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Interview

NOBRAND, No Problem An Interview with Founder Badeeh Abla

Why nobranding is the new branding.

As the international luxury and fashion market steadily becomes more and more saturated, individual brands experience more difficulty with standing out. The struggle of making a good impression is something that we all deal with on even the most personal level, and reinventing our individual image can often seem like a daunting task. Where do we even begin?

That’s where NOBRAND comes in. With a completely neutral and sophisticated philosophy, NOBRAND helps brands all over the globe– especially the Gulf and the Middle East– find their true selves while reaching new heights and achieving even bigger goals. Even better, NOBRAND has already worked with high-profile brands like Elie Saab, Ginza Fashion and Bugatti, earning a behind-the-scenes look at the key secrets to success in the glamorous spheres of fashion and luxury. We had the chance to sit down with NOBRAND’s creative founder, Badeeh Abla, to find out his tried-and-true steps to a marketing makeover, as well as the trailblazing fashion brands to be on the lookout for these days!

At just 23 years-old, you founded NOBRAND and have been expanding your outreach ever since. What was the motivation behind starting your agency, and what does the luxury brand industry— especially in the Middle East & Gulf— mean to you?

When I started at the age of 23, my motivation was and still is to reflect the best in our clients’ brands.

The luxury industry means a lot of things to me! As a start, I always applied a simplistic, accessible luxury approach to design and communication. Today, I like to call it simple sophistication”– as contradictory as this may sound to others. I think simple sophistication is a well-balanced branding strategy and will be the future of the luxury industry.

The luxury industry in the Middle East & Gulf is growing (in the sense of consumer behavior), though it is still in its early stages. Due to the gigantic appetite of this region– and everything being titled as luxury– luxury businesses in the region have flourished in the past decades in different ways.

The market is becoming more saturated, so it is no longer enough to just simply provide luxury. Today, clients who can afford luxury products and services are a newly educated generation of international market participants and social media users. With luxury becoming more and more universal, a successful luxury brand now has to do periodic market research in order to develop new strategies, reinvent itself and spearhead the market. In addition, they need to employ an agency with the right vision, strategy and visual experience with a true understanding of this part of the world.

With thousands of clients and hundreds of active projects, NOBRAND is constantly working to help luxury businesses and companies discover who they are— but who is NOBRAND?

NOBRAND Agency is a team of dedicated individuals who share the same philosophy, strategy and market vision. We take great care of our clients, guard their brands with the right positioning and translate their work into a growing success.

Why did you decide to call your agency NOBRAND” and what does this label mean to you?

I remember when I came up with the name “NOBRAND” 13 years ago, everyone around me flipped out. It was untraditional and very daring for this part of the world, but I saw it from day one– this is what I wanted in a design and branding strategy. Nobranding is the neutral, unconventional approach to a brand without prejudice (i.e. without the design agency adding its own personal mark or flavor to influence the success or age of the brand). As a result, our portfolio is as an intricate marriage of very simple designs, very rich illustrations, powdery tones, and masculine straight lines. The common denominators between all of this are international refinement and elegance, which are factors that we gained while working on big accounts like Elie Saab, Ginza Fashion and Bugatti.

This month, BWB is diving into the world of fashion and style, and NOBRAND has worked with top brands like Elie Saab and Ginza Fashion Dubai. How do you help fashion brand clients achieve a fresh and interesting look in 2019?

We help brands understand current visual trends and their personal strengths. We become their brand consultants after we apply the right research metrics and study their brand thoroughly. After this period of research, we return with suggestions and a plan of action for a positive change and a fresh, interesting look.

The most important factor is to sync both the client’s marketing department and our creative team so that we are all on the same page. Together, we create Team-Brand, ultimately creating the necessary change(s) for the client’s brand empowerment.

What are the fashion brands and trends that are booming in the NOBRAND sphere at the moment, and what should BWB be on the lookout for?

A few of the brands we’ve worked on that are currently booming include Yeprem Jewellery and Nicolas Jebran Fashion. Rosen Beirut, though not in fashion, has established the haute couture of wedding decorations for Beirut and the Gulf’s most expensive weddings (with budgets that could exceed 3 million USD!). I would personally suggest to keep a close eye on  our Instagram (@nobrandagency), as we mention upcoming brands with visions of going regional and international.

What would you say is NOBRAND’s proudest achievement, whether big or small?

There have been numerous achievements, but I personally like my recreation of the Helvetica Light font to LX Sans font – a simplistic, elegant luxury font. My team reworked the font and added numerous small details to make this one more unique with new curves and micro-elegant enhancements. This work again translates our approach to design: “Simple sophistication.” You can discover the font on www.lxsans.com and purchase it from www.creativemarket.com.

How do you apply your expertise of branding to presenting yourself to others? What are your top secrets and tips to making a good impression?

Reflecting our work and philosophy comes first and foremost when presenting. However, with a market that is full of brands, we are very much interested in companies that share our vision of a “chameleon market” that always requires a Nobranding approach.

I am personally a big believer in the law of attraction, so that’s one big secret revealed! Another tip is to just be yourself, and if you are a beautiful peacock, clients will come take a closer look at your artwork.

Who has been your biggest inspiration in crafting your agency?

Numerous people and philosophies, but mostly personal experiences. I do really like Massimo Vignelli’s approach in using the same fonts throughout his entire career to create the best, most timeless logos. Personally, I like decisiveness and change simultaneously; however, both should be ruled with ration and not become an indecision loop!

Each project has a new curve of learning. Some of my biggest inspirations are my clients! Whether in their decisiveness or indecisiveness, their projects offer me and my agency an abundance of inspiration and valuable experiences. They help us craft a great design system that helps them and us to work towards a bigger picture and achieve both of our goals.

When not working with a NOBRAND client, where can we find you?

I escape to my own personal projects. I could sketch an interior of a new vacation house, a new wall installation, or anything that I would love to change in my surroundings. I am like that little blue bird you may have seen in a BBC documentary! I fly and jump around, digging up little treasures from here and there, and bring them back home to cherish them on my personal canvas that I call, “The Blue House.”

Teresa Deely

Teresa Deely is a junior at Columbia University majoring in English and Creative Writing. As President of the Columbia University Glee Club, she loves to sing, make music, and celebrate multiple modes of artistic expression. She believes that one’s skin is yet another canvas and vehicle for art, and has loved styling her hair and applying makeup from a young age. While she has spent most of her time in educating youth and leading enrichment programs for children, she is highly motivated in discovering new ways to care for herself and sharing them with others.

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