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Two brands are better than one – by Ithra’s Robert Frith

Ithra’s Tanween highlights the value of collaboration in the creative process

by Robert Frith, creative director, Ithra 

From public relations and advertising to media and the broader communications industry, collaboration forms the backbone of our business. Whether we’re tapping others to help tell our story, or consulting others in the telling of theirs, it’s nearly impossible to develop compelling and relevant narratives in isolation. In fact, communication – in the formal and informal sense – is based on two entities coming together, privately and publicly.

It’s not that farfetched to think of ourselves as individual brands in our own rights, working with brands that collaborate with other brands on the macro and micro level. In recent years, the “X” has come to symbolize this coming together of people and companies – typically signifying the creation of something new yet familiar. It has become a marker of the sum being greater than its parts: 1 + 1 = 3.

Think Adidas X Ravi, the food and footwear partnership celebrating community-focused restaurants, Supreme X Louis Vuitton, where streetwear meets luxury fashion, or Uber X Spotify, enabling seamless transitions for listener-riders across the world. These collaborations are built on two brands capitalizing on an existing trend, and in the process delivering a unique product or solution – in addition to promoting their own companies and expanding their brand recognition, often to a new audience.

In recent years, digital media has placed unprecedented emphasis on the need for teamwork, testing, speed and efficiency across the creative industries, while transforming the scope, scale and pace of visual communication. In this context, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, celebrates teamwork in the fifth edition of its flagship creativity season Tanween. Held October 27 to November 12, 2022 under the theme “Collaborate to Create”, the innovation-focused event explores the value of teamwork in the creative process.

Typical questions in the Graphics & Communication track include: What does the future hold for branding, advertising and communications? What role will technology and collaboration play in transforming visual communication and graphic design? Who is collaborating with whom to bring down barriers between disciplines, industries, audiences and cultures? Will technology redefine how we understand, teach and practice visual communication, and will the need for collaboration reorder the skills designers require? Just as new fields of innovation, expertise and employment have emerged in gaming, user experience, and interactive design, what new and (as yet) unidentified roles may develop?

Joe Foster, who cofounded sportswear brand Reebok with his brother Jeff, will discuss brand advancement through partnerships and collaborations, shedding light on the process that has led to their record-breaking performances – on and off the track. Rami Afifi, a Palestinian-Egyptian graphic designer and artist who has worked independently as well as in-house for the likes of Apple and Leo Burnett, will share his story of successful collaborations with the likes of Nike, Porsche, KFC, Amongst Few and Majid Al Futtaim. Other highlights include graffiti artist Carlos “Mare139” Rodriguez talking how to bring street culture into galleries.

The event’s Business of Creativity track includes the Apple and Electronic Arts veterans Bill Burnett and Dave Evans talking “Work X Life Design”, while the Architecture track features the conversation “A Family Practice” between Emirati brothers Ahmed and Rashid Bin Shabib and Saudi brothers Turki and Abdulrahman Gazzaz.

Other global experts include leading Saudi design advocate Princess Nourah Al-Faisal and architectural material wizard Marcus Farr. Event partner include the Academy for Theater and Digitality supported by the Goethe Institute and Netherland Embassy supported artist Arne Hendriks.

Tanween 2022 presents a deep dive into collaboration across the board, and encourages us to reflect on our relationships with nature, technology and each other. For more information on the event, visit www.ithra.com.