Aneta talks with Anaezi Modu for the Rebrand Expert Interviews series
Anaezi Modu: Who are you?
Aneta Bogdan: Brandient is a leading brand strategy and design company in the emerging markets region of Eastern Europe. We are a multidisciplinary team selected from the first post-communist generation of marketing, design and management specialists and a pioneering, entrepreneurial, visionary, stubborn enterprise — often having to force ourselves against the tide. Essentially, we’re passionate about design in its simplest and largest sense.
Anaezi: What do you do?
Aneta: We advocate, create, build and rebuild brands as signs of value — that is brands that bring value to shareholders and the community. Given the lack of specialization in the market, we have been a factotum, acting sometimes as a think tank, educating the market. In fact, we have published two books recently — Brandient 101 and Branding on the Eastern Front — on the matter, participated at conferences/seminars, and even staged an exhibition of identity design in Bucharest, while undertaking large rebranding projects, from positioning to brand engagement. Again, design is the main driver and added value in our work, if we understand it as solving a problem for our clients—be it the logo, the brand architecture, the creative platform or the packaging. Design is also what is seen, and it has brought us many international awards for our corporate and packaging identities, which are also published in many specialty books worldwide.
Anaezi: You have been recognized as a leading branding expert globally, and those that don’t know should be aware you were a past juror for REBRAND 100 as well as for other prestigious programs around the world.
Why does what you do for clients matter?
Aneta: In our emerging environment it is not very obvious that keeping one’s promise consistently over time brings a rewarding reputation. We are living proof of that, as it works for us, and it works for our clients. Many of our clients have been propelled by their new brands into the top ranking of millionaires, and many of our brands are now household names.
We changed the destiny of people that came to us with products and left with brands that established leadership positions in the market. You cannot see that very often in a mature market, and it is one of the perks you have working in an emerging environment. Financially, our work is paid a fraction of what a similar (or even less impacting) work is valued in the developed markets. This is a downside. But as we try to reach out to other markets (e.g. we will explore Singapore and Southeast Asia) this may turn to be an advantage.
Anaezi: Who do you do it for?
Aneta: Mostly for the medium to big entrepreneurial businesses, but for the past two years they are having a hard time, caused by the crisis that is aggravated by inept government policies. So, over this past period, the bulk of our work has switched to multinational brands that came to us for a better local brand platform and strategy.
Also we worked — not as often as we would like — for state-owned institutions like the Romanian National Television (TVR) and CEC Bank. We would die to work for the nation brand of Romania, but it seems that no brand consultant is a prophet in its own country. Last year we teamed up with the great Wally Olins for a bid on the Romanian tourism brand, but we were rejected by the government (as were the likes of Landor, Siegel+Gale etc), and the job was granted to a company in tourism management (sic!), so I guess we have to wait for a little longer.
Anaezi: What one thing have you learned in your business about yourself or Brandient?
Aneta: We have learned that one’s personal and business reputation is the most solid foundation one can hope for. The economic crisis made a dent in all our financial investments and in the value of our homes etc. But our reputation remains at an all-time high, and we continue to cash-in on it. The same holds for our clients and the brands we have created.
Anaezi: What one thing have you learned about clients?
Aneta: I have met many wonderful people over these years, Romanian entrepreneurs and managers, which keeps my hopes high about the future of Romania, even if the present is not so inviting. However, one funny thing I have learned about clients, which is a bit counter-intuitive, is that the more they pay for the job, the more they respect it and apply it with dedication. When you extend a discount, for whatever reason, they tend to treat your work as lower value and even to throw it away or apply it carelessly. We have learned our lesson. So, for example, when we decide to accept a pro-bono project, we first sign a contract specifying that organization has to pay the full price if they do not implement our identity as stipulated. It works like a charm!
Anaezi: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us, Aneta?
Aneta: I am very thankful for your well-thought questions, which allowed me to bring up relevant views on our business. If the young journalists and commentators in my market would take note, maybe next time I will also get from them more interesting questions than “how much did it cost?” Thank you very much, Anaezi.
Anaezi: Thank you, Aneta. I always enjoy our talks and respect the work of Brandient. No doubt, others will learn from this.
Aneta Bogdan, FCIM, Chartered Marketer
Managing Partner Brandient