By Lisa Knight, Creative Director & Founder of The Brand Foundation.
Multinational brands have been and continue to land in Iraq, attractive to Iraqi nationals perhaps due to the trade embargos of the past, and Saddam's dislike of Iraqi's owning western brands. It is hardly surprising that brands that were formerly unavailable domestically are now desirable. The ever-increasing number of global brands being marketed domestically via an equally increasing number of media channels is testament to the domestic appetite for global brands. In that respect, the days of old are truly over.
When you think about the influx of incoming international brands, on the surface at least Iraq doesn't differ greatly from most emerging nations, but on the homegrown front it appears to. What about Iraq's domestic brands? Where are they? Who are they? How do Iraqi brands fare in the pan-Arab world, and what about internationally? Is a pan-Arab or global presence important at this precise moment in time? Organisations seeking international affiliations may say yes, and others may think not.
You could argue that Iraq's situation is unique, and that Iraq is not an emerging economy but a re-emerging economy with a domestic re-building focus right now, a collective inward-looking strategy if you like. Perhaps local brands are seeking to position themselves domestically before brand Iraq as a nation brand is re-defined and opens the doorway for Iraqi brands to enter and compete on a global stage? Makes sense, I guess.
However, the time will come when Iraqi brands seek and will own a place on the global stage, and even if that thought remains in the back of your mind for now, better it be there than not at all.
Lisa Knight is Creative Director & Founder of The Brand Foundation, a UAE-based branding agency that specialises in the property sector in emerging markets. Prior to that, Lisa led the creative team of the UK’s governing political party, firstly under Rt. Hon Tony Blair and latterly, Rt. Hon Gordon Brown. Lisa’s career spans 16 years and numerous industries: arts & entertainment, business & finance, fashion, travel, youth, sport, and international development.