Rana El Baba: 'Rethinking the way we do business'
Posted on 2020 Jul,09

The sudden, unforeseen economy-wide lockdown forced firms to switch literally overnight to completely digital models. For Rana El Baba, Founder and Creative Director of The Wonderful Bureau, Lebanon, speed was of the essence: they needed to find creative solutions for emerging customer needs, as the crisis had the unexpected benefit to accelerate digital transformation, which forced many agencies to rethink and optimize the way they do business.

Overall Feeling

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the world around us, I can definitely affirm that we are facing a lot of uncertainties as an agency: not only because of Covid itself, but also because of the powerful economic recession we have all been dealing with, whether it’s in Lebanon or worldwide. And as the Founder of The Wonderful Bureau, I now, and more than ever, feel extremely responsible for the future of my business.

We are a creative agency that has been in the market for around nine years, and in order to always offer the best creative ideas and designs to our clients plus maintain our standards, our minds need to be at ease and reassured at all times.

This is what I have been trying to do ever since the Covid pandemic erupted: to ensure that The Wonderful Bureau remains a stress-free and worry-free environment that encourages positivity, creativity, and growth for all our team.

Clients wise, the ongoing motivation should definitely be transmitted to them as well: they were and are still suffering from this huge instability, and many of them were seeing their businesses falling apart through their own bare eyes. As their agency, it is our duty to provide them with creative solutions and show them how they can strategically overcome this phase to survive with minimal damage. Because after all, it is about survival in a market that is everything but stable.

Besides the above, we can’t deny that Covid-19 changed the way people think and perform daily tasks. It made us look at things differently as well, and pushed us to become more innovative in order to sustain our business and surpass this critical phase. 

Impact on Business

Covid-19 definitely challenged us to rethink the way we usually do business, both on a national and international scale. For example, one of the important decisions we took was to “not put our eggs in one basket”: it’s all about dividing the risks in various markets instead of one, which is Lebanon. It makes it way easier for us to bounce back after Covid in case one market crashes.

Another important step we took was investing in our digital skills: because the future is indubitably the digital world. We are increasing our knowledge in e-commerce, online marketing, and all tools necessary for a proper shift to the online world. Also, I personally believe that print ads will massively loose its importance: I’m mainly talking about paper magazines and billboards. I see online advertising as being more efficient since we can reach more people, and most importantly the right people, anywhere and anytime.

We also became more aggressive in terms of self-advertising for our own agency online, because it’s one of the easiest ways to get our name out there, locally and internationally. And therefore, a great way to get more leads.

Dealing with clients

Like all businesses, we are with clients either on project basis or retainer agreement; all meetings are now done virtually via zoom or other platforms. At first, it was a bit challenging specially since we were used to having some sort of face-to-face contact when meeting a client for the first time. But now, briefs and even final artworks are shared by mail and sent to be discussed via an e-meeting.

Future of the industry

We believe that the ad industry will eventually emerge from the crisis, but in Lebanon, it will be a bit slower and harder because of the massive recession. We also believe that, due to Covid-19, many businesses got to see the potential behind going online, so there will be an enormous shift towards the online world, and everything digital will improve and grow. Shrink in the traditional ways of advertising will definitely perpetuate, which will allow digital agencies to flourish like never before.