What the UAE can teach you about branding

Businesses can learn a lot from the country's global brands and successful tourism industry

Dubai, for example, is renowned for having the tallest tower in the world. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Dubai, for example, is renowned for having the tallest tower in the world. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Since the unification of the seven Emirates, the UAE has grown to become a global tourist destination and a success story that inspires many.

The country has seen the growth of global brands such as Etihad and Emirates and become a business, entertainment, and creative hub. Whether it’s a weekend getaway, a spa retreat, a shopping trip or setting up a business, the Emirates is now the place to be. It does not limit itself to a certain sector but has diversified its economy in a way that ensures there is always something on offer for the different kinds of traveller or investor. A recent study by the World Travel and Tourism Council found that travel and tourism contributed 11.1 per cent to the UAE’s economy last year with one in every Dh9 generated by that sector.

Even if you are not in the travel or tourism industry, three key branding lessons can be learnt from the UAE’s success story:

Stand out from the competition

To really stand out, you must do things differently and uniquely. Think about your brand. What does it offer? How could it beat the competition? The UAE is constantly developing itself across all fields, aiming to be a leader in a number of sectors. One of the objectives of the country's Centennial 2071 for instance, is for the UAE’s government to become the best in the world.

Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years? You may think these goals are far in the future, but they will help you set the right mindset as you work towards that ambition. Constantly inspired by my country, I have one-year and five-year goals. With that focus in my mind, I have a clear vision of where I’m heading. Think of your goals as your road map, guiding you on your journey. After all, you wouldn't drive aimlessly in different directions to reach your destination, would you?

Listen to others

The UAE leaders are close to their people, always tuning in to their needs and wants. The government works to provide its citizens, residents and visitors with everything that would make life easier and more comfortable from luxurious airlines to the mobile government initiative that makes official services available around the clock and from the touch of the phone.

Always stay close to your customers as well as two steps ahead of them. Don’t wait for them to complain about a service to start upping your game. This is where research, surveys, focus groups and physically being close to your audience are essential to the development and growth of your business.

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What would they want? How could you improve their lives? How could your business improve itself? Going above and beyond should be the bare minimum you offer your clientele.

Offer great experiences

The UAE is a place many visitors keep coming back to. Some have even invested in properties and made it their second home. Why? Safety aside, there’s always something new and exciting to see and do. I travel for two weeks, only to come back and find a new venture to explore. There’s something for business tycoons looking for a quiet break; there’s something for art buffs; there’s something for children and there’s something for those who simply want to immerse themselves in the tranquility of the desert. In Dubai, there is the tallest building in the world and the largest mall outside America.

Experiences are key. A great experience draws people back. If you want your customers to return again and again, always gauge their interest and keep them curious, excited and hungry for more. With so much competition around, you could easily lose your space.

In business, just as the UAE puts its people and their needs first, make your clients your first priority. Going the extra mile and thinking ahead are key to reaching and maintaining your spot in the limelight.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi

Published: September 1, 2019 08:30 AM


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