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How to build a 21st century brand

With the rise of the connected individual, marketers must re-think the way they build a brand to be future fit for the digital savvy consumers, writes CARMEN MURRAY, founder of Boo-yah!

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There are many challenges and opportunities as we chase the ideal way for brands to connect with consumers. I had a candid conversation with seasoned and award-winning marketing professional, Benjamin Schoderer who leads Digital for Yum! Brands in Africa on the KFC brand and was recently named “Marketer of the Year 2018” at the IAB Bookmarks in March.

Anna Vaulina, Head of the IAB SA Marketing Council adds, ”As the IAB SA we are extremely excited to have Benjamin and YUM! recognised for brilliant work in the digital space. As the South African digital advertising industry matures, it is exciting to see individuals like Benjamin championing the way brands use digital to meet their objectives in a way that engages and has a positive impact on their customers.”

I spoke with Benjamin about some of the challenges and opportunities for today’s brands.

How would you define a 21st century brand?

For me, it’s a brand that understands the 21st century consumer and how to engage a connected individual. If you understand the connected consumer you will be a connected brand.  You need to understand that behavioural patterns have changed and how this will impact your brand. For example, eating out and movies have evolved into Netflix and Ubereats. In my view, a 21st century brand is ready for this consumer and their demands, anytime, anywhere, on any device.

What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in the marketing landscape over the past 5 years?

First and foremost, the fact that digital has become a central part of marketing and business planning when it was just an afterthought only a couple of years ago.  When I first started at Vodacom in 2007, I joined a digital team of three which was part of the IT team looking after call centre systems. Today they are one of the most successful digital teams in the country and digital is at the heart of what they do, a really amazing journey. We are on a similar journey here at Yum! Brand and thus incredibly excited to have been named Digital Brand of the Year for the second year in a row at the 2018 IAB Bookmarks.

Another big change I’ve noticed, is the change of the Digital Media Landscape.  It has become so sophisticated and advanced and you can measure your objectives and what you want to achieve through audience insights, programmatic media buying and so on.

Digital has certainly grown up.

When I attended the IAB Summit in California earlier this year, I was amazed by the sheer amount of ad tech companies that exist as part of the digital ecosystem. In line with this, there seems to be a trend of the titles “Chief Digital Officer” and “Chief Marketing Officer” collapsing into a “Chief (Brand) Experience Officer” (or similar) type role. Business adapts to reflect the changes in the digital economy we find ourselves in.

We now live in the age of The Connected Individual.  It’s becoming more crucial not just to serve a physical product, but provide an individual brand experience. Tell us more about how you merge the Physical Product and the Digital Experiences for your customers?

First of all, the key experience for us at KFC is our food. We know that if our food is prepared correctly and eaten hot and fresh it really is finger licking good.

We then think about how we enhance this experience through technology or the environment we create around it, along the customer lifecycle.  We do a lot of work around the in-store experience and how do we enable a better service experience for instance. Another example of an exciting experience in our restaurants was the SoundBite Case Study and how we used music as a passion point to attract younger consumers.

Another important aspect is customer service, and enabling our staff with technology to improve the service they offer to our customers.

One of our partner markets created an Employee VR Education Program called the Escape Room.  This was particularly created to educate service staff on hygiene, preparation of food, and applying the service levels in virtual world and exposing them the KFC way of doing things.  See trailer here: KFC Virtual Training Escape Room.

What are the biggest challenges that marketers face, and what advice could you offer them to improve their marketing approach?

The whole marketing universe has just become very confusing and overwhelming for a lot of marketers.  There are so many new technologies being introduced to the market, new ways of targeting consumers and a lot of marketers tell me that they feel intimidated by this constant change.  The risk with that is that marketers tend to stick to what they know instead of exploring new opportunities for their brand or taking any risks.

We combat that at KFC by running several training programmes, often with our digital partners, so that our entire marketing team is comfortable navigating the digital advertising space.

Our customers are embracing this change, and as marketers, we need to be willing to explore and embrace these changes or we will be left behind.  My key advice to marketers would be and stay curious.  You really have nothing to lose, but so much to win. Just find the right fit for your brand to get you the results that you need.

Make budget available for experimentation. Be Brave, test it. If it doesn’t work, move on and try again.

In marketing, collaboration is key. What advice can you give marketers on choosing their partners to ensure the most abundant explosion of creativity and problem solving?

Surround yourself with experts that are right for your brand and with the skill sets that you need. I am not an expert at all digital disciplines (and there are a lot), but I am trying to surround myself with experts in these areas to help me do achieve my vision.

What I have learned is that you acquire your partners based on skills and experience and you retain them based on people and culture.

If there is chemistry, you can make magic happen.  We have built this amazing culture with our partners like Ogilvy and Mindshare, and we just click.  It’s also important to be able to have healthy debates and criticise ideas.  Trust your partners and ensure you are always aligned.

There is a saying: Garbage in, Garbage out.  How can we move away from generic briefs and inform our partners better for effective projects?

Know what you want, what you going to measure and know what success looks like.  Make sure you have strong insight into why people behave the way they do. Ask the question why over and over to match your product to the truth.  It’s a marketing fundamental.

Key takeaways:

1.     Adapt to Change

2.     Your brand is no longer just a product.  You need to augment your product with experiences

3.     All your staff, whether Head Office staff or service staff, should be exposed to technology and empowered to offer better service to customers

4.     Don’t stick to what you know

5.     Go for constant training to get Future Fit and be comfortable with the new

6.     Make budget available for experimentation

7.     Be curious and take risks

8.     Choose the right partners

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TikTok looks for SA talent

The fast-rising short-video platform has launched a #PickMe campaign to discover local stars.

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TikTok, which claims to be the world’s leading destination for short-form videos, launches its first PickMe campaign, an effort to discover creative talents and provide a stage to express themselves in South Africa. Starting March 1, TikTok kicked off a month-long search through participants’ 15-second videos under hashtag #PickMe.

TikTok says it is committed to investing in South Africa and discovering the local talents. The PickMe campaign is supported by its local partners like Huawei, MTV Base and Digify Africa.

Local stars, including comedian and singer Lasizwe and singer Nadia Jaftha, have joined the campaign and called for users to show their talents on TikTok.

There are 5 categories of video shooting in the campaign, namely dance, acting, comedy, singing and cosmetics. Participants need to shoot a 15-second video using TikTok using #PickMe and tag @tiktok_africa to participate in the challenge. The finalists will be selected based on their video performance. The most popular and talented participants will have the chance to win prizes like Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphones, a day at MTV Base, and a once-off-presenter opportunity and attendance at an intensive video production workshop delivered by Digify Africa.

“TikTok has definitely evolved into something that everyone loves and uses. It’s given creators a space to create more unique content and also help the creator gain a whole new kind of fan base, ” says Preven Reddy, Imbewu The Seed TV-star and Megazone radio host who is also a TikTok user.

Says TikTok video creator Mihlali Nxanga: “As a young South African working towards being in the entertainment industry, TikTok has given me the platform to grow my following tremendously. Within 6 months, my fan base has grown by a whopping 90 000, and not only from South Africa, but the whole world. For me, TikTok is not just a content platform, it is a global community.”

The campaign will wrap up on March 31. The list of the finalist will be announced in the app and on official Instagram @tiktok_southafrica. For more information, please visit the TikTok app.

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Rugby fan experience transformed by digital platform

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The South African Rugby Federation has embraced digitalisation as a key enabler of its strategic aspirations. It has worked with Accenture to transform fan engagement for Springbok supporters with the launch of a digital fan platform.

“Digital technology and social media have transformed how modern fans watch, support and engage with their favourite teams,” says SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. “To maintain our relevance amid this new market dynamic, and grow our fan base, we’ve acknowledged the vital need to digitally transform our organisation.”

Wayne Hull, managing director for Accenture Digital in Africa, says: “SA Rugby’s ambition to pivot to a more fan-centric strategy requires digital design, content, platforms and insights because modern consumers, including loyal Springbok supporters, engage predominantly via mobile digital channels and expect hyper-personalised experiences.”

Accenture Digital’s development process started with quantitative and qualitative research, which informed the user experience (UX) design guidelines and content strategy for the digital fan engagement platform.

“To know what fans want, we needed to understand the fans themselves,” says Hull. “The Accenture Digital team mined the research data and identified multiple fan ‘personas’, which all have different content consumption, platform functionality and engagement preferences.”

The platform development team focused on three critical elements to meet these requirements – the customer experience (CX), the engagement engine and cloud-based deployment.

“To deliver a memorable and engaging CX, Accenture Digital leveraged leading digital experience software,” says Hull. “The result is a fully integrated and responsive platform that creates seamless, personalised digital fan experiences across SA Rugby’s content, commerce and digital marketing initiatives in a manner that makes fans feel recognised and connected to the players and the game.”

The new platform will serve as the first point of call for any rugby fan who wants to get their data fix with exclusive statistics, analytics and insights. The platform’s content style will include more visual elements – videos and images – with more concise articles that are easier to digest, in accordance with evolving content consumption preferences on mobile screens. This will complement long-form thought leadership and insight pieces. 

In addition, fans will enjoy exclusive access to player-related content, such as behind-the-scenes footage and game and training performance stats. SA Rugby will also benefit from the ability to track comments and mentions via the Sitecore analytics platform Accenture Digital implemented, to respond and engage in the conversations Springbok fans are having on social media about the game, the teams or the players.

To do this, SA Rugby required a consolidated view of the customer. However, data resided in disparate sites across ticketing providers and SA Rugby’s e-commerce and online magazine databases. This information will be consolidated into the CRM system, with multiple integration points available to leverage this data.

The CRM system’s functionality will help to reveal insights such as fan communication preferences and their likes and dislikes, which will place hyper-relevance at the core of SA Rugby’s fan experience and engagement strategy.

 The final element in the platform development was cloud deployment, which allows fans to access the platform from any device that has an internet connection. The platform is hosted within the Microsoft Azure environment, which is stable, secure and fully redundant. It gives SA Rugby the flexibility to manage the platform themselves, with the option to integrate or scale additional functionality down the line.

Based on the outcome, Hull believes that Accenture Digital has successfully reimagined, built and delivered a world-class, modern and mobile-friendly digital fan platform that creates a fun, immersive and engaging experience for fans.

“It’s a major step towards helping SA Rugby realise its ambition to become a fan-centric, forward-looking and nimble organisation, and we look forward to building and developing the platform further with the team as their digital fan engagement requirements evolve,” says Hull

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