You may have heard of Said Baaghil before, most likely on a comment thread where he’s thrown a literary grenade into the public on a subject related to branding in the region. An unconventional brand expert in every sense of the word (do you know any other Arab from this region who wears a bow tie, funky-design glasses and multicolor sneakers?), Said has written extensively on branding and on brands, both globally and regionally.
I caught up with Said to ask him about his love for marketing, how the industry is changing and the advice he’d pass on to others about the industry.
Q: Said, why and how did you get into marketing?
I studied marketing in college but I realized my passion during my sophomore year. I was extremely active on campus, I was the founder of an international club to show diversity. My first passion was creative, something no one did I should do but I also realized that I needed marketing to understand the way forward. I was a below average student and kept a GPA between 2.0 to 2.2 through out my four years, I was less interested in what the professors had to say than I was interested on change and impact.
Q: How has the industry developed?
Well from the time I graduated till now, I would say tremendously. We focused on the marketing mix when my career kicked off but through the years the audience has evolved and marketing had to evolve with them. Today, we speak of brands that sum up the entire experience and not the marketing mix. While many markets evolved, our market [the Middle East] stayed stagnant. So marketing evolved globally, but everything remained as is here in the region.
Q: What’s the achievement you’re proudest of?
My son! As far as work, I have three. In my ten years in Saudi I was able to build two local brands and take them international in the consumer good and fashion retail space. I’m also proud of my brand as an Arab from my house in Khalddya who has taken on global marketing roles, both in the advisory and public speaking spaces.
Q: What would you advise your younger self to do and not do?
I’ll advise him not to follow the herd, but rather to find his purpose, follow his passion and chase his dream. Don’t fear your failures; they are just a test of time. So get up and evolve.
Q: How will the industry evolve? What trends should we watch out for?
We are in the fourth revolution, the digital revolution. Individualism in data is massive so personal brands will take off like never before. I think globalization is under threat as we see major nationalistic movements led by the U.K. And U.S.A.