Brand and business model for PDC entrepreneurship and business incubation PaaS startup, Saudi Arabia

Research / interviews / brand strategy / business model innovation / brand architecture / visual identity

Dhow is an Industry 4.0 Platform as a Service based in the GCC connecting entrepreneurs in the engineering, tech, smart manufacture and education communities. Its mission is to support the participation of entrepreneurs in infrastructural projects of scale in the GCC through business incubation and networks. The business owners invited me to develop their brand and communications platform and to develop innovative ways of launching the concept to build the platform and network rapidly.The brand needed to appeal to government and private sector partners, funders as well as young entrepreneurs and millennial graduates returning from universities around the globe.


A series of workshops in the Middle East with the business owners provided me with direction for the strategy phase. I architected and directed an exhaustive research project, gathering insights on the diverse audience segments and the global and GCC operating environment. I developed a framework to manage our approach to audience segments that ranged from Governments to students, and undertook an in-depth analysis of their respective brand and messaging requirements. This structured and detailed analysis provided us with the insights we required to develop the business model, brand and communications strategy. It also provided us with useful clues that lead us to develop innovations such as brand extensions, service and product offerings. These served as valuable new ways of connecting to audience segments while enabling new revenue streams. I designed the brand architecture around this. The strategy phase included operating environment research and analysis, competitor research, benchmarking, competitive positioning scenarios, five forces analysis, audience segmentation, stakeholder analyses, user profiling, empathy mapping, value proposition, messaging hierarchy, business modelling and communications strategy, design strategy.

Visual identity

The brand essence identified Dhow as an "architect of journeys and catalyst of connections", reflected in the trademark design. The visual identity centred on saturated colour conveys the concept of light: the English translation of the word Dhow. The visual identity extended across digital, print, event and PR media.

The result was an invigorating, engaging and well-structured brand and communications platform that communicated the potential of the Industry 4.0 space to its key markets. Designed as a dynamic, agile brand that provide credibility and professionalism, Dhow enjoys its positioning as a GCC leader in business incubation. Key learnings: In an industry that is rapidly evolving, change is a certainty. The ability to be responsive, adaptable and flexible in the content of the strategy, and the project process, was key to achieving a robust and authentic brand that will withstand the ongoing pace of change.

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