Brand. Rebrand. Repeat. – The Importance of Reinventing a Business.

As Brand Lounge turns a decade old, founder and creative force Hasan Fadlallah discusses his company’s journey and why branding is more important today than ever.

 

When examining his own business trajectory, Hasan Fadlallah sees numerous milestones. The dearest to his heart however, is the 2008 crisis. It was the time when he decided to do more as a person and an entrepreneur. 

 

“Before we were busy and there was enough for everyone. With the crisis, lots of existing work was stopped or cancelled. Money was long overdue. But worst of all, it was the realization that we built our credentials and profile on a sector that will take a long time for getting back in shape.”

 

This was the point in his life where he expanded his company from serving only real estate clients to the diverse portfolio he boasts today. “We did what we do to brands: Rebranding. We recouped our losses by 2010 and there’s been no looking back,” he said sitting in his sleek and spacious new office in Dubai Design District.

 

Present-day successes of his company include Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, RAK Free Trade Zone, Novartis, and an oil and gas business in Nigeria.

 

It also underscored what is now Hasan’s professional motto: the concept of reinvention.

 

When the slogan of your enterprise is ‘The Point of Differentiation’, it becomes vital for you to set yourself apart, sometimes on a regular basis. Branding is the process of creating your own image, displaying the visuals and marketing tactics that help you register in people’s mind. Simply put, it’s how you will be known. Hasan knows a thing or two about this business of identity. When he founded Brand Lounge in 2006, he used his past experience in advertising and communications as a response to what was already out there.

 

“Companies like Emaar were shaping the future,” he said in relation to the real estate boom of the early-mid 2000’s. He noticed that while publicity campaigns were in full swing, “A good strategy was lacking”. Thus he founded Brand Lounge and formed a partnership with one of his heroes, the legendary Jack Trout.

 

Eventually, the company settled into seasons of growth spurts. From being strictly brand strategists, the Brand Lounge team parlayed into adding a design component as well. “Science and art. Merging of image and experience,” as Hasan put it.

 

Despite the company’s success, Hasan felt the lack of a proper information element. “We see a lot of customer research, a lot of consumer research, but not brand research,” he said.  So he collaborated with Robert Passikoff’s Brand Keys to launch a research component as for Brand Lounge as well. Doing their homework on what different companies want as well as what suits them helped the team’s decision-making process for their clients.

 

The trifecta of strategy, research, and design, all in one place, was now complete. Brand Lounge, fueled by sheer passion for helping other companies grow, found itself also growing along the way.

The road to maturation was paved with valuable lessons, prime among them was the ability to distinguish between sizzle and steak. “A lot of strategies out there don’t rank to be called strategy. They are rationale of design work. As phenomenal as the outside could be, on the inside it is hollow”

 

Just as relevant was the knowledge and understanding of local culture, which Hasan stresses is crucial to pulling off effective brand campaigning. “We’re a brand consultancy, we offer design built on solid strategies, we don’t do design for the sake of design.”

 

The growth process continued with a fourth component, that of delivery. In partnership with Sweden’s Q Bank, they are soon launching their own platform for digitizing guidelines.

 

As years go by, companies discover that their current guidelines aren’t working for them anymore. That will be solved with the digital guidelines. “It’s based on a methodology that works, not according to us but according to clients,” Hasan reassured.

 

He maintains though, that while the occasional “facelift” is necessary every few years, it’s important not to lose the “essence” of a brand, which is what made it special in the first place. “When you have a winning model, you can apply it to any brand.”

 

Deployment, the fifth stage of Brand Lounge, is currently under way. By Hasan’s own admission, this move has made his company finally feel “complete”. But knowing his penchant for recreating and expanding, it’s probably just a matter of time before we see the yet another stage that catapults him and his business to further heights.

 

About Hasan Fadlallah:

Hasan hails from Lebanon, but has been in the Gulf since Sheikh Zayed road was a camel track …almost. He made his name in the communication world by working with International agencies like D’arcy and Publicis and set up Brand Lounge in 2006 to introduce the international concept of brand development to the Gulf.

 

 

 

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