Skilled Vision

Creative minds bring beauty and meaning to the world. Branding consultant, creative director and designer, Tina Prior, speaks with OHLALA about her career and gives some branding tips.

“Brands need to talk less about themselves and more about the things that matter to the people they want to reach.”

– Tina Prior

OHLALA – When did you discover that you wanted to work in a creative area?
Tina Prior –
As soon as I could draw. I spent most of my high school years in the art rooms.

OHLALA – Can you briefly discuss your career path, highlighting the main events?
Tina –
I’m Australian, and I studied Visual Communication at Sydney College of the Arts. While at university, I felt an affinity with British design, so I moved to London and worked there for almost 20 years. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some of Europe’s leading brands, such as Nespresso, Vodafone, O2 Mobile, Unilever, BMW, Porsche, the British Royal Family and The British Foreign Office. Highlights include being promoted to Creative Director at award-winning branding agency Lambie-Nairn, and later being appointed as one of the first female creative directors to the Board of FutureBrand London. My work has been published in the British Design & Art Directors Awards Annual on three occasions. My involvement with Zain brought me to Bahrain, where I have been a resident for eight years and working as a branding consultant, creative director and designer.

OHLALA – Branding is an essential aspect for big and small companies. What do you believe are the key elements that help create a strong identity?
Tina –
Today, we need to think of brands as 24/7 media channels that provide valuable information and entertainment to their target market. Gone are the days when brands were considered to be logos that appeared on tactical advertising campaigns. Customer loyalty and retention are at an all-time low because the power of choice is in the palm of the consumer.

OHLALA – What should a brand consider when hiring a consultant to help them build their businesses?
Tina –
The most important factors to consider when hiring a consultant or agency are the following:

  1. Who will actually be doing your work? The strategy, the creative concept, the design. Often at the larger agencies, initial meetings are carried out by agency management or directors but, in reality, the accounts managers or junior designers end up doing the work.
  2. The most effective brand communications are a combination of science and art, so every creative idea needs to be underpinned by a clear strategy for reaching your target market.
  3. Big ideas don’t require big budgets or big teams. The days of high-end film production and luxurious budgets are over. Responsiveness and relevance win engagement.

OHLALA – What are the things that you think should be avoided?
Tina –
Brands need to talk less about themselves and more about the things that matter to the people they want to reach.

OHLALA – What are your plans for the future of your company, Unthink?
Tina –
Having spent most of my career in large network agencies, I prefer to work as a consultant, so I can give clients my undivided attention. I have a flexible way of working and business model, where I am the key person in each project or account, but bring in other professionals from Bahrain, Dubai, London, Australia. These are experienced colleagues, with particular expertise. Collaboration is key, both with clients and other industry professionals.

OHLALA – Bahrain is a place where many different cultures meet. Do you think this characteristic makes it a favourable or trickier environment for companies to thrive?
Tina –
Bahrain is evolving into a cultural melting pot, which has been the natural progression for all major cities in the world. The fusion of East and West is culturally enriching and offers more business opportunities.

OHLALA – What are the things you like the most about Bahrain?
Tina –
Arabic design and culture are fascinating to me – from Arabic calligraphy to textiles, fashion, ceramics and jewellery. I see the dichotomy between a small population and a group of highly educated, well-travelled people who do business all over the world. Extraordinary! My perfect day in Bahrain would consist of breakfast at The Green Bar Cafe at Bahrain Fort, followed by the Annual Bahrain Fine Arts Exhibition or a wander through Bahrain Museum.

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