It’s all about the people


The brand of the Tampere higher education community is based on the idea that the world is shaped by people and that people solve problems. This is both a promise and a challenge. It has already impressed Sir David Attenborough among others.

Human Potential Unlimited.

This is the slogan of the Tampere higher education community, which was unveiled to community members at the end of April in a party held in Pakkahuone.

This simple sentence is the result of years of work as the construction of the HE community’s brand originally started a few years ago. At some point the work halted, but since the end of 2017, building the new visual branding went on full steam.

The work was exceptional because a brand is usually built on an existing strategy and vision. Or it is at least inspired by the name of the organisation. Now the brand, the name, and strategy were all developed at the same time, with a lot of urgency.

According to Brand Director Jaana Kaartinen from Tampere University of Technology, this was naturally a challenge but also a blessing.

“We had to create a visual branding that suited any name. If the name of the university had been known and if it had been Koski (Rapids), for example, it would have determined the visual branding. Now we were strongly guided by content and intent,” Kaartinen says.

Something others do not have

Human potential was selected as the point of the brand not only because it was repeated in the background studies, but also because no other university uses it.

“Virtually all universities in Finland and internationally regard the same issues important, such as solving social problems and problems of the future. Everyone also wants to train future experts. These aspects are also important for the HE community in Tampere, but we wanted to approach the issue from a different angle,” says Hanna-Leena Saarenmaa, director of the brand project.

People and humanity were recurring themes that emerged when the thoughts and ideas gathered via various surveys and workshops were examined. Both Kaartinen and Saarenmaa emphasise that the gist of the brand was specifically shaped by the proposals of the HE community members.

“The community was strongly involved from the beginning. Nearly two hundred students, over two hundred employees and around three hundred stakeholder representatives responded to the initial extensive brand survey. After that, people were invited to workshops and they were interviewed, for example, by telephone,” Kaartinen lists.

It was surprising that different organisations and groups expressed rather similar views.

“The strengths of the existing organisations were seen as building the cumulative strength of the new community,” Kaartinen adds.

“I am David.”

On the surface, “Human Potential Unlimited” seems a simple slogan entailing great promises.

“I first thought that this could not possibly be so simple. Gradually, the slogan started to feel bold. The idea is that with this statement we also challenge ourselves - and others - to solve fresh challenges,” Saarenmaa adds.

Before the unveiling, the message had already appealed to important parties. As the working group began to make the brand video, they wanted to include familiar international faces in addition to the community’s own experts. One of the calls the team made was to the world-famous nature documentarist Sir David Attenborough’s team. Or so they thought.

“We introduced ourselves and what we were after and asked if the person who answered the phone could relay Mr Attenborough the message that we hoped to use his face on our video,” Saarenmaa says.

The answer was surprising.

“The person at the other end told us that I'm David, and go ahead and use my face,” Saarenmaa says.

In return, Attenborough asked for a nominal donation to a charity of his choosing.

Did we just break Jodel?

The creators were also surprised by the university community’s positive reception of the brand. They had anticipated stormy memes which did not come.

“Obviously, people comment pleasantly face to face, but at the party we heard some guests talking about the brand in the ladies’ room. They praised it even though they did not know we were listening,” Saarenmaa says.

There were naturally other kinds of conversations on anonymous social media, but that also surprised.

“For example, memes were shared on Jodel, but eventually a really good conversation and analysis started. It was so good that we thought we might have broken Jodel,” Saarenmaa adds.

Text: Hanna Hyvärinen