Trends With: Hellman St Clair

Hellman St Clair is a strategic, creative consultancy, founded by Anna Hellman and Felicity Willetts. They work closely with brands to help them successfully navigate the major challenges that businesses and wider society experience today and in the future. Working with a highly skilled, diverse network of creatives, they take a multi-disciplinary approach to brand activation. They encourage the exploration of new models and working practices to deliver a personal, high end visual communication service to all their clients, fusing Nordic sensibilities with an International outlook.

Anna Hellman started her career in the advertising business, working for the iconic agency Paradiset. Her career has since focused on strategic marketing, branding and brand activation for global artists, brands and organisations including IKEA, Spotify, H&M, Sony, the Avicii Foundation, MTV,  Swedish Radio and Swedish Television. After a stint in LA, Anna returned to Stockholm as CEO of creative production company, Vanitas, which she ran for over a decade. 

Felicity Willets brings extensive international experience to Hellman St Clair having worked on productions all over the world. She has made feature films for the cinema, documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4, DR and CPH Dox. Her commercial productions have been made for a wide range of global brands including Adidas, Nintendo, Ikea and Visa with agencies such as JWT, TBWA and Wieden + Kennedy.

What trends do you see within your line of business?

We’re all now operating in an environment of perpetual change, driven in part by exponential developments in technology. The role of companies within this dynamic world is shifting at pace and there’s now a business imperative for brands to positively contribute to society.

#1 Brands can be an essential vehicle for change.

Yesterday (20th November, 2023) Apple, Microsoft and Amazon were named the top three in Interbrand’s respected report analyzing the best Global Brands of 2023. In an interview with Kathleen Hall, Chief Brand Officer at Microsoft, the crucial relationship between purpose, brand and the bottom line for business success is outlined. “Microsoft’s purpose is articulated with precision: to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more…..It’s a guiding philosophy that permeates every facet of the company, shaping decisions and driving transformative outcomes. Microsoft’s 2022 campaign, Tech for Good, highlights the role of technology in positive societal impact, and emphasizes responsible tech usage and innovation for social good”.

#2 Invest in brand to future-proof business.

We see that the best brands consistently work with long term messaging. They create distinct, lasting memories and gain long-term trust with consumers, becoming a continuous, salient presence in the market. Bernd Heinemann, Group Strategy, Marketing and Distribution Officer at Allianz, the world’s # 1 Insurer, (ranked # 31 in Interbrand’s report with a Brand value of 20.85 billion USD) reflects, “As our brand continues to grow, so does our role and responsibility to prepare people around the world for the best possible future. When the people at the top get it, the role of the brand goes beyond marketing to become a valuable part of business strategy”. A brand’s equity is integral to the long-term economic success of a company.

#3 Brand ́s voice is key

B2B-brands and brand product launches are seeking competitive advantage by operating in a more creative marketing space. Storytelling is at the heart of this. When brands identify the stories that shape them, they can make emotional connections and create consistent memories in the minds of their future customers, across every touchpoint.

#4 Sustainability 360o

Striving for sustainability is now a core expectation for clients and consumers. Brands are prioritizing ethical practices, championing sustainable initiatives, and communicating their commitment to a better future. It’s now a business imperative. Sustainability can be integrated into every aspect of the brand to positively and effectively create impact.

From your perspective, what are the greatest challenges right now?

Keeping businesses focused on transitioning to growing their brands sustainably whilst they tackle the immediate and very real stresses created by the current global economic and political situation, is difficult.

And, opportunities?

The pressure of knowing we need to make a transition towards a sustainable society and nurture new behaviours brings opportunity and sparks innovation. The most valuable brands in the world all have a clear sustainability agenda and act on it. “This is no time for change at the margins. Together we can transition to a carbon-neutral economy and usher in a new era of inclusive opportunity. This is a moment for ambition, cooperation and leadership.” Tim Cook, CEO, Apple. Apple came out as the as #1 in Interbrand’s report.

Hellman St Clair, works closely with global research and foresight agencies, alongside Academic Institutions within Sweden and in the UK. If you would like to find out more about our work and how we can help you be more creative, please get in touch.