Out of the blue

How Nordsjö paint transformed Sortland in Norway

When a small town north of the Arctic Circle in Norway decided to improve its image, they called on AkzoNobel’s color expertise to help develop a new blueprint for the future.

A blueprint for the future

Our story begins at the start of the new millennium, when a plan was hatched in response to damning travel guide claims that the small town of Sortland in Norway offered little more than a chance to fill your car up with petrol.

Not exactly an image befitting what is the commercial and administrative center of the Vesterålen region in the far north of the country.

So a radical project was kick started which involved turning Sortland town center blue by painting as many buildings as possible. Working closely with experts from AkzoNobel’s Nordsjö brand, a special color palette was devised and, sure enough, the last few years have seen the transformation gradually gather momentum.

Character and identity

Now widely known as the Blue City, Sortland has been relatively successful in changing its dour image, with a large percentage of the central area having been repainted.

It now has a more modern character and identity, one which is still rooted in the area’s maritime and fishing heritage – an important consideration for the locals. And there are bigger plans in store.


Ambitious vision

“My vision is to promote the Blue City worldwide,” explained the leader of the council. “We want to put Sortland firmly on the tourist map and attract visitors from much further afield than Norway and Europe. There’s a lot of potential here and I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface.”

It’s an ambitious vision which clearly underlines the transformative power of color.