Mimmi Gibson: The key to Gotland’s attractiveness and growth

In an interview with Mimmi Gibson, Business Strategist for Attractiveness and Marketing and Brand Manager for Region Gotland, we get an insight into her work in shaping Gotland as an attractive destination. Where her main mission is to increase Gotland’s fiscal power by attracting more residents to the island – and our conversation highlights her passion and work behind this goal. We have the pleasure of having Region Gotland as our client, and have invited Mimmi for her outstanding creative ability to create wonders in her role.

– If I were to boil down my mission to the single most important thing, it would be to increase the tax power on the island. That is, to get more people to move to Gotland. This means that my working days look very different and contain many different questions and challenges. This week I started in Denmark at a cruise membership and network meeting with about 70 other members and representatives of the various shipping lines and ports in the Baltic Sea. Another day deals with housing and living issues, where regional skills supply is on the agenda. The tools I use are innovation, collaboration, co-creation, insights, marketing and communication and the goal is that Gotland fulfills a meaningful purpose for residents, businesses and visitors. But it doesn’t stop there. Gotland must also contribute to the global good and earn a good reputation.

A year and a half has passed since she did her first shift in her current role at Region Gotland – a time she looks back on with positive eyes.

–  My time at Region Gotland has been enormously fun, hardworking and developing.
For me as a developer it’s a great fit. There are constantly new challenges. After being employed during the pandemic and when many questions were down or too low, I can safely say that it completely exploded in terms of jobs in the spring of 2022. It was like everyone woke up at the same time and many big changes happened.

Prized campaign

The summer of 2021 marked a long-awaited return to domestic travel for Swedes, following the severe pandemic restrictions. Many chose to explore Gotland, and it was a record summer for the island’s tourism industry. The Gotlanders stayed at home, while the part-time Gotlanders returned to their houses. But it increased pressure on the island’s nature and led to problems such as littering, noise, wear and tear and traffic congestion. In addition, the groundwater supply on the island was challenged.

The latter was the main problem – and needed a solution.

– We didn’t want to wave pointers, but find a new path and tone that provokes thought, starts the conversation and leads to behavior change. If it’s fun, it’s easier. There is a lot of research that shows that climate issues create passivity when we become intimidated and afraid. It is directly counterproductive and we wanted to go a different way and make it easy and fun to do the right thing.

It all resulted in the PR campaign “Gotland’s ugliest lawn”, a competition that the region launched to designate Gotland’s ugliest lawn. A way to give a humorous appreciation to those who take care and refrain from watering their plots.

The campaign spread across large parts of the world.

– It is a great experience to be part of the success that the campaign has created. I have so many times been deeply moved by the fantastic commitment shown around the world. There are so many who want to contribute, so many who care about our planet and our water.

The campaign idea not only resulted in reduced water consumption, but was also praised for its creativity. Among other things, the 100-watt communication award, the campaign won a silver egg and a bronze in the Clio Awards.

– Prizes and awards also mean a lot. It is a recognition of both concept, quality, creativity, implementation and impact. It gives motivation to work further, to want even more. It is also a clear signal to the own organization or industry to continue and legitimizes continued investments.

Gotland as a brand

How important is it for a region to work on its brand?

– Gotland is one of Sweden’s strongest place brands that many have a good relationship with as visitors, quite a few can imagine moving here and that is important for the island. Gotland and all regions need to attract competence, establishments and wonderful people who can live and develop the place into a place no one wants to leave. Other regions can cooperate and help each other on many issues, but as you know, we are located in the middle of the Baltic Sea with a very clear border of water around us. It makes us a little more vulnerable.

Mimmi highlights the importance of the association with sustainability and transition

–  Being associated with sustainability and transition is important to be able to attract the right type of establishments and competence, not only from Sweden and therefore this type of campaign with international distribution is effective from several aspects. Brand work is an important part of our regional development responsibility and it is a powerful tool that makes a big difference with relatively small funds.

What tips can you share when it comes to branding?

I try to be sincere and honest in my work with the brand. The love of the place and the values that lie charged in it are always the origin. But to be completely honest, some issues are hard to pin down. There may be interests that collide and governing documents that contradict each other. It can get lonely sometimes. In my everyday life, I have many stakeholders from the private, public and non-profit sectors to take into account. Then you need someone to discuss with. During the autumn, I will be part of a network with a focus on place branding, to find inspiration for the work and discuss challenges and opportunities with others who have similar assignments.

Having good partners, well on their feet with insights and knowledge about the brand makes me secure in my job. I practice asking for help and daring to be honest when I don’t understand or know enough about something. It can be tricky sometimes.

Hmm. Maybe you can make a competition about it too?


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