When I say the word ‘probably’, I’d wager that a good proportion of you reading this would think of Carlsberg. ‘Probably the best lager in the world’ is one of the most famous, and most often quoted, brand slogans of our times. Truth be told however, Carlsberg has had a tough time of it of late. With a seemingly endless array of exotic world and craft beers arriving on the scene, it’s been struggling to live up to such a bold claim.

Something needed to be done in order to reignite interest in this great brand. Something that would rekindle the love we’ve all had for it over the years and re-build its credibility. In short, something that encouraged consumers to believe, once again, that Carlsberg is the best lager in the world…probably! 

That’s where Razor came in. Working closely with Carlsberg – and with their creative agencies (branding, design, and comms) over an 18-month time period – we embarked on a collective mission to help consumers fall back in love with Carlsberg. Pivotal to this was the need to create a more authentic and relevant brand story.

As luck would have it, there’s recently been a huge appetite and intrigue in all things Scandi in the UK. The Danish concept of hygge for example has been everywhere – in bookshops, in newspaper supplements, coffee houses and fashion stores up and down the country. But back when it was a mere glint in the eye of publishing editors, we were busy exploring what it meant to consumers – together with the other aspects of ‘Danishness’. 

So, we had ‘Scandimania’ sweeping the nation and we had a Danish beer brand currently not well known for its Danish roots. It wasn’t too difficult to join the dots and see the opportunity. Consumer research firmly validated the enormous potential for a provenance-based platform for Carlsberg. The question was…how could we best activate it?

We decided to run a ‘cultural intelligence session’. This involved bringing together a group of Danes based in London – people with enough experience of both cultures – to help enrich our understanding of the Danish way of life and, importantly, how it compares and contrasts to life in the UK. This was an informal workshop session which included clients and agency folk over a few beers (and gluten-free Danish snacks). Not only was the workshop immensely illuminating, throwing up dimensions of Danish-ness we’d not even conceived, but we also got to hang out with a bunch of cool people! If you’ve never met one, the Danish are thoroughly, thoroughly nice people!

Next up was a further round of consumer research in the UK. Turns out that most Brits struggle to tell the difference between Denmark and Sweden, can’t tell you what Denmark’s landscape looks like (clue: it isn’t mountainous), nor what culture they’ve exported to the world (no Lars von Tier, no Vinterberg). That said, the UK has a very positive view of Scandi people; smart, well educated, happy, forthright, and stylish. In fact, two phrases that really hit the spot when trying to sum them up were ‘effortlessly stylish’ and ‘refreshingly direct’; both of which were deemed to have potential for aligning with Carlsberg.   

Once the Scandi platform was confirmed, it was agreed that Carlsberg Export would be the best vehicle for the new positioning. Despite falling off the radar somewhat with consumers, it was still seen as a premium brand with a known Danish backstory (derived from historic advertising). It commands a great deal of respect in terms of product and consistently outperforms many of its rivals in blind taste tests. This ‘diamond in the rough’ was therefore felt to be the perfect solution to leverage the provenance story most effectively.

It was clear that if Carlsberg Export and the Carlsberg brand stood any chance of being reappraised, it would need a radically new visual identity and comms platform for the brand. Research involved us testing various executions of font, bottle, and glassware evoking the minimalist beauty and style of Scandinavia (using various iterations of wood, wood-effects, pure white backdrops, brushed steel etc). This led to the creation of a final design route that has gone way beyond expectations in terms of delivering authenticity and quality cues, whilst carving out a truly differentiated positioning for the brand. In tandem with this, Carlsberg also developed a launch advertising campaign.

As the Carlsberg team prepares to introduce its new Danish positioning, we at Razor are immensely proud to have had a hand in the development of its new identity. We’ve used research creatively and flexibly throughout the journey, listening carefully to consumers and applying insights sensitively.   

We’re really hoping the Danish positioning will re-ignite some love for the brand. In fact, we think it’s a winner. Probably.