Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

For a legacy brand such as Siemens, the communications challenges it faces are less about brand awareness and more about demystifying the brand for consumers – helping them see that Siemens’ diverse engineering and digital portfolio plays a significant role in SA society.

Most people don’t actually know what the company does, says Siemens Southern & Eastern Africa corporate communications director Keshin Govender. In reality, the brand plays a large a part in everyday life, providing technology for turbines, trains, smart grids and digital factories, for example. 

“We digitally transform industries, harness energy resources to improve power generation, move people and goods via road and rail, and develop complex solutions for our customers’ challenges through our digital analytics platform,” Govender says. “Quite simply, our technology makes things work, but it’s hard for everyday consumers to imagine exactly how this happens.”

The solution? Him, Her & Me, a short film that forms part of an integrated campaign, using an interactive narrator and a “day in the life of” concept to show the role Siemens plays in society. This, says Govender, forms the basis of the company’s marketing and communications strategy in the country and in Africa. “It’s about developing creative solutions that connect with people and developing meaning in a complex market.”

The big take-out: The Siemens brand recently solved a major business challenge – getting people to understand the role the company plays in their daily lives – with an integrated campaign that is underpinned by a quirky short film called Him, Her & Me.

As a technology company, Siemens tends to speak in what Govender calls an “engineering voice”. However, the idea behind the short film was to move away from the traditional and tired corporate story-telling approach to one that highlights relatable human moments made possible by the brand, thereby “demystifying” the role Siemens technology plays in society. “The interactive narrator has a subtle relationship with the main characters, but essentially, he is the voice of Siemens,” Govender explains.

This integrated approach to communications, which addresses niche and sometimes broad target audiences, has to be continuously measured. “Taking heed of disruptive and emerging mediums, we have stay to agile in developing engaging stories and communications assets for our audiences. These must be measured and adapted according to what our customers want to see, and when and where they want to see it,” he says.

Since the communications campaign launched at the World Economic Forum in May, it has performed well above industry averages, says Govender. It has also received positive feedback internally. Employee engagement in a large multinational company is often challenging, he explains, but as a result of this new approach to communications, employees are now able to make dinner-table conversation about what the company does, and explain how they help make a difference in SA each day.

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