Rebranding of the Danish Radio Concert Hall


DR Koncerthuset (The Danish Radio Concert Hall) is collaborating with Stagis as their primary advisor to help develop the identity and rebrand the Koncerthuset brand. We will be assisting the management team as well as the branding and marketing team in defining the purpose and core narrative of the concert hall as well as guide the development of the venue and social experience before and after each concert. The aim is to balance 100 years of tradition and history with the need and ambition for a modern, vibrant and contemporary live concert brand where audiences of all ages want to go to participate in concerts as well as social events. But how do you define a clear and purposeful brand that can embrace all genres and appeal to any audience from small children to seniors while avoiding the mainstream? Can we develop a brand that has edge and serves all?

As the Danish Broadcasting Corporation decided to build new headquarters in the 1990s an ambitious vision of a new concert hall was initiated. The idea was to embrace classical as well as contemporary music, record music and TV shows and host concerts in a setting with world class acoustics – and above all, a brand that serves all of Denmark as the project as well as broadcast and orchestras are funded by tax payers. Through an architectural competition the DR Koncerthuset brand was born with the ambition of creating one of the best concert halls in the World, tightly connected to the national TV and radio production as well as the heritage of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. The winner of the project was the World famous French architect Jean Nouvel and after years of difficult development the creative and ambitious building was finished in 2009.

A new ambitious brand was born but already before the opening it was considered a catastrophe. The budget had almost tripled and was described by one tabloid as “Denmarks most expensive madhouse: From 600 million to 1,6 billion”. A brand that most wanted to dissociate from and one General Secretary wanted to sell it all for 1 Danish kroner just to get rid of it. Many things have changed since the difficult beginning and Koncerthuset is now not only considered a very important venue at an international level for all sorts of live music experiences but also houses the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, The Danish Radio Big Band, and several choirs, among them the very popular Danish National Girls’ Choir. But maybe the variety, complexity and contrast is both a blessing and a curse. The brand is delivering such a diverse set of experiences and messages that it’s difficult to decode what the DNA of the house is. Besides, most concerts are being promoted and sold in the brand name of the artists and the venue is a less important message. For some venues, including museums and concert halls, the name of the venue itself is just as good a reason to go as the actual artist on stage or on display.

Jean Nouvel’s design of the concert house is quite distinct and gives the audience and people working in the building a range of very different impressions and spaces. The character of the building is vastly different when you see the outside, a blue cubical container, or you see the inside of it, raw, grey concrete – or the heart of the house, the wooden, warm, and organically shaped concert hall which seats 1.800 people. The contrasts are extreme and not all of the guests appreciate the outside space and lobby which one architectural online magazine described as an airport in the 1940s. The architect collaborated with the World famous acoustics designer Yasuhisa Toyota. The house has three large recording studios at the lower level, each very different in size, sound, materials, and expression and are used to host concerts and events as well.

The house makes one quarter of the entire DR Byen (“DR Town”), the massive building stock of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, where a large portion of Denmark’s national radio and tv programs are developed and produced. As such DR Koncerthuset is an integral part of the national broadcasting organization both in physical, political, and economic ways. Part of the foundation of Koncerthuset is that the concerts of the in-house orchestras and choirs are broadcast, which comes from almost 100 years of tradition of broadcasting live classical music on the radio. The other more recent part of the activities is hundreds of concerts with contemporary pop, rock and hip hop artists, and corporate events. And that leads us back to the rebranding of Koncerthuset. What kind of brand can host and facilitate that variety of artists, events, and audience and still act as one personality and communicate with a coherent voice? How do you succeed in being a multifaceted house that talks to everyone but avoid being irrelevant to most? It’s a branding paradox for many large organizations and to a cultural institution like Koncerthuset in particular.

The project was initiated this spring and will continue throughout the year as we collaborate with the management team as well as the branding, marketing, and sales team to redefine and reshape the core narrative, identity, and brand of the house. The outcome of the process is likely to continuously effect events, outdoor activities, the restaurant and bar areas, the communications of the house, and many other aspects of becoming a contemporary, vibrant and active Concert Hall that serves a wide Danish and international audience.

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