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The challenge, made all the more pressing by the economic crisis, was to tell its new story to the stakeholders in Abu Dhabi’s society and to a wider audience of visitors and investors in the region and beyond. To help shape this story, we spoke to key stakeholders and commissioned research (which is now being repeated) to gauge the needs and perceptions of different audiences.


Aldar is Abu Dhabi’s largest developer. It was established in 2004 to accelerate real estate, entertainment and tourism growth in the capital of the United Arab Emirates. This was part of a government strategy to diversify beyond oil. In the past 7 years Aldar has spearheaded projects with a headline value equivalent to the entire construction industry in the UK. In the wake of the global financial downturn, Aldar adapted their business strategy to achieve more sustainable revenue growth through the operation and management of their assets. That was the commercial context to our work.


Wolff Olins worked with Aldar to restructure its offer to an experience-led model, creating a more human face to its communications and helping realign its business to be customer facing. We created a new ‘contemporary Arab’ brand and style of communications that goes against the convention of property branding in this region. Rather than talking about projects and buildings, the new style emphasises thinking about the long term, caring for people, their quality of life, whilst preserving the culture of the Emirate.


The new brand was launched in October 2010, in the midst of the toughest financial times that the real estate industry has known. We conducted a brand measurement study in December 2010 to benchmark Aldar’s old brand. The second wave of this study will be completed late 2011. The new brand sparked press commentary that it is brave, unseen in the region and a first for the real estate industry internationally.