The various needs of the different target markets,
strengthening the common brand image and major productions
carried out effectively on board – these were the challenges
that Viking Line and Keksi Agency decided to solve together.
The journey has been a rewarding learning path, confirms Viking Line Head of Central Marketing Håkan Sourander and Keksi Agency CEO Jenni-Justiina Niemi.
How did it all start?
"A wide variety of people within our company use the same image material, and sometimes it’s really difficult to work and satisfy the needs of all of these people, different countries and cultures. Before we had no proper image strategy, so it was often just a matter of taste whether an image was suitable or not.
We needed a commonly approved image concept that is the same for everyone and defines the Viking Line brand look. We had to lay down the criteria of what and how we want to communicate with our images, and what our common line is.
During our meetings Keksi Agency CEO Jenni earned my trust and understood our needs very quickly. I truly value her vast experience on the matter and understanding of all the production stages. She gained my confidence early on and Keksi Agency felt like a good choice."
How was the image concept made?
“We carried out a preliminary survey with the marketing managers in Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia and Åland Islands. Also, we organised two effective workshops with various tasks, where the objective was to shape a common approach. In the image concept, we specified not only the style and content but also the production process and annual planning, amongst other things."
How did the method work for you?
"We found the workshops very important. They had a catalytic impact and launched the process inside the company. Everyone understood what it was all about and how difficult it is to get the necessary components in place if everyone looks at things only from their own point of view. Now we understand truly how important it is to have common imagery and tone of voice. Simply put, we internalised that we have only one product and that all our different target groups come together on the very same ships."
How are the productions going now?
"We have produced images with Keksi Agency in Finland, Sweden, Estonia and on international waters between these countries. This has saved us a huge amount of time. Now, all we have to do is to brief Keksi Agency, who takes it from there and delivers our vision. I value the work and commitment of Keksi Agency producer Kata Niemi. She examines alternatives, then suggests solutions and is proactive in everything she does. My presence at the photo shoots is not even necessary, and still, I get what I want.
One of the concept goals was to establish a systematic and easy image production process. We certainly achieved this goal. We get diverse image material that satisfies everyone's needs."
"Planning is everything. It's quite a puzzle to organise a photo production on board. There are so many things at play, such as route timetables, time zones and weather conditions, and you must take the actual passengers into account. To give you an example, communication at sea between the photo crew and the models requires good planning as mobile phones and walkie-talkies have no signal. The stylist needs to have a systematic approach when there are a hundred different outfits in the cabin and the models need to change smoothly between the different scenes. Our team works well together, and everyone keeps their eyes on the goal."
What have you learned on your common journey?
"The different target market cultures is a challenge in terms of image content. Swedes are broad-minded, Estonians more conservative, and Finns somewhere in between. This is all taken into account in how alcohol and various ethnic groups are represented in the images, for example.
The variety of routes and trips also pose a challenge. The routes between Estonia and Finland, and Sweden and the Åland Islands are like bus routes, while others are filled with party-goers, and yet others are favoured by families with children. It is sometimes difficult to find images that fit all the markets, and that's why we have plenty of image variation.
It doesn’t make sense to do everything yourself. It was a relief to find a good partner. In retrospect, perhaps the first photo production could have been smaller to ensure that we had a shared vision. Putting visual matters into words is difficult, so image workshops cannot have too many concrete examples.”
"The importance of workshops and clear communication is crucial in this kind of international cooperation. We have also learned more about production details, and fortunately, this learning process is ongoing."
Was it worth it?
”Oh, yes. Producing images is a major investment, so it’s important for us that Keksi Agency is an expert in image production. If we did the work ourselves, we wouldn't do it at all as well as Keksi Agency. Now we can use the images in multiple channels, contexts and countries for a long time, so we get a huge value for our money.
I recommend Keksi Agency to anyone who wants to get high-quality images with little effort and with a reliable and truly good partner. First you have to know what you want, of course. This is where Keksi Agency will guide you – they’ll help you in clarifying and encapsulating your real needs and then in satisfying them."