, exemplified by the central library Oodi – a free living room for work, study and learning – and the Helsinki Biennial, where modern art merges with the breathtaking natural archipelago.

The City of Helsinki has been focused on creating a balanced good life for its citizens and visitors, making freedom, sustainability, urban wilderness, functionality and quirkiness cornerstones of its brand. 

Omar El Mrabt

While each Nordic and European country, municipality and city faces its own unique challenges, they also share many common values, such as trust, environmental preservation, equality, creativity and innovation, openness, and transparency. The Nordics, in particular, boast a distinct state of mind that sets them apart, transcending geographical boundaries. Although these countries may be viewed as competitors, they are members of a larger community tackling similar challenges. By leveraging the untapped potential of inter-regional and cross-border branding initiatives, we can not only enhance tourism and investment promotion but also expand our focus to encompass talent attraction and retention. A comprehensive strategy can bolster the positioning of Nordic countries and help them to proactively retain the international talent they attract.

The quest for creating good places for a good life is not limited to individual countries. The impact can be truly transformative when Nordic and European regions come together in active collaboration, united by a shared vision and a determination to create a brighter future for all.

Julia Helminen
Content manager and subeditor, Good News from Finland