Aalborg Teater, renowned as one of Denmark’s premier theatrical institutions, embarked on a transformative journey to rediscover its core narrative and redefine its role in contemporary society, forging a stronger connection with its audience.
Situated in Northern Jutland, Denmark, Aalborg Teater, a publicly-owned entity, has been a pillar of the cultural scene, offering acclaimed theatre experiences to residents of ‘Nordjylland.’ However, when we commenced our collaboration with Aalborg Teater, we observed that while artistic ambitions were high, the institution’s connection to its audience had become somewhat blurred. Something that an external analysis confirmed, revealing that Aalborg Teater should have a more distinct profile within the Danish theatre landscape.
Navigating relevance in a crowded market
In today’s landscape, where cultural institutions compete for their audience’s free time amid a myriad of alternatives such as Netflix, gaming, and shopping, as well as a thriving cultural sector, it is imperative to find one’s raison d’être. Questions regarding your purpose, relevance, target audience, and unique value proposition become essential in such a competitive market. All this while being mindful that most cultural institutions must balance their purpose with commercial objectives.
To address these critical questions, Aalborg Teater and its board reached out to us, and together, we began to uncover the authentic DNA and identity of Aalborg Teater, setting a solid foundation for their new strategy. To align all the approximately 200 employees, the theatre’s leadership had to develop a shared understanding of their reason for existence, the core elements that make them unique and their future offerings. To secure enduring buy-in, we collaborated closely with the leadership team, the board, the municipality, and staff representatives.
Identity and the benefit of knowing who you are
Identity is more than just a buzzword for the marketing and communications team. Identity is, to us, a holistic concept that becomes relevant in all aspects of a company that wishes to achieve a goal. When a business, organization, or brand comprehends its true identity and core narrative, these elements can be systematized and utilized as a guiding compass. This compass steers management and, ideally, permeates the entire organization to ensure a common point of departure.
Identity begins with Why
“Start with Why” – the title of Simon Sinek’s 2009 bestseller – remains profoundly relevant today. We initiated our journey by mapping the strategic commercial objective and uncovering the “Why.” Within the tension between these two aspects, we facilitated a process through which Aalborg Teater identified its core points of differentiation. At the time, Aalborg Teater predominantly presented dramatic theatre, diverging from the prevailing trend favouring more entertaining productions. Thus, we had to explore why this was so important to the audience. It led to a compelling discussion about where in modern society we dare to address complex issues – the ones that are difficult, politically incorrect, and even painful. Yet, they are also the ones that facilitate personal growth and enlightenment. Aalborg Teater found that their purpose was to encourage reflection by putting the spotlight on life’s essential questions condensed in their “Why”: Casting light on the big questions in life.
Design as the strongest marker of change
With Aalborg Teater’s unique identity firmly established, we translated it into a visual design language that mirrors the theme of ambiguity. Life’s essential questions seldom possess single answers; they are nuanced and multi-layered. This nuance found its expression through the visual cues from a noteboard.
Furthermore, we supported Aalborg Teater in implementing the identity throughout the organization. This involved redefining their position in the Danish theatre landscape, revising the communication strategy, and formulating new ways to promote the theatre and its performances across various channels.
A night of celebration
Aalborg Teater invited a large group to a grand ‘TEAATER fest’ on a Thursday evening in January to mark the unveiling of its identity-driven strategy and visual identity. The event was a magnificent showcase of the theatre’s strength, creativity, and capabilities, with sneak peeks of upcoming productions alongside the introduction of the “new Aalborg Teater” – TEAATRET.
Thank you, Aalborg Teater, for allowing us to participate in this transformative journey. It takes a lot of courage for an institution with 145 years of history to look deeply into “who you really are,” discover its true identity, and let it guide the continued development and expression.
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