In July 2012, Stefan and Adriana Liute left Grapefruit agency and started their own branding firm – Storience – that has quickly attracted a series of key brands to its portfolio. At the beginning of 2015 Storience started a new chapter in its history: the opening of a new office in London. BR talked with Stefan Liute about the agency’s road in London, differences between the Romanian and the London clients and new wishes and expectations.
How has your professional life changed since moving to the UK?
Our professional lives have become more challenging – we need to make a name for ourselves here, and we can’t achieve that by just being “a branding agency”. There are plenty of brand agencies out there, and each needs to show how it is different. We learn a lot, both in practical and in conceptual terms and in London we feel we are at the forefront of brand strategy, design and communication.
How many and what clients have you gained since opening your London Office?
In the last year we’ve gained seven clients from technology and IT to real estate and professional & financial services, both from London and abroad.
What was different from what you were expecting?
The sheer size and complexity of the market, which forces agencies to specialize on a niche – so small, apparently, that we’d never thought that could be a viable market. Just think of a 60-employee agency creating only annual reports for corporations. Or branding agencies serving only an industry – for example, real estate. It’s absolutely fascinating, entertaining, motivating and daunting at the same time.
How different are the London clients than the Bucharest/Romania-based ones?
Compared to Romanians, UK clients are:
- more open, more willing to acknowledge specialists and experts, and heed their advice (there’s no ”I know best” obsession there)
- more result-oriented, and more interested to gauge the impact of their activities and investment, within and outside marketing
- less skeptical about everything and everyone around them
- more reliable (in terms of honoring contract terms, payment deadlines and so on)
What are your wishes/expectations from this year?
We’ll reposition ourselves so that we have a clearer, more distinctive offering in all our markets. We hope this will help us grow our awareness and our reputation, particularly in the UK.
How often do you go to Romania and how are you exactly working on projects?
We’re visiting Romania once every one or two months, going wherever business is taking us, from Timisoara to Iasi to Bucharest (thankfully, London airports offer direct flights to almost everywhere in Romania). We (Adriana and I) are involved in all our projects, wherever they are.
Do you mostly work for European, UK or Romanian clients at this moment?
We serve a majority of Romanian clients, with European, UK and American clients making up about a third of our turnover. We expect the latter category to reach 50 percent of our business in 1-2 years, and go to two thirds in another 2 years.
How would you characterize the British branding industry and how far behind is Romania?
The UK branding sector is our continent’s biggest and most advanced one. It serves clients all over the world, from all corners of Europe to Australia and South America. It is a mature, highly-competitive sector, where innovation happens as we speak and the most talented people in the world generate progress without asking for patience or permission. London is clearly way ahead of Romania, not just because it serves an advanced local economy, but many foreign markets as well.
More about Storience’s beginning in the UK you can find in the interview offered to BR by Stefan and Adriana Liute in February 2015.
More about Stefan Liute
Co-founder of the branding and digital agency Grapefruit (1999) and of the branding agency Storience (2012), Stefan Liute is one of the most renowned brand strategist from Romania. With an experience of more than 16 years of working with brands in various fields of activities,
Ștefan received numerous international awards (ReBrand 100, Transform Awards, Pentawards) and was part of several juries of communication and branding, both in the country and outside of it (Transform Awards, Effie Romania, Superbrands Romania, Internetics). Alongside his practical activity, Liute translated two books and taught strategic brand management at a post-university course at the University of Bucharest. He has a diploma in medicine and a post-graduate one in communication and public relations.
In four years of activity, the company has signed up such brands as Activate, Clotier, Avenor College, Shakespeare School, Unica pharmacy, Computaris, Sandalandala, Mega Image, Bookster, McCann PR and Romanian singer Andra.