CJF: Rejuvenating Jazz!

Thomas loves jazz!

He has been fortunate to not only work for Blue Note but also be able to share his passion with others as member of the board of Copenhagen International Jazz Festival.


Thomas already knew most of the board members when he joined the festival. For years he had tried to convince them to rejuvenate the festival.

Eventually the board got tired of listening to him and asked him to join the festival so he could initiate the project himself.

Being the driving force behind the rejuvenating process it was obvious for me to choose Annette as consultant.

We had already worked together on various projects for 15 years – officially and privately.  And we had lived with the festival as true Copenhageners, as dedicated concert goers and as semi professionals through my time at Tuborg and Blue Note. Thomas remembers.

Annette not only knows the universe – she loves music.

And more important she has a strategic and intuitive approach to ‘political’ projects which was essential in order to reach the consensus that was necessary to get a long lasting identity.

What Thomas means is…  most of the board members were musicians, music lovers and cultural politicians who were alien to our branding and marketing terms…

Having a lot of experience in working with big organisations – from banks to industry organizations – Annette was the perfect choice. Further more she had access to very relevant creative resources through her network.

This was a very interesting, but also challenging group of people to work with, Annette goes on.

I felt it was important to create a joyful and playful process that ensured the involvement from the mostly creative board members.

Unlike other projects Annette was involved in at that time – there we’re no panic.

Together with a good colleague I designed a series of workshops with lots of visual materials that really to got all the members involved and revealed a lot of ideas and valuable insights... 

The objectives in these ‘playing sessions’ were to get input for developing the festivals brand platform and a a result get the board to agree on the brand essence and mission statement.

To reach consensus about the brand essence and mission was not too difficult. The hard part was identifying their challenges – or rather get consensus about them.

I got around that by making a image survey among the festivals stakeholders, audience etc.

This survey identified the festival’s challenges!

Copenhagen Jazz Festival’s mission was to inspire and enhance the interest in jazz. But this was not how the outside world saw the festival. To them the festival was very traditional and lacking diversity.

Copenhagen Jazz Festival was – and is – one of the most diverse events in Europe with a huge variety of elements that inspired and challenged the audience’s perception of jazz.

Because the festival didn’t have a  a clear visual identity, that linked the young and trendy activities – like future sound of jazz, Children’s Jazz etc.  – with the most visible PR-activities like the Beer Belly jazz parade through Copenhagen’s major tourist hubs, the very visual Annual Jazz Poster the old Danish Art Icons etc, most people saw the festival as very traditional.

From then on it was easy. By defining a few action points the festival management could deal with a lot themselves.

Most of all the festival needed a new visual identity to express the diversity, interaction, playfullness etc . And a brand architecture that showed the connection and at the same time the differences among the different activities.

The visual Identity was solved by e-Types with Jonas Hecksner as the driving force.

Jonas is not only one of Europe’s best designers – he is  a dedicated Jazz lover and experienced in the jazz world – he had also worked with Thomas before on one of his Jazz Releases. Something I didn’t know…. But that’s another story Annette finish.


Jazz is not dead. It just smells funny.