I will periodically see the phrase “Finnish marketing” used in jest… mostly referring to it as some kind of oxymoron. Finnish marketing can be characterized as soft spoken, unnecessarily modest, and perhaps even self-effacing. In the US you are downright bludgeoned with how great this or that brand is. Subtlety could mean failure within a loud, garish marketing environment where unimaginable amounts of money is spent on brand messaging. “Marketing” techniques, when compared across Finland and the US, symbolize yet again dramatic cultural differences…
While it may be true that you’ll rarely hear a Finn tooting their own horn (again, barring Suomi Hockey Championship celebrations 😉), in actuality, Finland has a perhaps an outsized contribution to what we think of as iconic global brands! Ironic. Turns out that just saying something is “the best” doesn’t necessarily make it true 😉 (are you listening current American Government “Administration”?). Finns (and global consumers of Finnish products) are above all else pragmatic. Function comes first and foremost. National / cultural pride comes quickly second. Price is important, but then flashy messaging, aspirational branding, etc.. come much further down the list.
But I don’t know ANY Finnish brands, you say…
Nokia, Rapala, Rovio, the Moomins, Fiskars, Finlandia, Arabia, Marimekko, Finlayson, Finnair, Iittala, Kone, Polar, Oura, Neste, Artek, Studio Sebastian Jansson, Stora Enso, Aalto + Aalto, Aarikka, Abloy, Fazer, Supercell, Hartwall, Landola, Linux, xylitol, UPM, Kyrö Napue, Ora, Wärtsilä, Pepsodent, Metso, Suunto, the kitchen over-sink drying rack, the Finnish school system, and anything Sauna-related.
And this list doesn’t include global corporations that are using Finland as major R&D hubs. The Finnish are instrumental in brands such as: Pfizer, GE Healthcare, Rolls-Royce, Bayer, Google, Merck, just to name a few…
Chances are that you are familiar with and perhaps even regularly use one or more of those Finnish brands or products! Long before living in Finland was my reality, I was employed by Nokia Siemens Networks, fished with Rapala lures, owned a Polar heart rate monitor, rode in Kone elevators, used Yale (Abloy) locks, extensively used the Linux OS, ingested sugar-free products containing xylitol, and certainly enjoyed taking saunas. You can only imagine how many more Finnish products I now know and use.
From a small Nordic country of only 5.5M people come many important products that positively impact the whole world.
Throughout upcoming blog posts, I think I’ll touch on a few of these iconic Finnish brands, just to help illustrate some additional insight into the country, the culture that contributed to them, and their impact.
Share if you know of and/or use anything Finnish!