Episode 199

Fredrik Öst and Erik Kockum, SNASK Branding Agency

Published on: 19th September, 2022

We are back for another great interview on our podcast on how to unlock your world of creativity. Our guests today join us on our around-the-world journey where we talk to creative practitioners about how they get inspired and how they organize ideas. And most of all, how they gain the confidence and the connections to launch their work out into the world. Today we have the pleasure to  travel to one of my favorite cities in the world, Stockholm, Sweden, to have a chat with Fredrik and Erik of the SNASK agency

SNASK is an internationally renowned creative agency that makes kick-ass branding, design & film. So much so that some of their clients have described them as “Disneyland for graphic designers.” They are a different kind of company they also describe themselves as a creative agency of misfit geniuses conquering the world through fine-looking design and real emotions. Often reminding their clients that they are their client’s future romance.

A few tips that they share with us that all hold steady to their stellar performance in their industry are:

  • Passion as a creative is very important.
  • Build a team around you that is equally passionate about what they do. It makes it easier for them to show up.
  • They remind us that when people have a creative passion they do not come to work at 10:00 A.M. They get up early and go after it. 
  • We should not be afraid to stand out in the world no matter what our craft is. And it is ok to be bold and colorful even as a  brand agency in a Minimalistic place like Stockholm 
  • Remember to have a balance of both work and fun in order to thrive.

In a  professional world built on conservative ideas and frameworks and structures, one look at their website and you will immediately notice that their work is very emotional. It's very provocative. It's very colorful and energetic. Which has made them stand out as an agency over the years which in fact gave them the creative consistency they needed to stand out in the industry.

In conclusion, they also give us some insight into, pitching the work and how to convince the client which campaign to go with. Both Erik and Fredrik agree that it's all about taking the client by the hand and leading them through the process. Like you lead someone to the dance floor. You can't just throw a new design in their face without an explanation. You need to take them on a journey on the thought behind the strategy, and how it connects with the brand. And then make sure that this makes a lot of sense to them as much as it does make sense to you as the pitcher.

You can find more information about this agency of misfit geniuses on their website https://snask.com

 

Instagram: snasksthlm

Frederik Öst’s Instagram: freddiemeup

Erik Kockum’s Instagram: fessus

 

Meet partners in crime - Fredrik Öst and Erik Kockum, Branding Experts with vulnerability and anti-machismo

First off, let me tell you a little about who Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum are…

"Freddie" was adopted from South Korea and raised in Northern Sweden after being found outside a police station. Erik is a confused and misunderstood misfit genius who believes that the feeling of freedom and allowance of making mistakes is the key to creativity.

Fedrick and Erik have co-founded a kick-ass creative agency, combining their expertise in branding, design & film. This of course after being told they needed 10 years of experience in the industry before starting their own agency. They ditched the norms and started up Snask with zero years of experience 14 years ago! 

Snask is a rare combination of real emotions and playfulness. Of fine lookin' design and kick-ass branding. And I guarantee through their stories, insights, and just being in their presence you will have an awakening to your inner creativity! 

Here are some highlights of our conversation:

  • How to's
  • What's the key to creativity?
  • How to build brands and connect with customers 
  • The process of creating any service- Films, branding etc
  • How to turn an idea into content 
  • How to go beyond the 'BS' in client meetings
  • How they create a brand strategy for brands
  • Snask 101
  • The meaning behind their mantra – Make Enemies & Gain Fans.
  • What does "Snask" mean? 
  • How Snask creates a culture of trust and creativity
  • Their new Beer Shower Beer - Snask
  • Life lessons 
  • What is machismo and how to break out of it 
  • Realizing that "being wrong" isn't that scary
  • How not to be afraid of what other people think.
  • Why lead with vulnerability and empathy?

Mark Stinson

Copyright 2022 Mark Stinson

Listen to Unlocking Your World of Creativity

Transcript
Mark (:

But welcome back friends to our podcast, unlocking your world of creativity. We're on episode 199. So we've reached a milestone of nearly 200 episodes, and a hundred thousand downloads. And it's because we go all around the world, talking to our creative practitioners about how they get inspired and how they organize ideas. And most of all, how they gain the confidence and the connections to launch their work out into the world. And we're traveling today to one of my favorite cities in the world, Stockholm, Sweden, and we're talking to Frederick and Erik of the Snask agency. We're gonna find out about their name. We're gonna find out about their work and learn about how they manage the creativity of their staff, themselves, and their clients Frederick and Erik, welcome to the show.

Erik (:

Thank you.

Frederik (:

Thank you so much.

Mark (:

Well, it's gonna be a lot of fun.

Erik (:

Yeah. it starts out with an issue like I know my agent promised me that this would be the 200th episode that we were doing, so I'm a little bit like, hell

Mark (:

What the heck.

Mark (:

I Love that

Erik (:

A pleasure to be here even though it's not the 200, but yeah.

Mark (:

Yeah. Well maybe we'll merge into, yeah, we'll just have an episode that just goes right into number 200. How about that?

Erik (:

sounds good.

Mark (:

Yeah. And then I'll have a talk with your agent after the show and clarify things.

Erik (:

We will as well.

Mark (:

I love It. Well, Erik, and Frederick your work on your website and what I've researched. It's very emotional. It's very provocative. It's very colorful and energetic and right off the bat, you say that Snask is your future romance. Now, I don't know if I'm looking for a new romance in life, but certainly, in creativity, we always have our eye on something new and different. Why, do you characterize it in such emotional terms?

Erik (:

I think we think that the so-called professional world is kind of built on conservative ideas and frameworks and structures. And we don't believe in business to business or business to consumer, we believe in human to human. So I think that in that, in that terms, in any kind of relationship, if it's an agency to a client or a brand to a consumer, we strongly believe it's still one human being, sending a message that would be received by another human being. And in that sense, we believe enrollments, even if it's between two humans or if it's between a brand and a human. Stuff like that. So that's kind of how we explain it.

Mark (:

Mm-Hmm and Erik, do people come to you for that style or are you having to sell it every day?

Erik (:

I would say that a lot of people come to us today, at least for that style. But then you have to live up to it meaning that in one way, we always have to, I don't know if I would call it to sell it, but to be ourselves more and working in an industry like this and as consultants or whatever that have to deliver a lot all the time. And, it's easy to sort of as you say, fall down into like patterns and just do things according to some plan and, forget about that emotional part may be, and the fun of doing things sometimes. So, I mean, we have to challenge it or challenge ourselves, but today at least I think a lot of people are attracted or know that we want to do it like this way and that. That's why they contact us too, for sure.

Mark (:

And most people see the execution part, they see the results of your other campaigns. Do they appreciate the, I guess the rigor of the process of the work that's gonna go into creating that kind of output.

Erik (:

I think people do but I think many at least like companies that contact us that maybe are, especially if it's like a little bit bigger companies, that's used to a way, like a typical process of doing things that they are a little bit nervous. Because they have expectations of it being a bit crazy and, or standing out, but maybe sometimes that's not even the case. We try to be very professional in what we do. It's more, you know, again, the output and, the attitude of not bullshitting too much and trying to like come up with something that, you know, stands out in a fun way. That's the goal, but getting there sometimes doesn't always become like a crazy circus of, whatever it is, you know?

Erik (:

So I know like even, some clients that I talked to later, they were like, even when they signed with us, they had like internal meetings, like, okay, so we choose Snask for this. So everyone is prepared, it could get crazy. They might be saying weird stuff. We need to get ready to like structure ourselves to meet this, to balance them, you know, but then afterward they were like, oh, you were the most professional client we ever worked with., For them or agency, it comes a little bit with the expectation.

Mark (:

Yeah. And Frederick, you know, again, the work might or the expectations as Erik was describing, you know, oh, it's gonna be a wild ride, but there's still gotta be a brief, there's still gotta be creative reviews. There's still gotta be market research. You know, how do you balance the, I guess the nuts and bolts of the process with the creativity of the work?

Erik (:

I mean, I think everything that we do Mark is steeped in brand strategy and our strong belief in what that is. And like one part of that is we strongly believe in making enemies and gaining fans. And what we mean by that is you are a brand today and you have opinions and you stand up for your opinions. You will for sure get enemies, but you'll also get the right kind of enemies, enemies that won't buy your brand or like you anyway. And you'll also get real fans, fans that are following you, that don't just scroll by your post. They like it. They comment, they tag their friends, they share the post, et cetera, basically call engagement something that other companies pay a lot of money for. But, for us, it's just, if you have opinions and you can stand up for them we can help you find that we find your values. We find what you can stand up for, and also what you can stand against making their brand clear. And that, yeah, I mean, sometimes this process is not crazy, it's not like we are opening champagne during the strategy meeting or the five-hour-long workshop with the board or the key stakeholders, then it's more serious, but we do push them. And we also,

Erik (:

I mean, we can, if they want to.

Mark (:

Yeah. Yeah. Champagne anytime.

Erik (:

Exactly. We also wanna be very honest and genuine in our approach. So we don't care if someone is CEO or, or chairman of the board or anyone. We just want people in this room to be humans and talk about the brand from that perspective.

Mark (:

And I guess from a business standpoint, it's easy to say it, you have a philosophy we can gain fans, but we might make enemies. Has that ever cost you from a business perspective?

Erik (:

Yeah. I mean, we've lost a client once because we talked ill about the Swedish king. And he'd done things that could have been a scandal basically. So it wasn't very strange of us to talk about it in that way, but then a conservative client pulled out because they had this advisor who didn't like that we talked this way about the Swedish king. He also mentioned that we said the F word many times during a talk and he demanded us to take this talk down from this channel called YouTube. So, and we think that it was kinda a good sign that we didn't listen to that person.

Mark (:

And Erik, what about from the brand's point of view? You know, it's again, easy to say we wanna disrupt the market, but sometimes that's a little messy. Has it ever cost the brand or do they always ultimately gain because they take a stand?

Erik (:

I would definitely say that they always ultimately gain from it, but in the short term, the first reaction and stuff, then definitely brands can feel the heat a little bit then, that's when they need to be confident and calm and, and remember their beliefs and stand up for it. And, don't panic, that's where we are human, to react to things. I think we can see it right now in the world is like with the war, but also like the invasion of Ukraine, etcetera, that's going on now. It's like the world is panicking around it. And there are a lot of things happening here in Europe with militarization. And we are all joining Nateo now and everything, the debate around that would never have sounded like it is sounding right now, like just a year ago or so on.

Erik (:

Or just before the war basically. So, I mean, it's scary sometimes when things happen and we start reacting to it too much. Like being too scared, basically. So I mean, it's a big jump from talking about war and talking about some commercial brand, but definitely, in that world of ours, that happens. But, we have never experienced what they have gained from it in long run. It's more that they come out stronger.

Frederik (:

Also the long run in the long term. It's like, if you have a direction if you have a goal with where you going in, a disruptive manner then you can take better decisions along the way, instead of, as you say, Erik in the war or wherever reacts to something.

Frederik (:

What happens instead of following your long, long path, for example, shoe brand. That was cool. If they started to sell crops, for example, yeah. They would gain financially for a short period of time, but their brand would become more and more, less cool. And in the end, Adidas and Nike wouldn't send their coolest sneakers, for them to sell in their shops. So ultimately in the long term, they reacted to a financial hit, but in the long term, they diluted their own brand, which became a much bigger cost in the end.

Erik (:

And I mean, not saying that this is easy. I remember when we were quite new I mean, is this like reble a little bit, trying to act in a different way, being more human on ourselves. And then we had a short period where our reaction to, having to fight around that every day was to suddenly dress in suits like really made like tailor-made suits. And we were like, oh, we need to have this to balance our craziness. So people see that visually they think that we are professional or whatever it was ridiculous. But we did that for a few months and maybe we needed to go through that. I don't know, but like it is easy to start to say doubting sometimes when you get some say resistance in things to do well.

Mark (:

Thinking internally with your staff, this brand that you've built must be attracting a lot of great talent, but on the other hand, do they know what to expect when they get in and start working with the team?

Erik (:

It's kinda funny because sometimes when people come in, especially interns, they come in at like 10 o'clock maybe they are hungover, sit down on a sofa, drink a glass of water, and laugh and everyone says, but what, are you doing? Because we start way earlier and they kinda think that the only thing we do is have fun and games and drink champagne but behind that whole part of the brand it's hard work and professionalism, a lot of professionalism. So think a lot of people get a bit shocked when they come to our office, seeing that everyone works all the time and pretty hard. But for us, that's the way to balance up the crisis side. Otherwise, we would only be clowns.

Erik (:

And yeah, we can be clowns privately, but professionally we balance that up with, a high level of professionalism.

Frederik (:

and I mean, there's no like, rule about that. You have to act in a certain way or something. It's just like when we work hard, we work hard, we want to make amazing things. And then sometimes you need really dig deeper. To do that, you need to work a lot, but then when we don't need to work a lot, when we have breaks or pause, or whatever it is that we did, we make sure we have fun and we make sure that, you can take it easy. So it's a lot of like, having an ambition, in the work and like pride in like your profession, et cetera. I think most people that have that they want to, know what it takes to deliver on something sometimes.

Mark (:

Well, you're reminding me that when people do have a creative passion they don't wanna come in a 10, they wanna get up and get after it. But you've also, embraced this idea that you're kind of a collection or group of misfits, you call them misfit geniuses.

Erik (:

Especially that.

Mark (:

Exactly they gotta be both misfits and geniuses. Is that what you're saying?

Erik (:

Yeah. I don't know what I'm saying, but, I mean, it's a funny way to sort of maybe express that it is more fun to dare to be yourself. If you have some funny, weird thing that is then express it and be that person and you can do that, even if you're working or hanging out with clients or whatever it is. And I think it can also add something to the work. So it's more like we're not robots. So I think that's sort of what we are saying with that.

Frederik (:

Yeah. And also we don't want anyone to come and try and fit in, not intern, not client, no one. I mean, we want everyone to just be able to be whoever they are down to their roots or their deepest personality traits, and just be able to be that with us. I think that for us, makes it makes everyone in the whole world a misfit genius in a way because we have norms of, how to look and how to behave. But no one actually fits into the norm we are all kind of misfit geniuses if you see it that way, no one basically fits into that norm standard of the world.

Mark (:

And I know from my own agency experience, on the outside, there's often this image of the single creative director is sort of the conductor bringing everything together, but really advertising to team sport. And if you don't have these varieties of talents and people, and I mean, we, we talked about diversity in a lot of different ways, but if you don't have a diverse team, the work will be also cookie cutter

Erik (:

For sure. Hundred percent. That's something that our industry, still needs a lot of work on. Diversity in many ways, that we are still lacking and something that we trying to work quite actively with now to like really like expand our team. As you say, it's needed to be able to do good work as well.

Mark (:

And thinking about your city, you're in Stockholm, there's a lot of cultural inputs, a lot of cultural influences. How does building a brand agency in Stockholm and then launching into global work? How have you found that?

Erik (:

Well, I think, first of all, we studied in the UK, and then we came back to Sweden and Sweden is kind of very minimalistic when it comes to design and branding and stuff like that. So they kind believed that minimalism came from Sweden. The same way the German thinks it came from Bowhouse and Italy thought it came from the futurist manifesto and the Swiss thought it came from Antarctica and the Dutch mean everyone can claim minimalism and so does Sweden but in that sense, we wanted to revolt against that. We didn't want to fit into that world. We wanted to be bold, and colorful. We wanted to do work that created and stirred up emotions for the viewer or person integrating with the brand. And in that sense, I think that in stock of the first five years, at least we were kind of, no one kind knew about us.

Frederik (:

Misfits.

Erik (:

Yeah. But online people knew about us. And online we liked it more where you weren't judged on your age, on your geography or your ethnicity or your sex or your anything. It was basically just like, oh, this is your work. This is how good you are. And you were only based on your work, which we liked a lot more.

Frederik (:

And also on top of that, Sweden and Stockholm are small. It's something, that you discover quite quickly when you start comparing and working with the world. It's a very tiny industry here. And especially in the design world, it's barely an industry. I would say, it goes together a lot with advertisements. And, that was also something that we noticed that we were always trying to be big online instead, we didn't even look to Sweden. And so we looked more broad and global, and then we also found a place where we were more appreciated maybe. Or that we could talk to people with a similar approach. We found people that understood us and wise versa more so we always had a lot more fun, communicating with the world around what we do than, maybe in Sweden.

Frederik (:

Exactly and also I think, that when it comes to trends, Stockholm is the city in the world that is more sensitive to trends. So to a lot of brands, launch new products and stuff in Stockholm, just to see if it works or not. We're very prone to jump on trends. And our industry there are a lot of, designers and creatives jumping on trends all the time. And I think we have always been against trends and we don't really like that way like just do something new because it's new, or we always wanted to find our own way of doing things.

Frederik (:

It is very funny with our own sort of style within visual style it's been similar throughout all these years. Even though we try to change it a little bit or update it, it's like in the same direction anyway. And, it's funny because yeah. Then here and there through these years, it's been like, when I have been meetings with other people, they can sometimes say that our style is trendy. Or sometimes they say that it's not trendy or, you know, we've been like, we've been going out

Mark (:

It's good that the trend comes up to you every now and then.

Erik (:

Sometimes it comes in high five. So often we are like, great, great. Now we can be trendy again for a while.

Mark (:

I like that. Well, Frederik and Erik, what a great conversation before we close, I wanna make sure people know how to connect with you and learn more about your work.

Erik (:

Yes. It's. Now when we say something,

Mark (:

Yeah. Be very promotional. This is,

Erik (:

Yeah. Fred is the PR manager of Snask...

Frederik (:

Exactly. Visit our website, follow us on Instagram, and especially follow Erik. His name is fastest. He means tired in nothing. He won't see a lot of content, but the little content you see will be very precious.

Mark (:

There you go. Because when he stimulates and wakes up, then it's really good stuff. Is that what you were saying?

Frederik (:

Yeah.

Mark (:

I love that. Well, you know, guys, one of the themes of our podcast, it's not just the actual coming up with the ideas, but it's actually getting the work out into the world and. Give us some insight into, I guess I'll say pitching the work and convincing the client. This is the campaign to go with. This is the design to launch. Give us some insight into your experience there.

Erik (:

I mean, for us, it's all about taking the client by the hand, leading them through the process. Like you lead someone to the dance floor. You can't just throw a new design in their face without the explanation without selling it and just saying, Hey, here's a new logo, and not saying anything, but you need to take them on a journey, how you were thinking. The heritage or the thought behind the strategy, how it connects with the brand, everything. And then when you've done show them it's like, okay, this makes a lot of sense. I understand it now. And I want this and this is amazing. Of course, sometimes you can go wrong, but if you don't do that, you don't tell the story of your work. The clients will make up their own and that's how everything works.

Frederik (:

Yeah. And sometimes you need to remind them of why they started working with you in the first place, that there was something there and they put their trust in you. And, they need to sort of keeping that trust and, I think also when they don't, it's often some fear, it's something that they're afraid of in their role and it can be good to find out what that is so you can, meet it basically and talk about it because sometimes they don't tell you, they just like, they just talk about the, ah, I'm not sure. I'm not sure. I'm not sure, but then you need to find out why actually, and that's when you can convince them that

Mark (:

Yeah. Why they came to you in the first place.

Frederik (:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that's, that's often the best one and you just like, Hey, you always had more fun saying yes and no in your life. Come on, let's do it. You know, and like, trust us, let's do this, you know?

Mark (:

So Let's see the results. Fantastic. Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing that. And listeners continue to come back to our website and our podcast for insights like this. Erik and Frederick have given us some real-world insights, some of their experience, some of their manifestos, and even how to disrupt and how to change the world through branding, advertising, and this kind of communication and client relations, I've really appreciated it. Thanks. Thanks for coming on the show, guys.

Frederik and Erik (:

Thank you, Mark. It's awesome. It's been a pleasure.

Mark (:

And go to their website Snask.com SNASK. Well, today we've stamped our creative passport and Stockholm Sweden. We're gonna continue our around-the-world journeys to talk to creative practitioners, about how they get inspired, how they organize their ideas, and most of all, how they gain the confidence and the connections to launch their work out into the world. So until next time, I'm Mark Stinson and we've been unlocking your world of creativity. We'll see you soon.

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About the Podcast

Unlocking Your World of Creativity
Catalyst of Inspiration, Stories, and Tools to Get Your Work Out Into the World
On UNLOCKING YOUR WORLD OF CREATIVITY, best-selling author and global brand innovator, Mark Stinson introduces you to some of the world’s leading creative talent from publishing, film, animation, music, restaurants, medical research, and more.

In every episode, you'll discover:
- How to tap into your most original thinking.
- Inspiration from the experts’ own experience.
- Specific tools, exercises, and formulas to organize your ideas.
- And most of all, you’ll learn how to make connections

 and create opportunities to publish, post, record, display, sell, market, and promote
 your creative work.

Listen for the latest insights for creative people who want to stop questioning themselves and overcome obstacles to launch their creative endeavors out into the world.

Connect with Mark at www.Mark-Stinson.com

About your host

Profile picture for Mark Stinson

Mark Stinson

Mark Stinson has earned the reputation as a “brand innovator” -- an experienced marketer, persuasive writer, dynamic presenter, and skilled facilitator. His work includes brand strategy and creative workshops. He has contributed to the launches of more than 150 brands, with a focus on health, science, and technology companies. Mark has worked with clients ranging from global corporations to entrepreneurial start-ups. He is a recipient of the Brand Leadership Award from the Asia Brand Congress and was included in the PharmaVoice 100 Most Inspiring People in the Life-Sciences Industry.