Daniel Taylor: 'The kingdom is somewhat of a unique place to do business'
Posted on 2023 Dec,20  | By Ghada Azzi

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Daniel Taylor, Executive Director Client Servicing at Landor, the global brand transformation company-- part of WPP-- responsible for some of the world's most iconic brands, talks to ArabAd about the company’s manifold projects in Saudi Arabia and the specificities of this market, and how to stay culturally sensitive and respectful when working on Saudi branding projects.

What unique qualities does the Saudi market have? And how have these qualities shaped your approach to branding and creative solutions?  

The kingdom is somewhat of a unique place to do business, there is so much happening simultaneously, and at such a scale across so many industry sectors that to be part of this is really exciting but also very challenging. We have adapted to look at brand development as more of an agile approach than a traditional linear one. We also have had to adapt some of our brand performance tools and platforms; we’ve created or adapted tools that were designed for measuring the potential of existing brands, into future modelling for brand new brands.


The Saudi government is investing in various sectors, including tourism and entertainment. How does Landorassist in branding initiatives that support these sectors, contributing to the kingdom’s image as a destination for both business and leisure?

As Landor we have had extensive experience in tourism and entertainment; our experience tells us destination branding is one of the most complex areas of brand development to create differentiated appeal, relevance and credibility. In this space we are supporting on several projects that look across this industry holistically. It is about delivering the right balance between destinations, hospitality, airlines, and infrastructural arms of this equation to build that credibility for the kingdom, making it a potential future destination for all kinds of travelers.


What challenges have you encountered in Saudi Arabia when implementing your strategy? 

One of the biggest challenges in KSA for implementation is the constantly moving brand ecosystem, because there are so many projects being created in parallel. This does mean that what was relevant yesterday, may now need to be changed to be relevant for today and tomorrow. And I’m not speaking allegorically; it might be the case that literally yesterday something was okay, but today it has been superseded by a new project or unknown factor that went into the initial strategy.


“Creating clearly defined, clearly positioned, relevant brands are critical to the success of the Saudi Vision 2030.”


How does Landor stay culturally sensitive and respectful when working on branding projects in Saudi Arabia, given the unique cultural context of the kingdom?

Landor has been in the region for 20 years, our experience and history give us a good starting point to understand the cultural nuances of the Kingdom and the region. Most of our regional leadership has been based here for over 15 years, with a great deal of experience working and at times living in KSA. But we also know we don’t know as much as we’d like to. We learn every day and being an open minded and inclusive business is a big part of gaining a deeper understanding of culture in the kingdom. We employ Saudi nationals directly in our regional offices, as well as on the ground in KSA. We also work with cultural and strategic partners or consultants where necessary to gain insights we would otherwise not have. Much in the same way we would work with industry specialists if we needed a deeper understanding of a sector or business.


“One of the biggest challenges in KSA for implementation is the constantly moving brand ecosystem, because there are so many projects being created in parallel.”


In a rapidly evolving society, how does Landor assist brands in navigating the fine balance between preserving traditional values and embracing modernity in their brand messaging, thereby contributing to societal equity, particularly in terms of supporting brands that focus on job creation and economic empowerment? 

I think our recent work on Saudia Airlines is a great example of this, a proud national carrier with a rich legacy in the Kingdom, a key economic driver and at the same time a significant employer of scale with a role in contributing to the goals of vision 2030. Delivering a brand refresh here needed the delicacy of balancing new and fresh with a desire to not lose that heritage and equity of the airline during it’s last major growth period in the 80’s and 90’s. We’re ally proud that the positioning and delivery of the refresh of the core brand and alignment of all the contributing sub brands.


How does Landor see the role of the branding industry in contributing to Saudi Vision 2030?  

The branding industry is key to the delivery of Vision 2030, with so many new companies, developments and experiences being developed in and for the Kingdom. Creating clearly defined, clearly positioned, relevant brands are critical to the success of this vision.


Can you share any upcoming or ongoing projects in Saudi Arabia that align with the vision of a transformed kingdom and how these projects demonstrate the agency's commitment to Saudi brand development and identity alignment?

For confidentiality reasons we can’t talk about a lot of the work we are doing in KSA. We are in the business of creating brands and many of these projects are not yet finalized for launch. Recent examples of our work include NEOMs Oxagon, Trojena, Tonomus and ENOWA, Beach Games, Investment fund, with many more NEOM projects in the pipeline. We’ve been working with the NEOM Central Marketing Team on new brand creation since 2017 having created the NEOM brand as it was then and is now. SAUDIA airlines, AMAALA, elements of Red Sea Global, Saudi Space Commission, The Rig, MBC Shahid, not to mention our work on many projects with the Public Investment Fund and with MISK. All these elements are contributory to the overall development of Brand KSA.