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BBAM INTERVIEW SERIES
Interview with Elie Papiernik, Co-Founder and CEO of Centdegrés

Centdegrés is an international creative firm powered by more than 100 talented people around the world. Its mission is to concentrate all its creative forces on helping its clients win their battles, maximize their impact and challenge the status quo through creativity.

Centdegrés is a NETWORK SPANNING 11 COUNTRIES AND 19 STRATEGICALLY LOCATED OFFICES and provides deep insight into your every business needs, from brand definition to creative deployment. Centdegrés shapes the brand’s entire ecosystems with a full spectrum of services and expertise across numerous industries and business sectors:

BEAUTY & FRAGRANCES / WATCHES & JEWELRY / FASHION & ACCESSORIES / HOUSING & REAL ESTATE / CORPORATE & SERVICES / CULTURE & EVENTS / FOOD & BEVERAGES / HOTELS & RESTAURANTS / HEALTH & CARE

Brand intelligence, Brand identity, Graphic design, Product design, Interior design, Architecture & Brand content

BBAM: You have an amazing portfolio of collaborations within the beauty industry – would you like to share with us some highlights of your evolution in this field?

Elie Papiernik: We started off as a creation agency and morphed into a creation and brand intelligence agency, which means that we find solutions to strategic issues through creation. We were also a French agency that worked on projects meant to be exported and grew into a structurally international agency with offices throughout the world managed by centdegrés’s talents. It is a notion of “international squads” which are teams that can be mobilized all over the world to tackle subject that can be somewhat delicate at times and require deep knowledge of the local and very specific environment.

Thanks to this internationalization, we went from a structure of international clients to also working on projects for local clients; having settled in different countries, such as China, Korea, Brazil, middle eastern countries etc. We were fundamentally and passionately interested in developing, in these rapidly developing countries, local and beautiful brands that we had helped in creating, and turning them into local actors firstly and international actors secondly. We went from working with big brand names and groups to also working with start-ups which are benefiting from our era’s digital advancement to gain easier access to the market. These start-ups are generally much more diversified, which makes way for much different issues. Our services have also developed from creation and brand intelligence services to coaching delivered from one entrepreneur to another. This, I believe, is a major element.

Finally, we have always believed in creation as a strategic tool for brand’s development, but we have also underlined the importance of bold, audacious creations that build the specificity of a brand. Today, specially in the post-Covid 19 era, this evolution is becoming clearer and audacity is undoubtedly becoming a key element in promoting the image of brands that are seeking boldness.

BBAM: Many companies have been struggling in the past few months, while some have been intensifying their branding and marketing efforts; do you have any tips on the best branding strategies for beauty businesses these days?

Elie Papiernik: This answer must be given taking into account a context of extremely strong competition of international and local brands, DNVBs and start-ups, knowing that all brands nowadays enjoy an easy access to the market. We believe that there are four elements to be taken into consideration, the first one being the originality of the branding, products and consumer experiences that we offer. The second element is a clear and simple message to get across, and by simple I mean a message that is decipherable and understandable by consumers. The third element is probably one of the most important ones and it is integrity. The messages conveyed by any brand that we work with and its actions must at all times be honest and motivated by the will to do good. We must always do what we say and say what we do; that is a major element in today’s branding strategies. The fourth element, which is quite fashionable but no less important, is inclusiveness, which means using with our branding and communication strategies a language that targets large populations and diverse communities.

BBAM: The beauty industry is, par excellence, deeply connected to a personal human experience – the products have to be seen, touched, experienced in terms of colours, textures, fragrance and effects on the skin. How do you think the ‘new normal’ in terms of safety precautions will affect the interactions and flow in the industry going forward?

Elie Papiernik: Post Covid-19, it is clear that humans have a huge ability to adapt to new situations. Humans get used to everything and manage to get by in times of crisis. At the same time, we realize how much we need human relations and how much these relations are irreplaceable. In that context, brands must try to better understand their clients and find a safe experience for them, as safety will be the new rule to go by, but an experience that will be no less human and poly-sensory. There are therefore different paths to follow. The first one is that of testing, which is in the world of beauty a very important experience; we must reinvent a safe retail experience through finding new sampling modes. We are already working on that. The second path is that of e-commerce which must be accompanied in the near future by human interaction. This means that when we buy beauty products at a certain price, the call center must employ people who can make a diagnosis and suggest products that are adapted to our needs. The third path to take is that of home delivery which must be done in a non-traditional way. Instead of a driver whose duty is solely to deliver a product, the delivery must be done by a qualified person who specializes in beauty and who would be able to give beauty and makeup recommendations to the client. I believe that this is a process that must be developed. Finally, there are new generations of influencers who should be made into ambassadors of brands, promoting their message with integrity, honesty and transparency, to help consumers form an opinion when they are not able to experience the product themselves at selling points.

I conclude by saying that we are coming out of a crisis that should be taken as a huge opportunity to reinvent the relationship between brands and their clients, and that is good because centdegrés’ team of 100 talented creative activists is convinced of the ability of creation to come up with new tangible solutions that will put the crisis behind us and reshape the future, and that is our reason to wake up in the morning with a smile on our faces.

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