• Transform magazine
  • March 03, 2024

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Decoding regional branding: Saudi secrets

Dennis Picturejpg

Dennis de Rond, founder of Skyne, an international strategic branding and design firm, offers insights into the critical role regional nuances play, particularly within the GCC, when creating brands. Skyne, with consistent recognition at the Transform Awards, has left an indelible mark on Saudi and world-renowned brands like Nike, Al Shifa Honey, Rainbow Milk, Emaar, and Jotun.

Through the years, Saudi Arabia has proven that a universal approach to branding its regional businesses would be a disservice to the industry. With a booming potential market that is reaching new heights, it is essential to look at what makes Saudi Arabia’s market distinct from its counterparts and why a ‘one size fits all’ doesn't truly work for the regional market.

Three inherent shifts in the Saudi market

Firstly, we need to understand the Saudi market in the context of its landmark growth over the past decade. Its exponential growth and the Vision 2030 strategy have shaped a distinctive landscape. With visionary leadership it has created some of the most unique market conditions. Up and coming businesses in Saudi are the new norm, and these don’t adhere to the same branding rules that have guided other markets for years. The Saudi identity itself is in transit, and thus there is a notion within people’s minds to “pave their own way” with a historical culture, the people of Saudi want to be the leaders of the new wave of change, instead of following international or regional counterparts.

Secondly, defining your market positioning has become critical. If you define who you want to be in the market, you end up leading the market, and people naturally like to follow visionaries. When you decide on who you want to be, you make it easier for the consumer to choose you. Local people are open to external perspectives that define these elements.

The Saudi consumer preferences are noteworthy. According to our research, an insight revealed that for the UAE audience, price plays an important role, whereas for the Saudi audience the aesthetic and the packaging of the brand is given a higher priority. This showcases a unique trajectory to how brands are being perceived. They are more open to people coming in and defining the market with something new and revolutionary, mirroring what their economy is currently doing. This combined with Saudi’s rich historical culture that curated a market environment that is ripe for new ideas, innovative outlooks and creative solutions. This type of marketplace won’t just let anyone in. They want businesses and partners to understand these foundational elements.

Thirdly, Saudi is seen as a hub of extraordinary mega projects, and rightfully so. As part of Saudi Arabia’s future vision, billion-dollar investments in transformative mega projects are set to redefine the standard of living in the Kingdom. However, what a lot of businesses fail to perceive are the immense opportunities beyond mega projects that are being spearheaded by visionaries of the region.

Skyne has had the immense pleasure of working with several leading pioneers of this region, entrepreneurs and business leaders alike. One of our strong strategic partnerships lies with His Highness Prince Waleed al Saud, who initiated milestone projects in the region like Mukatafa, that aims to unify the private and public sectors in the Kingdom. Mukatafa went on to receive Gold at the Transform Awards for its branding, including sub-brands like ZY, the fashion sector of the advocacy brand.

Skyne's Saudi presence is spearheading, driven by our belief that tailored solutions are crucial. We entered the Saudi market at an opportune time, bringing both international and regional expertise. With a strong presence in Riyadh and Jeddah, we can address branding challenges more effectively. Focussing on the unique details that make each region stand out.