How we helped make Sweden closer
Sweden is far – moving people and stuff around almost always means going the extra mile. Roads, rail, and waterways are all part of the infrastructure that connects us and holds our country together. They enable us to travel, to meet new people, and they facilitate everything from the daily commute to freight deliveries. The Swedish Transport Association is responsible for Sweden’s infrastructure working the way it should – that is, providing transportation for everyone. Since 2018, the association has been on a journey of its own together with us at Gullers Grupp. The goal is to transform its public image from that of a scattered government agency drowning in IT, to a leading force for change in our communities.
What we did
Public opinion of The Swedish Transport Association changed drastically between 2017 and 2021: trust increased 55 percent. That number can be explained by several factors, for example a decrease in the number of crises or bigger accidents. Another explanation could be a key change in the communicative strategy, from focusing on railways, concrete, and tunnelling, to highlighting the challenges that the STA can solve to better serve the people. A change from rational messaging to emotional pleas that not only build external trust, but also internal pride, establishing the STA as an attractive workplace, and a reliable business partner, for anyone who want to help build a more sustainable society.
In 2017, only a third of the Swedish people said they had faith in The Swedish Transport Association to do its job. Low awareness of the STA’s work certainly contributed to that, and the fact that different subdivisions – even individual projects – had their own comms strategy and messaging only served to worsen the effect. The following year, the STA was tasked by the government to make a historic investment in Sweden’s rail network, roads, and waterways – a massive undertaking that could serve as the perfect time to unite its messaging and communication. One STA, with one common purpose, communicated to the public through one communicative concept.
The brief to Gullers Grupp was fairly straight-forward: develop a brand identity and communicative strategy that shows the sheer scope of all that the STA does, and the important role it plays in our communities. Achieving this was important for two reasons. First, in order to increase awareness around the complexity of the STA’s operations and change how the public perceives its work on the infrastructure, and second, to rally all the coworkers to the cause. The entire organization was also in need of recruiting several thousand new coworkers, but faced a headwind on the highly competitive job market.
Building on the STA’s vision “Everyone arrives smoothly, in a sustainable and safe way”, and with the public’s and potential recruits’ preconceptions and lack of awareness in mind, we made two key strategic decisions: one, to shift the focus from specifics about railways, concrete, and tunnelling, to how the STA serves the community, and two, to use more emotional messaging in order to build internal pride and attract new coworkers and partners who want to help build a more sustainable society.
We settled on the overarching concept “We make Sweden closer”, with a campaign centered around photos that capture moments that were made possible thanks to the STA: a group of cyclists on an adventurous ride in the archipelago, a traveling library bus drawing crowds in a small community, a family on a road trip, and many more.
Thanks to our concept, combined with a new brand identity and messaging platform, the STA could more clearly define its role in our society and communicate individual projects as part of a whole. The impact on public perception, and the attractiveness of the STA as an employer, is apparent: The Swedish Transport Association has won several awards within HR, including “Innovator of the Year” at the Talent Excellence and Summit Awards 2018 and “Employer of the Year/Branding Manager” at the Spring Awards 2019.