In this multicultural environment, the short answer is yes.

James Pass is an entrepreneur, international brand consultant and accomplished graphic designer, with 20 years of global branding experience. Since relocating to Dubai in the 1990s, he’s worked with many international branding agencies, including Fitch and Landor Associates, developing a reputation as a leading creative force in the business world. In late 2012, James noticed a shortage of branding services for entrepreneurs and start-ups in the MENA region. The market was saturated by large design agencies with a predominantly corporate focus, which lacked the commercial sensitivity required for a bourgeoning business. In a bid to fill this gap, and enable start-up companies to build brands from scratch, JPd was born.
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There is a common misconception that it might not be necessary for small businesses and startups to invest money in branding at the early stages, but only once they have accumulated a good cash flow and some extra money. However, reality is, there is no such thing as extra money, and your business might never accumulate it if it’s not utilising benefits of strong branding.

“Differentiate or die!” was the statement by marketing guru Jack Trout. According to him, businesses have only two ways to go.

The first one is differentiation, being different from your competitors, or competing on price. The second option can be more suitable for big corporates, where economy of scale allows them to offer great price options while remaining great profits.  

However, what do we see? Big corporate companies are still investing in branding, even though they could just crash competitors with low prices and great offers. For small businesses, the strategy of differentiation is of great importance, for they don’t have strong company resources in order to participate in price wars with competitors.

The absence of differentiation predicts financial difficulties or even company closure.

That is where branding plays an essential role. It helps businesses to differentiate and stand out. Let’s not forget, the brand is not just a logo, hence any branding program shall start with establishing brand positioning and your brand tone of voice.

It’s about translating your “why” and findings from your research into how your brand feels and sounds like.

When it comes to the Middle East, the region offers a lot of opportunities for businesses and young entrepreneurs, however it has its rules to follow. Anyone coming to the Middle East should respect the culture and religious beliefs this multinational market holds, and it’s important to do your homework to learn and research as much as you can about the region.

UAE, being a business hub for over 200 different nationalities, brings a lot of great opportunities for companies to flourish and grow, however, business owners should keep some points in mind that high market diversity may bring for the company:

  • To start with basics, make sure your company name doesn’t sound off or have rude meaning on key languages here such as English, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese etc. The more languages you can check, the better.
  • Make sure it does not carry any religious connotations.
  • Also, high diversity in the market will bring a very diverse customer base, with its own expectations. Make sure your brand is catered to all and is flexible to adapt accordingly.
  • Be prepared to have your marketing collaterals, brand logo, website and more to be bilingual, English and Arabic, to cater for key markets, which may bring extra investment in translation, digital development, and printing costs.  
  • Analyze your consumers and market trends, study their culture and ways they do business / buy products. The new generation of consumers, born after 1995, will dictate key trends in the market, so it’s good to keep it in mind as well.

Improving customer journey, strengthening digital presence and security, creating more authentic unique brand stories will be the key factors influencing strategic marketing decisions for the companies and supporting their business growth.