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‘Every Brand We Create Tells a Story’ – Interview with Dimosthenis Broussalis, GM of DASC Branding

Dimosthenis Broussalis first entered the world of Branding and Design in 1983 and today he shows the same passion and enthusiasm as he did over 30 years ago.

“How many get to make their passion their profession?”, Broussalis wonders.

“Every day something new, something different. Designing images, building a brand for somebody’s life vision. That’s exciting. After hundreds of projects, it still feels like the first time. Every time.”

Broussalis is the general manager of DASC Branding, a company which kicked off as an idea between three friends and then continued on to become a leader in Branding Strategy and Identity Building in Greece.

“Every brand we create tells a story. In images. Tailor-made. It’s the best job in the world,” he says.

In this interview, Broussalis tells us just how important branding is as a factor for marketing an enterprise. A Branding expert and passionate brand storyteller for over 35 years, he also gives us his point of view on Greece’s branding at the moment.

“Our country brand, our destinations, our hotel brands, our restaurants and practically everything that makes up the brand ‘visit Greece’ need vast evolution,” he tells GTP Headlines.

Βroussalis specializes in Export Branding, Destination Branding and Tourism Branding with an emphasis on Food Tourism, as well as on Corporate Branding. In recent years, he actively contributes to the effort to promote Greece beyond borders by helping businesses of all sizes achieve their export goals and gain a place within the international market. He is also a keynote speaker at various Greek and international conferences and workshops and he collaborates with Greek universities and bodies.

“It’s amazing to give birth to someone’s vision and turn his dream into a viable, thriving international brand and then watch it conquer markets and bring in value and sales.” –  Dimosthenis Broussalis

GTP: Please tell our readers a bit about yourself. How did you get involved in the branding business?

Dimosthenis Broussalis: I would have to say that it was a fortunate… accident! I was originally aiming to become an architect, but I ended up working as a graphic designer right after graduating design school back in 1983. I co-founded the design agency DASC, along with another two classmates. Call it “risk ignorance” and young age arrogance, but I was only 21!
Thirty-five years have passed and we are still here, “alive and kicking”. We quickly evolved into DASC Branding, responding to the market request for branding.
I honestly believe that I have the best job in the world: never boring, creative by default, different every time. It’s pure, serious fun. Plus, we get paid to do it!
It’s amazing to give birth to someone’s vision and turn his dream into a viable, thriving international brand and then watch it conquer markets and bring in value and sales. And I do this everyday, lucky me!

GTP: Just how important is branding as a factor for marketing an enterprise?

Dimosthenis Broussalis: A few years ago, a fact came to mind: “All MegaBrands, were a startup once!”.
And branding is their foundation: their values, USP and the reason they exist, transformed into focused applicable strategies, effective concepts, sexy images and meaningful messages.
Branding is an international methodology of how we create a successful, ambitious brand as unique as the entrepreneur’s vision. Of how we create something viable, powerful, on its way to the international market.
And how we manage this valuable asset and explore it for many years, bringing profits to the brand owner. And this is the case for Greece, as well.
Branding is a part of the product making, right from the start. It expresses its DNA, in a crystal-clear way. It’s a “make it or brake it” factor, especially when the brand is young. It’s an investment. It’s the best chance a brand has to form a favorable perception in the minds of consumers.

GTP: How do you define destination branding and export branding and what are the main challenges?

Dimosthenis Broussalis: Destination branding applies to places that want to become a competitive tourism destination. It has significant differences from “commercial” branding.
A regular product can be manufactured and formatted in the shape the market demands. We can make it bigger or cheaper, create its story and image, decide its name and ingredients. We own it!
But places are a whole different ballgame: they already exist, sometimes for centuries, already have shape and image, history, traditions and culture. They tend to form changing, sensitive brands and need wise management.
Their proposal should be based solely on what they really are or to be consisted of existing “ingredients”. Otherwise their brand will not feel “authentic”.
Places are their people and the buzz they make. They make the place inviting, they are its “stakeholders”. Every resident is a part of the brand essence, influencing its success. Tourism is a definition of “People to People” business.
“Export branding”, a term coined by DASC Branding, is a methodology focused on creating brands for exporting quality goods, like fine food, to the international market. It’s a complex branding form, based on solid strategy, acting as the brand’s compass, its road map to success. A safety net for the budget invested, protecting from failures and missed opportunities.
Export branding proved important for Greek companies and Greek exports. We have signed quite a few Greek export success stories in the recent, turbulent years and we’re proud for our contribution in the national attempt.

GTP: Just how keen are Greek businesses in modernizing their brands? What are the biggest challenges that small businesses face in today’s market?

The Governor - Premium extra virgin olive oil. Branding by Dasc Branding Athens.

The Governor – Premium extra virgin olive oil. Branding by Dasc Branding Athens.

Dimosthenis Broussalis: We Greeks are inventive, resourceful, flexible and imaginative to everything we attempt. But traditionally, we are not very organized or strategy oriented. Greek companies are family-owned and remain so as they grow. This, has a “roof”: they can develop up to a certain point.
This status changes: younger entrepreneurs are well-educated, openminded and their minds remain focused on the international market.
They tend to build modern companies and brands, or modernize the ones they inherited. They are more open to expert advice and are willing to effectively adapt to a changing, demanding global environment. It’s happening as we speak and it’s our only hope.
Their bigger challenge is the Greek business environment. It is not easy to be competitive with limited funding access, enormous taxes and VAT, imported raw materials, bureaucracy and a debatable country reputation. Practically they have no guidance or help from the state. They are on their own and they know it.
Every successful Greek brand is a small miracle, performed by its talented, inspired owner and his competent team of executives and experts.

GTP: What are your thoughts on Food Tourism? Does Greece need more branding where this form of tourism is concerned?

Dimosthenis Broussalis: Food Tourism is the “hunting” to experience authentic, fresh, local, honest, memorable food and recipes. Food tourists – or “foodies” – travel for this and are willing to pay more for it, forming today’s stronger global tourism trend!
Food Tourism (“Tourismos Gefsis” in Greek as we repeatedly suggest here at DASC Branding, and not “gastronomikos tourismos” (gastronomy tourism)) should be a Greek competitive privilege, given the popularity and value of our traditional diet and our top-quality food.
But we must come up with a proposal for the international traveler. Create a solid brand with a believable “myth” and promote this branded culinary heritage consistently as a team, again and again.
It is vital to firmly connect our destinations with their local cuisines and food and to boost their exports, by forming a sustainable, self-supplied everlasting growth circle. We are far from that and we must get there as fast as we can. We must identify this huge opportunity and act on it with all our power.

GTP: How do you find Greece’s branding at the moment? Do you have any examples of (competitor) destinations that are a step ahead of Greece?

Dimosthenis Broussalis: Greek tourism branding is perhaps better than what it used to be, but still has a long way to go comparing to what other countries do. We are surrounded with ambitious competitors, some new and some “traditional”. Everything changes so fast: the market, the trends, the travelers, the way they buy, their expectations.
We are not very familiar with facts like the millenials as the dominant niche, “experiential tourism”, “mobile-only” communication and video consumption, just to name a few. The internet is a powerful catalyst, “rewriting” the rules of the game. Traveler is the King more than ever. He holds the future of every destination in its hands. He shapes their brand with his perceptions.
Our country brand, our destinations, our hotel brands, our restaurants and practically everything that makes up the brand “visit Greece” need vast evolution. We Greeks, must change our philosophy while we still can.
If we stubbornly stand still in this changing environment, we will find ourselves behind the others, very soon.

Dimosthenis Broussalis giving his expert opinion during a panel discussion at the 2nd Hospitality Forum, organized by Ethos Events in Athens.

Dimosthenis Broussalis giving his expert opinion during a panel discussion at the 2nd Hospitality Forum, organized by Ethos Events in Athens.

GTP: You are a keynote speaker at Greek and international conferences and workshops and have collaborations with Greek universities and bodies. Where have you spoken recently and what is next on your agenda?

Dimosthenis Broussalis: I romantically believe that if we keep on sharing new ideas and suggest proven solutions based on international trends and best practices, we would advance Greece’s growth and its competitiveness in tourism and fine-food exports.
That, if we form determined teams with other experts sharing the same beliefs, and we keep on educating as many professionals as we can on all aspect of every sector, then maybe, just maybe we can make a small contribution to a very much needed change.
This is why I have been speaking about Destination branding, Food Tourism and Exports branding in conferences and workshops all over Greece, the last decade. And I will keep on doing this for years to come.
Last year alone, in collaboration with INSETE and the “School of Tourism on Tour” initiative, I spoke in Pieria, Chios, Skiathos, Poros, Sparta, Kalamata and Nafplio. By April 2019, I will have added Chania, Athens and Corfu on the list.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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