The fitness section has been a great success both in the newspaper and on the web site. It has grown extremely fast and is already one of our top three concepts. But it had neither been developed nor launched if it weren't for the Schibsted Brand Academy!”

These words come from Gard Steiro, news editor of Bergens Tidende, the main regional newspaper in Bergen and the western part of Norway.

He and his colleagues participated on the Schibsted Brand Academy last spring. The academy is a program where insight, brand-building and product development are in focus. The participants come from all the Scandinavian companies in the Schibsted Media Group. One of the success criteria of the program is that managers from both the editorial and the commercial sides of the media houses participate together. Another success criterion is that every group (company) has to work on their own project during all four gatherings. Several of the projects from the Schibsted Brand Academy have been launched after the program was finished. This means that not only does the academy strengthen the skills and competence of the participants, but it also produces several success products and concepts.

The success story from Bergens Tidende is one example from 2010.

Bergens Tidende has a very strong position in its market. To grow and strengthen their position even more, the key to success is innovation and brand-building. When Gard Steiro and his colleagues joined the Schibsted Brand Academy they decided to bring along a very challenging project that they could work on during all the group work sessions. The ambition was to develop a local-oriented fitness and hiking offer (editorial) to the people of Bergen. Through the academy they could follow the optimal recipe for a product development project.

First of all, they collected relevant and important insight both when it comes to training and hiking habits, how people live their lives, and how they search for this kind of training information. Then they did a proper segmentation job to decide who would be their most important target groups, and what the main drivers of choice to these target groups would be.

Having decided this, it was easier to define a unique and relevant brand positioning. Normally this may be the most challenging part of all brand-building issues. But if you have done a proper insight and segmentation job, it is not that complicated. It is all about making sure that you are relevant and attractive to your target groups. And that your offer is distinct and that it appears to be unique compared to your competitors. Just as important brand positioning is also about what you are not going to be. So it helps making a clear and efficient brand strategy.

With the brand positioning in place, Gard Steiro and his team had to decide on the name and brand architecture. Was this going to be a product branded under the mother brand (Bergens Tidende) — or not? They ended up with a sub-brand solution, “BT Sprek” (Bergens Tidende Fit). I want to mention that they also made a very good plan for integrated marketing communication that they have further developed after they launched the concept.

At the end of the program it was time for product development. The main focus on this session is the “Doblin-model,” which means that you have to think innovation in a wider perspective than just product performance.

Among many other ideas that appeared during this session, they came up with ideas for new business models and companies and organizations that they should cooperate with to strengthen their offering.

It is impressive to see all the great ideas that they actually have developed and launched. One example is the editorial covering of the world`s steepest hill run competition, which is in Bergen every autumn: the “Stoltzekleiven.” In the newspaper on the BT Fit section they ran articles that were very informative and inspirational with a lot of photos, maps and facts. On the web site the users could follow one of the runners live since he was carrying a video camera, and they could compare their own results with everybody else. The audience enjoyed it a lot: “I have never participated in the Stoltze run before, but now I got tempted” and “it was very interesting and relevant, and had a fun tone of voice,” etc. The response to both the newspaper articles and the web site was very positive (both traffic-wise and commercial-wise).

They even got response from the Norwegian Prime Minster, Jens Stoltenberg. He got so inspired from what he read that he wanted to run the “Stoltzekleiven” himself. So “BT Sprek” is not only making the inhabitants of Bergen more fit, but even the Prime Minister!

So Gard Steiro and his team have done a great job developing “BT Sprek” into an innovative concept with a strong brand and a strong sense of social responsibility.

What more can a brand academy wish for?