We’ve just launched our new, refreshed website for you to explore our portfolio of branding work better. The Brand Foundation is a boutique, strategic branding agency that specialises in branding real estate and physical spaces. As an agency we are down-to-earth, passionate and totally committed to achieving results for our like-minded, select Clients.



Reef Residence, luxury real estate brand by The Brand Foundation, Dubai.

Reef Residence, luxury real estate brand by The Brand Foundation, Dubai.


In celebration of Dubai’s World Expo 2020 success, leading UAE-based branding agency, The Brand Foundation (TBF) has today launched its Start Big Initiative, designed to support entrepreneurs with limited capital brand their businesses in a world-class manner from the start.

Professional branding services are typically within reach of start-ups with substantial financial backing, leaving self-funded entrepreneurs and those with limited capital with a dilemma… invest in my brand now or later?

“Having a strategically positioned, professional brand is often the difference between failure or success. Start-ups face stiff competition from more established competitors, and your brand presents a key opportunity to communicate your differences, maximizing your competitiveness and shaping perceptions about who you are and what you do right from the start, “ said Lisa Knight, Founder of The Brand Foundation.

Lisa believes that getting it right from the start is vital – so in order to make the decision easier for entrepreneurs TBF has devised an SME branding package that provides businesses with a branded toolkit of essential assets (such as a brand identity, website, corporate stationery) in order to excel.

Start Big was officially launched on 27 November 2013 to coincide with the news that Dubai has won the rights to host the World Expo 2020.

The Brand Foundation FZE

27 November 2013, United Arab Emirates

Telephone: +971(0)4 3116 650


The real estate industry’s specialist branding agency, The Brand Foundation (TBF) is delighted to have completed Phase One scope of works for Mangrove One, an upscale residential development in Abu Dhabi. From the elegant box-bound brochure, the ambient external signage and the dedicated tenants life & style magazine – there is nothing ordinary about this real estate development.

luxury-property-brochure-branded-propertyThe unique luxury villas development is one of the first to deploy TBF’s holistic approach to property branding; adding value to developer and tenants, alike as the brand proposition is shaped around the day-to-day services as much as what the physical spaces provide.

Lisa Knight, TBF’s Founder said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with the owners, who shared our belief that real estate’s true value is realized in the long-term by engaging with and serving tenants excellently. By providing above and beyond what is expected from property management services and placing that at the centre of the brand equation, the likelihood of higher tenant retention rates increases, simultaneously creating demand. Higher retention rates and demand positively impacts the bottom line, and when push comes to shove our role is about precisely that. ”


The Brand Foundation is an independent, British-owned, Dubai-based branding agency that specializes in the real estate industry.

In other recent news, TBF has completed the branding of Conrad Dubai hotel’s commercial spaces, and welcomed Steven Richards, the senior creative behind some of the UAE’s most prolific real estate brands as Creative Director.


Arriving on to the residential leasing market this week is Mangrove One – a contemporary collection of spacious urban villas. Unlike any other residential community in the UAE, Mangrove One is an inspired contemporary community with passion and exemplary service at its heart. The unique design, coupled with world class Residents Liaison services is what sets the development apart.

The 101 luxurious villPicture 092_smallas come in eight configurations – designed for families with a sense of individuality and an appreciation for the finer things in life.

The creation of multiple award-winning designer, Graham Jones – the villas follow the modernist less is more ethos. Described by the designer as Functional Minimalism, the clean lines, flowing open spaces, abundance of natural light, soaring ceiling heights, landscaped gardens, Technogym, inspired health club, pool, and with Italian fittings by the likes of Designo and Le Torre – the development is destined to be the upscale community of choice for Abu Dhabi-based expatriates.

More than a cutting edge collection of villas, Mangrove One provides an engaging community ambience that will take community living to the next level.

The development is conveniently located in the Eastern Mangroves, Abu Dhabi – accessible from the Eastern Ring Road/Salam Street.

The Brand Foundation is delighted to have provided a range of strategic brand consultancy services; ranging from brand naming, brand identity and marketing collateral design, through to the conceptualisation and production of the Mangrove One Life & Style tenants magazine.

Contact AIME for leasing enquiries:

Telephone: 02 4499111

Mobile: 056 2785301

For interview requests/images and further information contact real estate branding consultancy, The Brand Foundation.


Telephone: +971 4 3116 650

Mobile: +971 56 6185812

Recently I was thinking about the various ways and through what mediums nations tell stories about who they are, where they come from and what they have to offer. Postage stamps came to mind. Whether you love them, don’t particularly notice them or collect them postage stamps tell time-framed stories and capture national sentiments. They’ve been around (in paper format) since the 1840’s – baring images of Monarchs, Presidents, heritage sites and key political figures.

Over the years’ stamps have been widely studied for their historical significance. I asked myself what stories Iraq’s choice of stamp designs revealed about the nation, past and present? After coming to power, was Saddam’s dictatorial style reflected on the nations’ postage stamps? Did they portray his face? If so, was he in military uniform? Did they depict ancient scenes, agriculture, and oil?

The earliest Iraqi postal system is said to have originated in northen Iraq, or Assyria, as it was then known in approximately 600BC. Letters were written in cuneiform (pictograms) on clay tablets and enclosed in clay envelopes.

Iraqi Cuneiform alphabet - The Brand Foundation Blog

The Ottoman Empire saw post offices open in Baghdad, Basra, Mogul and Kirkuk, and in 1868 India operated two post offices in Baghdad and Basra from 1864 – 1914. Interestingly, these stamps carried Indian imagery, which were later overprinted by the British military during World War I, as British soldiers fought in Basra and Mosul. Already, it’s curious to see that India and the UK had literally stamped their mark on Iraq’s postal system during that time.

The British mandate granted by the League of Nations in 1920 saw the first official Iraqi postal system, which led to the introduction of the very first Iraqi national stamps – not, at this point depicting a monarch or political head, but they contained scenes of ancient and present day Iraq, connoting a sense of pride in the countries’ rich sites of historical importance. Faisal I of Iraq appeared on stamps in 1927 and again in 1931. This was the first time that Iraqi stamps were definitively Iraqi, without the presence (albeit temporary over-printing) of another country, and interestingly, this was pre-Iraqi independence.

Independence in 1932 saw a new currency, and a re-printing of the original (1920’s) set of stamps, including Faisal’s. To coincide with the accession of King Ghazi, new stamps appeared yet again in 1934, followed by another set in 1941 after the unexpected death of King Ghazi. The 1941 designs reverted back to depictions of scenery because Faisal II was an infant at the time. However, 1942 marked the young boy, Faisal II’s first appearance on the stamps, followed by updated versions of him as a teenager in 1948.

As many other nations did in 1949, Iraq printed its first commemorative set of stamps to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union. This was 17 years after Iraq’s independence. Concurrent with the coronation of Faisal II three more designs were commissioned, some of which were only partly available prior to the 1958 revolution, which saw these designs overprinted by General Qassim’s regime, perhaps an indication that he was seeking to assert his authority instantly. General Qassim was behind Iraq’s very first commemorative set of stamps that featured him as benevolent leader.

Saddam Hussein was Vice President when he was first depicted in 1976 and by the mid 1980’s it is claimed he appeared on the majority of stamps produced. February 2003 saw the release of the last stamp he was featured on. Two other designs were scheduled but the printed versions were reportedly destroyed by looters, however the proofs survived and one, on the theme of transport was later approved for release by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Since then, overprints have been in use, but don’t appear to have been officially authorized.

An interesting set I came across, although I have no idea if they were official or not, is a series of “No” stamps. The eight designs are said to reflect the views of the majority of the population, commissioned under Iraq’s PM of the time, Al-Maliki. Printed on them are these words: No to Terrorism, No to Occupation, No to Dividing Iraq, No to Killing the Innocent, No to Sectarianism, No to Militias, No to Baathism, No God but Allah.

No Stamps, Iraq

Image courtesy of http://Iraq-stamps.com

Although Saddam Hussein has been the most-featured man on Iraq’s stamps, the “No” set struck me as the most politically charged. Yes, Saddam’s face had appeared on a lot of stamps but from what I could find there seemed to be a distinct absence of powerful political messages that, I for one, found entirely unexpected.




The Brand Foundation is a Dubai-based branding agency that provides holistic, creative and strategic branding solutions that create long-term value. TBF’s speciality focus is real estate branding, emerging markets.


The real estate industry’s specialist branding agency, The Brand Foundation (TBF) has released the findings of its research into people’s attitudes and feelings about where they work. The research reveals some surprising dissatisfaction when it comes to the office environment.

Almost half of all respondents stated that they were not satisfied with their workplace, stating a range of issues as reasons for their unrest. Insufficient parking, dated interiors and a lack of quality amenities nearby were common gripes.

Lisa Knight, TBF’s Founder said: “Despite the fact that much of the office space in the UAE is relatively new, it’s surprising to see that so many people are unhappy with their workplace. Our survey shows that there is more to creating an attractive workplace than just a smart office. People spend a lot of their time in their office, often more so than in their own homes, so a more holistic approach when it comes to planning parking, shops, cafes and meeting places would go a long way to boosting the happiness of the workforce.”

Equally revealing is the fact that people rate location and environment more highly than pay and holidays when it comes to choosing their place of work.

“As we head into a new year, employers would be wise to realise that they don’t necessarily have to pay the highest salaries or give generous holiday allowances.  Just providing a pleasant place to work with nearby amenities is a major plus when it comes to attracting and retaining quality employees,’ Lisa added.

The workplace satisfaction survey was carried out by The Brand Foundation during November and December 2011.  Full copies of the results are available on request.

The Brand Foundation is a Dubai-based branding agency that provides holistic, creative and strategic branding solutions that create long-term value. TBF’s speciality focus is real estate branding, emerging markets.


If you live and work in the UAE, The Brand Foundation would love to hear your opinions on your workplace.

Are you happy with where your office is located? Do you care if there’s a gym on site? How about a creche? Enough eateries near your office? Are you expecting rents to increase or decrease next year?

We’d really love to hear your views, whether you are the CEO, CFO, MD, a manager, senior or junior member of the team.

Our mini survey takes no more than a few minutes and is strictly private and confidential.


Feel free to forward the link to your friends and colleagues.

The Brand Foundation is a Dubai-based branding agency that specialises in the real estate sector. http://www.thebrandfoundation.net

Recently, a client sent us a link to one of their competitors’ websites. He asked: “Why do you think this building is still empty – the brand looks good, the site is informative, the floors are handed over fitted out, visionary architecture, decent facilities management – what’s gone wrong?”

We’d already started investigating this particular building and, likewise the first impressions were pretty good. A great concept, the developer had invested in the branding, commissioned some great photos – complete with stylist input and models. It was packaged stylishly, and up went the website. Then, the developer sat back and waited for the tenants to roll in and sign up to their highly desirable product. It didn’t happen.

Here are a few reasons why we think it went south:

There’s a disconnection between the brand and the reality

The reality and the brand are as far apart as Bengal is to Southampton… and that’s quite a way! The building is pretty much constructed, but the brand was built on the promise of what the tower offers today, not in 2-5 years when the building and surrounding infrastructure was finished. Drive in to the building and you’ll see what we mean. You can’t. It’s impossible to access the car park. The few tenants occupying the building have to park a number of metres away from it, trawl through the sand, and dust down before starting work. Not good.










The premium brand positioning and leasing rates contradict each other

Premium brands command premium rates, regardless of whether you are buying a watch, car or a property – the principle is the same. If a real estate brand shouts about its construction and finishing standards, top notch facilities management, international architecture, etc you wonder why the leasing rates are rock bottom. If the product was a watch, you’d ask yourself: “Is this a fake, will it stop working after a month, what’s wrong with it?” In dropping the prices, perhaps they shot themselves in the foot? Lowered the value of the brand? Given off the wrong signals?

There’s no evidence of a marketing campaign

Armed with their wonderfully crafted product brand, it seemed to have stopped there. The website sits there doing nothing. We suspect the budget didn’t stretch to strategic marketing, or any marketing at all for that matter. Building a product brand and not marketing it is a grave mistake and a waste of money. Unless someone stumbles upon it by chance, who’s going to know about it? In this case, we searched Google for offices to rent in the masterplan – nothing came up apart from a 3rd party listing on page 4.

No construction updates for a year

Another oversight we often see is when real estate developers insist on having a news/construction update page that they don’t update for long periods of time. In this case, a year had passed. SEO issues aside, what message does this give off?

Lack of relevant messaging

This particular real estate brand screams style, style, style. We wonder if it’s a case of style over substance? We couldn’t find a single message within the literature that echoed anything other than style and vision. Largely de-sensitized to glitzy brochures, prospective tenants want to know more these days. Detail is king.

Don’t ignore the context

Although they may feel like it at times, developers can’t complete the work of the master developer. Tell prospective tenants what you are doing to lobby the developer to deliver their part of the deal. It’s a mistake to mislead and paint a rosy picture of a visionary masterplan if it’s still under construction.

Successfully branding and marketing real estate developments is a complex matter that requires a high level of strategic planning on all fronts – a surface-level branding exercise might look good, but lasting success requires a lot more than that.

When we meet prospective clients, we’re always asked: “how can you help us?”

Tell us your story to date – your challenges and successes and we will prepare you a bespoke proposal with your specific needs and budget in mind.

The Brand Foundation is a Dubai-based branding agency that specialises in the real estate sector. http://www.thebrandfoundation.net

The Brand Foundation completes assignment on behalf of Riyadh’s Koden Real Estate (part of Saudi Memaar).


Moon Tower is a luxurious commercial development on Riyadh’s King Fahad Road inspired by the influence of the moon in Islamic culture. Lisa Knight, Founder & Creative Director of The Brand Foundation said: “This has been a great project – a wonderful fusion of Islamic culture and international design standards that runs through the architecture all the way through to the design of the marketing collateral. We are proud to have been involved in such an iconic, centrally located development.”


All of us at TBF wish the team at Koden continued success with the iconic development.


The Brand Foundation is a Dubai-based branding agency that specialises in the real estate sector. http://www.thebrandfoundation.net

%d bloggers like this: