Ørsted: Inspiring the world to run entirely on green energy
Ørsted is ranked as one of the most sustainable companies in the world. And communication design played an important part in this transition. With their new name and visual identity, a strong vision and virtual journey into space, Ørsted is walking the walk, but also talking the talk.
Ørsted’s Green Transformation
Troels Bjørn Thorn is the Head of Global Branding & Marketing at Ørsted. He is called upon frequently by companies that want to emulate Ørsted’s successful transition to a sustainable brand.
Here are a few of the points he tells them:
“Rule number one is ‘get the proofs right’. When we embarked on our rebranding process it was the culmination of a 10-year process that entailed a total transformation of the company’s strategy and business. When we launched the new brand, we had arrived at a destination in real terms where we could prove that the business in its core was about sustainability. So, when we came out with the new name, Ørsted, and our whole ‘Love Your Home’ campaign, we did so on solid ground.”
“That said, I think it is important to see creative professionals not as someone who are just adding the final touch and selling the message, but as someone who can really accelerate a transformation. With the tools of communication design – in the broadest sense – we have the possibility to build an attractive destination. In our case, we experienced that first-hand when Ørsted communicated the vision of ‘let’s create a world that runs entirely on green energy’. That was a destination and an aspirational message that just made all stakeholders come alive. I will claim that it really speeded up the transformation process. Because it was bold. Because it harboured a promise of a better place than where we were,” Thorn continues.
Troels Thorn goes on to explain the way Ørsted has been working with the whole rebranding process: “One of the major learnings of this process has been how to work with agencies. Most large global corporations are in-housing competences, this goes for us as well. In Ørsted we have had a strong inhouse team working with all dimensions of communication design. We have sourced agencies to work with us in a fully integrated partnership model, where some ideas arise inhouse and are executed by an agency with special competences and others are carried out in a working relationship where the agencies become part of the team, really. The agencies we have been working with – many of them based in Denmark – have been extremely good at adapting to this development. Instead of agencies selling us projects and pitching ideas, we have focused on the problem at hand, together. And we have worked in a much more seamless, integrated model. My advice to agencies would be to understand this way of working and fully adapt to it. Think problem solving. Work as partners”, Thorn concludes.
360º VR Space Safari
How do we inspire a greater sense of self-awareness for our planet and create a sense of responsibility to preserve and maintain our shared home?
That was the starting point when Ørsted came up with the idea of creating a Virtual Reality Space Safari, to let people experience what astronauts call ‘the overview effect’: the psychological shift that happens when you suddenly see Earth from afar.
In cooperation with Copenhagen-based VR and AR production studio Khora, Ørsted created a VR experience that virtually transports people to outer space. In cooperation with European and American astronauts, they recreated the experience of going on a space mission – and the feeling astronauts get, when they look down on planet Earth as one, shared home for mankind.
The experience premiered at Climate Week in New York City, September 2019 where global decision makers sporting VR headsets could get the fully immersive experience. The objective? That they would feel a greater sense of responsibility and speed up climate action. And the Space Safari has simultaneously been made available online in four versions, narrated by a British, a German a US and a Danish astronaut. Over six million people have gone on the virtual Space Safari. And if you explore the comments to the video on YouTube, they show that the concepts way to connect our own small home to our shared global home really makes an emotional impact and resonates with people from all over the world.
Khora is a leading Scandinavian Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) production studio, creating cutting edge content within multiple application areas. The company is exploring the value potential of VR and AR through meaningful collaborations and partnerships, working within multiple industries, such as renewable energies, the built environment and healthcare. Khora has a deep understanding of XR-technologies and of how and why businesses and institutions should be working within these emerging mediums.
Ørsted has been named The World’s Most Sustainable Energy Company for three years running by the Corporate Knights Global 100 Index.
Space safari won the Danish Design Award 2020 in two categories. ‘Message Understood’ and ‘People’s choice’.
Space Safari also achieved a ‘highly recommended’ listing at the DRUM EXPERIENCE AWARDS 2020.
Ørsted's corporate visual identity was a finalist for the Danish Design Award 2019. Design by Ørsted’s internal design team in collaboration with Kontrapunkt.
Troels Bjørn Thorn
Head of Global Branding & Marketing, Ørsted
How does your company contribute to the improvement of the quality of life?
To make a genuine difference for the people we engage with, we need to ask a very basic but important question: ‘what problem do we want to solve here?’. That is a part of Ørsted’s DNA: that what we do should better the lives of individuals, communities and the planet. And it is reflected in the way we work with communication design as well. We need to design things for a reason. It cannot just be aesthetics. A chair needs to first and foremost be good for the human body to sit in. When we designed our new visual identity, we purposefully chose to heed a functionalistic approach to design.
If you take a look at our logo for example, all superfluous ideas and details are peeled away – just like the fundamental features of functionalism. The logo is simply our name written in our own font, which again is inspired by geometric fonts from the Danish Design era. Our whole design system is built upon the idea that form follows function without unnecessary details.
What also characterized the Danish functionalism was the visionary and human approach. The designers back then urged to create a better world for people which fits perfectly with the Ørsted vision.
How do you learn from other creative disciplines?
I have never quite understood the way the creative disciplines are divided up. To me, it is all about: ‘what problem do we have to solve, and then apply all the professional disciplines and tools we have at our disposal’. In our rebranding effort, we have drawn upon a long range of disciplines from experience design, copywriting, music and VR in everything to creating the Space safari to how the experience should be of entering our headquarters for the first time to how we do a capital markets day.
Ørsted is ranked as one of the most sustainable companies in the world. But it was not always so. Ørsted, under its previous name, used to be one of Europe’s most fossil fuel dependent energy companies. But the company transformed itself from a coal-firing utility to a renewable energy company and the leading developer of offshore wind. And communication design played an important part in the transition.
Billion EUR, Ørsted's Revenue in 2020
Year of divesting oil & gas business and changing name to Ørsted
- 9,9 GW
Offshore wind capacity by 2022