How insights-driven communication can help your brand thrive
Notes on why we run an editorial agency.
10 Oct 2023

Hello and welcome back to Observations, written in our northern hometown of Umeå, where we have an office and where I have my family. It’s always a treat to visit our Creative Director Erik Olofsson Haavikko’s design studio in the central city.

Quick note: in two weeks we are hosting our first Beauty Innovation Talks in Stockholm, with several high-profile speakers talking about beauty tech. Sign up here.

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Our three pillars of building a brand.

A storytelling brand

It’s been strategy week here at Scandinavian MIND. A couple of days are blocked in the calendar when Erik and I sit down to evaluate if we are on the right path commercially, how we can re-balance our resources in order to achieve our targets better, and what needs to be done in order to better server our community of readers, partners, and clients. 

As always, what is two days in the calendar, becomes two half-days in reality, as client meetings, production issues, and business offers always creep into the agenda. That’s how it should be, I think.

Since last spring, we decided to take the leap and market the agency arm of our business more publicly. We launched our agency website, and started, ever so slightly, mentioning it into our newsletter audience. When I speak to my friends in the agency industry, they are appalled by the fact that we don’t talk more about the business that drives the majority of our revenue. I guess I’ve always been protective of the editorial integrity of Scandinavian MIND, so much so that people don’t even know about our services arm. 

Having a dual business of a magazine/agency is not uncommon. Many fashion magazines that grew out of the peak-print era follow this model: the team behind Fantastic Man did COS editorial operation and 032c was behind the content at online retailer Ssense. Famed magazine entrepreneur Tylér Brulé actually ran his agency Winkreative before he started Monocle. Larger magazine publishers have dabbled with this for a good two decades now, building content agencies on top of strong editorial brands, from Vogue to Wired, and about 90% of my friends from magazine publishing have shifted to content agencies in the last decade. 

So what role does Scandinavian MIND play in this whole thing? 

Well, for one, we never set out to do custom publishing. I want to focus all my editorial energy on my own platform. For our clients, it’s more interesting to approach it from an entrepreneurial point of view, to become an extension of their strategic and commercial goals, and to help wherever we can, from creating pitch decks to organising launch events. That’s why we call ourselves a strategic and creative partner to innovative entrepreneurs and visionary startups. 

Naturally, a big part of our offering is circled around content production, but we’ve learned that brands don’t come to us for our storytelling skills, they come to us because of the knowledge about, insights into, and network we have established in their specific industry, often in the intersection of tech and lifestyle. 

We’ve labelled this offering “Insights-driven communication”, and thus found a process to translate the knowledge and network we build through Scandinavian MIND into something that provides added value for our clients. 

This is an approach that pretty much any business in any industry benefits from applying. Especially in transformational times, where new technologies and new data create rapidly shifting consumer behaviours. 

Being insights-driven means continuously creating content about what’s happening in your industry. It’s about gathering data, keeping track of new trends, and interviewing thought-leaders in your field. 

The reasons for doing this are several. Here is a framework for how to think about it:

1. Knowledge about the future
Gathering intelligence about a specific industry or sector puts you in a pole position to understand where the future is headed. This gives you an edge compared to your competition. It also keeps you on your feet, so you can act on new trends and important changes in your sector. 

2. Research creates content
Packaging our findings as content is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader in your field. Use your learning to create articles, white papers, podcasts, and reports, and then repurpose that into short-form social media content. Rinse and repeat, and you’ll find yourself at the top of the heap. 

3. Content becomes network
Creating an ongoing conversation with leading people in your field – through articles or podcasts — is a great way to widen your network and enhance your credibility. One of the most flattering things for people is to be interviewed. You’d be surprised how many people say yes when you ask, even if it’s just for your own website. Putting people on a pedestal and grilling them on their expertise is a fast way to gather insights and at the same time grow your own network. Just let the law of reciprocity do its magic and you’ll notice how your own brand grows stronger. 

We will be sharing more content on brand building in the near future. Stay tuned.

Reading list

• My colleague Johan Magnusson held the moderator mic during CIFF in August. Listen to our Beauty Innovation Talks here.

• Don’t miss our friend Fredrik Ekström’s new report The NXT Sustainable Consumer, focusing on Gen Z consumer habits and their increasing demands of responsibility.