Small and big brands no longer exist

23 May 2019

Interview: Haris Mujanović, Account Director, Via Media, for Business Magazine

Every day you wake up and make the conscious decision to go to the agency and work in communications. That famous #agencylife – which is well known for being demanding and fast-paced. We wonder why? What are the main reasons you are in this industry?

Demanding and fast-paced sounds perfect to me. I think that you have to love this job, either you’re in or you’re out, there is no middle ground. Not a single day is the same, you’re surrounded by creative people with similar but also diametrically opposite views of the world. Of course, there are also difficult days, but when you have a strong team, it’s easier to get through them. I still get excited when I see the small brand we created from scratch start showing serious results on the market or when they are about to reveal a new campaign. That moment when you realize that you, along with your team, are making a difference is a professional accomplishment that gives everything meaning.

What does it mean to be successful in this industry? What are the criteria?

As someone who is always committed to KPI’s, it’s hard for me to answer this question.There are many different criteria because success is relative and rather individual. For me, it means that the agency is growing, that people are satisfied and fulfilled, that we are creating added value, challenging established rules and setting a new quality standard on the market.

The Branding Conference has been organized for 9 consecutive years. To what do you owe the success of organizing such a significant event for the creative industry in our country but the region as well?

The Branding Conference is a project where we have absolute creative freedom and where we enjoy all the challenges that organizing such a significant event entails. We are continuously committed to surpassing our own expectations and the expectations of participants year after year.  Also, every year we realize a stronger and higher quality program, creative solutions, a great atmosphere and an increased number of participants.

Behind you is the successful organization of the 8th Branding Conference. What does that period look like in retrospect? What changes have you noticed through the organization of this event?

At a basic level, it looks like the industry has changed drastically because every year we are talking about new trends and actualities. That being said, trends have definitely changed, but ultimately they need to change. What has not changed is the formula for creating and maintaining successful brands. Serious brands know that the core of their brand has to be strong and defined without frequent or radical changes. With that in mind, trends should be used to upgrade the basic promise made to consumers by the brand. They should be used to choose new channels or content through which the brand connects with its environment.

Why is “Hack the Influence” this year’s theme?

We are all exposed daily to an infinite amount of information that we essentially do not process at a conscious level. The times of one-way communication in which we deliver information to consumers is long gone. How to then reach modern consumers and stand out amongst the endless noise of communication? Brands struggle for attention, and then for affection. We believe that in that fight they must primarily serve the people. That is why “Hack the Influence” is the theme of this year’s Branding Conference. We will find out how the world’s largest brands have integrated themselves into the communities of their consumers, and how they are increasingly taking a stance on important issues (even at the cost of losing a certain segment of consumers), all to be relevant to new generations, who can not be fooled by classic advertising clichés.

Throughout your career, what has left the largest impact? Did something drastic happen that made you change the way you look at your job and the way you work on a daily basis?

It’s more a combination of events and challenges that have shaped the way I think and approach my work, not a singular drastic event. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to lead some of the biggest campaigns and projects in BiH, such as the “Skinimo okove – Take the Chains Off” campaign, rebranding for the domestic supermarket chain “Bingo” and now, most recently, the organization of the EBRD Annual Meeting in BiH. Every single one of them has shaped my professional career in their own unique way. If I had to pinpoint some specific moments, they would surely be the campaigns that gained international attention and found themselves on the pages of the Guardian, BBC, and Reuters as well as winning the first Golden Sampler award in BiH for the Public Procurement Museum Campaign realized for USAID BiH. That campaign shocked the public and, in a practical manner, displayed the devastating damage that corruption inflicts on our society. I think that’s why we work in this business. To change things for the better. 

What global brands have had a significant impact on humanity and can serve as an example for other brands? Why?

A relatively new example of a brand with significant impact is Nike. Their campaign with Colin Kaepernick took a stand and supported NFL players who protested against racial inequality, police brutality and other social problems affecting US citizens. Large brands rarely take a stand in this way and the campaign sparked a flood of comments, discussions, and even protests against the brand. They took the risk because they believed in future generations, and it turned out to be a complete hit because they achieved record online sales. They continued with the same creative strategy this year and recently presented a new campaign with Serena Wiliams, which supports and encourages strong women to dare to realize their dreams. Through these campaigns, we see a continuity in their approach and a clear commitment to involve themselves in the problems of the wider community and its consumers.

In your opinion, in what state is the creative industry in our country? The creative industry in our country definitely can and should be better. For too long now, we have been in a vicious cycle of distrust and “playing it safe”. Through this “safe” approach, we constantly do the same or similar things and expect better results. That simply will not happen. Likewise, agencies need to firmly stand behind the ideas they believe in and connect them to concrete results.

What will this year’s conference advise brands in BiH?

Small and big brands don’t exist, only memorable and ignored brands do.