The unconventional on Brand | By KetemaKebede –Senior Editor,Middle East
Born in Ethiopia and Middle East’s most notable expert on brand.
First, I would like to thank you for accepting our invitation to this interview. It is a great honor to know that someone born in Ethiopia and from an origin is the Middle East’s most notable consultant, author and speaker on brand. I would like to take my readers on a journey that will inspire them and show how far an Ethiopian born can reach.
ABN | Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Said Baaghil. My ethnic origin is Hardrami and I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to a notable business family. My family lived in Ethiopia during reign of his imperial majesty Haile Selessai.
Right after the revolution, I left Ethiopia to Egypt and then Malta and later in the U.S. where I finished my education and the start of my career.
ABN |What sparked your interest to pursue a career in brand?
Well, I am a marketing graduate from the University of Maine and I have always enjoyed marketing and consumer insight. Throughout my career, great marketers -such as Alries- inspired me through their line of thoughts which was very well different from the mainstream. Brand is holistic and is not exclusive to just marketing, so I focused on the brand arm of marketing, found my passion there and continued with a purpose to be the best I could possibly be in this field.
ABN |You authored and co-authored several books, can you share with us how that came along?
Sure. It all started when I was publishing articles for “Gulf Marketing Review” in Dubai. The editor encouraged me to publish my thoughts, so I published my first book through a U.S. based publisher. This was not met with much success but my second book “The Power of Belonging”, things changed for me and I caught the attention of international consultants and subject matter experts on brand. I co-authored two books, one of which is “Brands in Glass House” with two U.S. based authors and this was focused on content creation.
ABN | I also noticed your name in two of the America’s most popular authors on brand: Dan Hill and Libby Gill. How did that happen?
Well, Dan sent the manuscript of his book “Emotionomics” and it took me exactly three days to read it. I submitted my praise on the fourth day and it was great honor to have my name along the world’s most notable names. Libby and I were introduced through a friend so I shared my thoughts on her book on brands to find later that my comments and praise appeared on her website.
ABN | There seems to be a misconception on what brand is, most people think it is only logos, what can you say about a brand?
Brand is the holistic identity which defines and lays the path for the company’s purpose. Most people relate brand to marketing only, but this is as problematic as tying brand to logos. Brand is in the heart of the business strategy to serve all stakeholders. Brand is an idea that stands uniquely from any generic form and referred to by a certain name that stands fully to describe the idea, as a story in a journey filled with unique values, design and tone.
ABN | Why did you choose the word “Unconventional” to be associated with your name?
It literally says who I am and the things I love to do. This is one word that describes my essence as a being. It is my personal brand positioning and reflects a lot on my line of thoughts, consultancy and even my look and feel. The world knows me us Unconventional Baaghil. I cannot change it and I love it!
ABN | How do you feel about your upcoming speech in Ethiopia?
Very excited! This will be the first time I speak in my birth place. In fact, it is an honor to get this opportunity and speak to minds that wish to evolve and understand how brands can benefit their businesses. I look forward to the event and this is the least I can do considering the current wave of change that is spurring the region.
ABN | Tell me about your travels and speaking engagements?
I travel quite frequently. I spoke in major European and American cities and this will be the first time in Ethiopia and second ever in Africa after Egypt. I look forward to speaking in more African cities on brand in the future.
ABN|ABN is published in Ethiopia and distributed in East Africa, Middle East etc., what is your message for our readers?
Find your purpose before you decide to pursue your dream. I love Ethiopia and I wish to see Ethiopia stable and among the growing emerging markets.