Abstract: Finnish Design, Functionality, and Ease: Brand Management in the Finnish Household Product Industry from the 1960s to the 1980s

Jaakko Autio


This paper examines the role of brand management in four Finnish companies producing glass and ceramics for households. During the period from the 1960s to the 1980s, these companies faced increasing international competition due to the opening of the economy. Thus, the role of branding—or at the time visualizing of the products—became increasingly important. This paper presents a new insight into the role of brand behavior based mainly on three empirical data sets: archival material on strategic decision making of the companies, marketing material of these companies, and business linkages and co-operation between Finnish household product companies. Methodology and concepts of my study rise in interaction between empirical observation and the existing literature of brand management and design management. The brand management is not always clearly formulated in the company discourse; thus it is important to mirror the data with the practice. New findings from the household product industry show that innovations in brand management arise not only from the new managerial doctrines introduced in the 1970s, but also from the company heritage and symbolic values of design. Also, the importance of economic changes is fundamental. International competition and through that, decreasing share of the domestic market, forced the companies to sharpen their profile.