Ann Elin Hvidsten
Creative Director
Burson, Cohn & Wolfe Oslo


Ann Elin Hvidsten is Creative Director in Burson, Cohn & Wolfe Oslo. She has 20 years of experience helping private companies and public-sector clients to develop visual identities and compelling brand communication.

She has extensive experience in concept development, visual profile design and branding and has worked on designing and planning campaigns for some of Norway’s most notable educational and research institutions, municipalities, government agencies, businesses and organizations.

Ann Elin has won several national and international prizes for her work and has been a jury member in several renowned communications awards. She often holds keynotes and lectures about visual communication and idea development.

Her belief is that insight and having a clear purpose are the basis of all good communication, and that strong ideas, when executed well, can move hearts, opinions and minds.

-I read in an interview when you talked about recently hired designers in your agency “They are strong in their subjects, but at the same time curious about others. It’s a good feature to have”. Why do you think this curiosity for others is good?

Our agency, BCW, consists of people with strong competencies in areas that range from politics, media, film, storytelling and design. To create the best work, we must see and understand an issue from a range of different perspectives. I am a strong believer in creating diverse teams with experts with the ability to collaborate across disciplines. When we apply knowledge from outside our own area of expertise, we gain a broader perspective that gives diversity in our approach, and that’s how we produce innovative work.

Back to your question, this approach is not possible without a fundamental curiosity for other opinions and expertise.

-You have a lot of experience working for educational and research institutions, public enterprises and organizations. What is different from working with product brands?

The biggest difference is when working with institutions is the number of people and range of stakeholders that must be included. We work within areas that have a large impact on people’s lives. This requires a responsible approach, but also a deep understanding of the issues. When we position a university for example, it has to be attractive for potential students and at the same time maintain credibility amongst politicians and stakeholders. The challenge, of course, is how do we avoid making so many compromises that we can end up with mediocre results.     

-How do you think you can get the best out of a creative team? What methods or tips do you use to encourage people that work with you?

I have a brilliant team and to get the best out of them I aim to give them the space and platform to work to their potential. I believe creatives should be involved in working out the strategic direction of the project, this is often not the case, and I encourage people in my creative team to have the confidence to lean-in and voice their opinions. A part of that is of course also to acknowledge that our approach to a problem is not always the only one. 

-Where do you get your inspiration from?

 I get extremely happy when I see a piece of work that is brilliant, the kind of work you wish you had done yourself! The pleasure of seeing a genuinely original idea. If it also does good, like the Palau Legacy project, it doesn’t get more inspiring than that.

-What projects are you currently working on?

Currently I am working on a campaign to position and recruit students to Norway’s most recently established university. I also work on the visual identity for The Research Council of Norway.

– Have you already thought what you want your legacy to be?

No! But I hope my work will have a positive impact, and that I have given creatives the nudge or the space they need to bring their thoughts and ideas to the table.

-Do you have any favourite quotes, slogan or motto?

If I should choose a motto it would probably be «Creative Resistance». Using doubts, friction, contradictions and criticism actively as a tool for questioning accepted truths and creating better ideas, but doing it in a constructive and positive way.

Gerety Awards

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