Beirut Digital District and Endeavor Lebanon, in
collaboration with the Beirut Creative Cluster, hosted IGNITE’s first Creative
Chapter in Lebanon, bringing together creative experts from various
disciplines. The creative industry in Lebanon has been exponentially growing in
recent years, and the latest IGNITE event sought to strengthen bonds in the
entrepreneurial ecosystem and connect entrepreneurs to industry experts to fuel
The IGNITE event kicked off with one-on-one meetings between
entrepreneurs and experts in various realms, followed by a keynote address
tackling the shifts in the creative industry. International creative force Jochen Rädeker, Co-founder and Managing Partner of the design agency
Strichpunkt, headlined the talks, sharing his expertise in the creative world.
Strichpunkt, operating at the interface between design and technology, has
ranked amongst the top 10 creative companies for many years. His presentation
aimed at exposing Lebanese talent to international best practices. (Read tips from Rädeker on how design agencies can capture growth here).
A panel discussion then ensued, bringing together industry
experts who discussed various topics and transformations in the creative
industry. The panelists included: Ramsey Naja, Chief Creative Officer at J.
Walter Thompson Middle East & Africa; Joe Abou-Khaled, Regional Creative
Director at Impact BBDO MENA; Nathalie Fallaha, Founder and Design Principal at
vit-e branding + digital; Fadi Sabbagha, Founder & CEO at Born Interactive,
and Boudy Nasrala, Partner at Wondereight.
The experts highlighted that an evident change stems from
what clients are demanding. Changing client requirements were highlighted by the
expert panelists, with focus on growing expectations. They chimed in on how to
deliver on these expectations, and how brands are being redefined.
Naja: “Clients are always demanding an immediate return on
investment and very quick results, which gives very little time to know the
brand in depth. The focus is shifting very rapidly to user experience, as if it
is what defines the brand completely.” He advises that companies should focus
on both on building the brand and on user friendliness.
Fallaha: “Firstly, there is a huge difference between a
sustainable brand and sustainability of a brand. A sustainable brand is one
that has a long lasting and durable competitive advantage. The sustainability
of a brand leverages on green, human capital and social impact.” Fallaha
outlined the characteristics of a sustainable brand which include: being
timeless, having its own conscience and revolving around the 6 C’s: credible,
committed, consumer oriented, conversational, cooperative and consistent.
Another notable change is how brands are shifting to
storytelling, with one-way communication becoming a thing of the past. The
trend adopted by brands and their respective creative agencies has been to
enter an era of storytelling. How companies can best tell stories through
online and offline platforms was outlined by Abou-Khaled.
Abou-Khaled: “Brands should be honest, and honesty it is at
the heart of the brand experience and its offering. Storytelling can lead to
beautiful brand relationships and at the heart of shaping and building a brand
and engaging with consumers. Brands need to be human, engage positively and
emotionally with the audience in order to build consistent and beautiful
storytelling and take from one channel to the other.”
The era of personalization has also been welcomed, as masses
have become fragmented, and the customer now exists as a unique individual.
Companies are responding to this change by personalizing their brand journey
and approach. Industry experts shared how to adapt to this change:
Abou Khaled: “When a brand has a unique story, is honest,
consistent and humane, then the brand is not putting the employee and the
product at the center of its storytelling, but rather putting the consumer at
the heart of the story.”
Fallaha: “Focus on wearables and not FMCGs. Always make sure
you open up possibilities as opposed to framing the options it will allow a
much richer conversation and engage in a better way with the audience.”
As brands adopt a storytelling approach, and personalization
/ customization becoming a key offering, technology is pushing companies to
explore untapped creative areas. In every industry, technological disruptions
are bringing about changes at immense speeds. Creative agencies are now being
forced to understand and adapt to these changes.
Naja shares his personal philosophy, adding that: “You
should accept and be quick reaching to where the industry is now and to learn
and go back to school as quickly as possible to educate yourself with all the
updates happening in the industry to be able to adapt and stay in the lead.”
With the various challenges, opportunities and expectations
that exist today, being competitive has become a more difficult feat. The
founders and heads of two leading creative agencies in Lebanon discussed how
companies can find their edge and stay relevant.
Nasrala: “When scaling your business, think about scaling in
the skillset of your team and not only the size of your business. It is not
only about scaling the business in general but mainly about adapting to the
Sabbagha: “The key points to scaling and growing is to be
customer centric, independent, to adapt to the fast-changing transformations in
the industry and to find creative and complete solutions to all the clients.”