From our conversations with other entrepreneurs and other agency owners in Bahrain we would have to conclude that Bahrain’s economy is on the rise, which is a good thing.Liam Farrell
Our good friends from Bahrain’s favourite English paper, the Daily Tribune (DT) popped in for a cup of char and a chin wag about all things creative, economic and Bahrain. Here is how it went down (DT in italics!)
(DT) Advertising and communication sector can understand the pulse of the economy, due to the very nature of the industry. From that vantage point, how do you view the Bahrain economy? What is the ground situation in terms of business confidence and consumer confidence?
(LF) Aside from understanding the pulse of the economy, you can tell the state of an economy very quickly by the media employment. Are there empty billboards on the street? In Bahrain yes, but not as many as Athens. The marketing industry is the first to suffer and the first to recover, from Unisono’s perspective, we have been really busy since october last year. Lots of new and existing clients booking in new projects. The team are busy currently on new digital projects, integrated advertising campaigns and lots of new strategic brand development work. It’s an exciting time at Unisono.
From our conversations with other entrepreneurs in Bahrain’s Entrepreneur’s Organisation (‘EO’) and other agency owners we would have to conclude that Bahrain’s economy is on the rise, which is a good thing. Consumer confidence is back and we are experiencing a really positive mood from clients in every sector. From EO’s own research in Bahrain, a lot of entrepreneurs are looking to hire new team members. Unisono has been making new hires and we have a lot of new hires we are looking to make from account management to creative. Bahrain is back in business.
Creativity or Strategy: if you have to choose one of the two for a client, what could be your response?
It’s a really interesting question which cuts to the heart of our approach. We say we won’t even do a leaflet if we don’t have a strategy. Strategy is the first stop on our creative journey – it informs everything we do. Sadly, so many clients try and cut out the strategic work, thinking they ‘know where they need to go’, but when you press them for their rationale they soon realise they have not thought deeply about it at all. We firmly believe it is the strategy which changes the game for our clients, it helps them get focussed on what they do best and inspires us on how to communicate this to the people who will want it.
So if i had to make this choice, I would say “Strategy”, as once you have shown a client a possible future and have clearly defined the steps they need to take to get there, they are naturally inclined to work with you on getting them there.
Which is the most attractive geography for branding and communications sector? How does Middle East compare to the rest of the world in this?
Clearly developed nations get branding and the power of it for making business successful. The Middle East lacks in this respect because the mentality here is predominantly to ‘buy in’ the franchise from overseas. The predominant thinking here, at least amongst large and influential business groups, is ‘operational’ rather than ‘innovative’ when it comes to brands. There is a belief that it is less risky and more profitable to buy an operational manual and a logo than to create them. This is a great short term model for growth but in the long term you risk loosing all your equity to the brand owner when the relationship suffers.
What was your vision when you started it? How far have you materialized that vision?
When we started Unisono we did it because we thought clients were getting logo work when what they really needed was strategic brand development – real value engineering at a business level. We wanted to create an agency that develops engines of growth for our client’s, authentically differentiated brands built by a strategic consultative process that starts with research and deep understanding of what their business capabilities are. No one in Bahrain was doing brand strategy or brand auditing let alone testing brand assets before roll out.
When we started In Bahrain in 2006, if you wanted to get serious about brand development, you had to go to London or to a lessor extent, to Dubai where the big networks has offices. Now Unisono has proven, by becoming probably the region’s most highly awarded brand consultancy and having worked on some of the largest brand developments in the region such as Batelco, GFH, Gulf Monetary Council and Viva, that companies can get credible consultancy and highly creative work at home and in support of the local economy and jobs for Bahrainis. We have a strong reputation for turning brands around and making them highly successful. Viva was a start up brand in Bahrain and after just over a year after we had positioned and launched the company here, the brand had become the biggest international brand in the STC group and had one of the strongest brand equity positions of all the major regional Telco’s. This was thanks in large part to the STC team investing in proper brand strategy before launch.
We think we are materialising the aspirations of the agency to bring international quality strategic brand development to the region and the major international awards show us our industry peers agree. As for the vision, our vision is To Positively Transform – this like all good visions is enduring and never ending. We aim for this every day.
Which is your favourite creative, in (the) ad industry? Who is your role model in the industry?
Build, MadeThought, NB Studio, Pentagram, Spin, Cartlidge Levene, Wieden & Kennedy, Droger 5 and North are great agencies for creative work. Imagination are a powerhouse of talent. For role model? I like the attitude of non-conformists such as David Carson and Ian Anderson- they make the industry exciting.
Strategy in communication, what are the pillars of the same?
Communication without purpose is just warm air. We start with WHY every time. Why are we doing what we are doing? When we have that clear in our minds we find the right communication follows every time. Right thought, right words, right result. Everything you say should be considered from your brand strategy. If companies are communicating without reviewing the work through the lens of their brand strategy then they are wasting their time and energy. All work should be considered as part of the whole brand narrative, it all has the potential to create or destroy the brand.