Dagfinn Høybråten

In the mid-1980s, Kyösti Varis (FI) was commissioned to design a logo for the Nordic Council. He proposed the swan – a proud, free and beautiful bird – as a symbol of Nordic co-operation. His idea was accepted, and the flying swan has been the symbol of both the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers since 1985.

A great deal of water has passed under the Nordic bridge in the three decades with the Swan as our symbol. The results of our endeavours have left their mark on many aspects of society, more and more people have become acquainted with the swan as a symbol, and other Nordic institutions and bodies have adapted versions of the swan as their symbol too.
Nordic co-operation constantly evolves and has been reformed during the decades since the original logo was adopted, but the swan as a symbol has lost none of its resonance. It still represents trust, integrity and freedom.

The proliferation of different versions helped crystallise thinking about the need for a clearer and more consistent visual profile for Nordic co-operation. Digitisation, and along with it the advent of small mobile screens on which older graphics don’t work very well, were other catalysts for the decision that has now come to fruition: official Nordic co-operation has updated its visual identity and the swan has new plumage.

The new Nordic swan, introduced to the world on 1 November, will be used by all bodies involved in official Nordic co-operation: the Council, Council of Ministers and other institutions and bodies. Designed by Bo Linnemann (DK), it pays due respect to the original model, but the aim was a simpler, clearer and modern version.

“Nordic co-operation constantly evolves and has been reformed during the decades since the original logo was adopted, but the swan as a symbol has lost none of its resonance. It still represents trust, integrity and freedom.”

Having said that, the new logo also conveys several other messages as well. The transparency and ease with which it combines with other images and colours reflect the Nordic virtues of openness and willingness to work together.

Updating symbols is, of course, also a way of marking the transformation taking place in our work at the moment. Making the swan the symbol of all of the Nordic bodies also makes it clearer which organisations are involved in the Nordic network. The new swan is the visual link that binds every part of official co-operation together.

Not only has the Swan changed its plumage, but it has also changed direction. The new swan flies on, toward new destinations, new knowledge and experiences. This minor adjustment reflects another feeling that characterises our co-operation – it may be based on traditional Nordic values, but it always looks to the future and never shies away from renewal.

Dagfinn Høybråten
Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers