Picture: 123RF/olegdudko
Picture: 123RF/olegdudko

Brands often define their character through the stories that they tell. They’re the stories that either appeal or are ignored. They shape the connection between the brand and the consumer. So, how do agencies account for all the differences, to build successful campaigns that unite consumers through their similarities?

During a recent Future of Media digitised event the focus was on where content and culture intersect through content creation, and how they should interweave to deliver an effective brand experience. The event was held in collaboration with Vodacom, EziAds, Everlytic, Proudly SA and The MediaShop, and was moderated by Kenzy Mohapi, media personality at Jacaranda FM.

In opening, Mohapi asked the participants what good content means to them.

The panel agreed that what is most important for good content is that it’s memorable, consistently different and compelling. It’s important to know who your audience is and how you are speaking to them. Using data to really understand the consumer will help personalise a brand’s visual alignment, language and tone to suit that of the desired audience. Meaningful content is universal and needs to be purposeful in its articulation.

Nicola Cooper, a trend researcher, analyst and cultural strategist, said: “There is a universal golden thread that ties consumers together, but in our context the focus needs to be interpreted locally. There is no copy-and-paste approach; brands need to tailor their approach to the diversities and intricacies that we have in SA. In order for brands to succeed, they are being forced to alter the narrative effectively to relate to cultures.”

Cathy Nolan, a copywriter at King Price Insurance, spoke from her experience in the insurance industry and mentioned that the financial services industry has historically relied on very serious advertising. “You must remember that people would rather be putting those extra rands into a holiday fund than into an insurance grudge purchase,” she said. So when King Price launched into a cluttered market, they needed to stand out, and they chose humour to do so. “We have been successful because we combined humour with respect and ensured that we added that relatable SA twist.”

Outside of the content, we need to take into consideration the channels we are advertising on.  “One size does not fit all! What works in print may not work on a billboard,” said Sadika Fakir, integrated media and digital director at Tiger Brands.  “Content agility puts the lenses of the landscape in play. Brands need to understand where the consumer is in heart and mind and play into that content space.”

To carve, create and curate content, one would need to bridge the gap between the consumer’s wants and needs, the psychographic information and the agency content. However, to truly succeed at this you almost need to work backwards – with the end in mind. “You can create the most beautiful content but without focusing on the distribution channels, it could fall flat,” added JD Engelbrecht, Everlytic MD.

Another point that came through during the conversation is that building an emotional or aspirational connection with your audience is vital. Cooper states: “It shouldn’t be a shotgun approach. Understanding who your consumer is and what makes them tick is what will make the difference.”

An authentic human connection is the best way to reach your audience. It’s important to collaborate with the right kind of people to represent your brand, Fakir says. Fakir goes on to say that thought needs to be given to how you would like to utilise an influencer and ensure that they are representing the brand authentically. She says she feels that influencers who are already embedded in culture tend to be more authentic and have higher levels of audience engagement.

Engelbrecht said: “Collaboration is successful only when all parties understand what the brand stands for and what they want to achieve and, of course, when you trust each component of your value chain with the task at hand.”

the big take-out

Building an emotional or aspirational connection with your audience is vital for a  successful campaign.

Mohapi closed off by talking about the “Share a Coke” campaign. This was probably one of the most effective and authentic personal brand experiences to date. “That’s the kind of influence you want to have. That’s where organic content creation comes in,” she said.

When it comes to content, people want to feel seen, heard and represented. People want to feel like they are a part of the movement, and that will add to the longevity of a brand.

The next digitised event, “Energising our Biggest Brand – South Africa” will be taking place on July 9 2020 at 10h00. For more information, or to register, click here.

If you would like to partner and be involved in driving these insightful sessions, contact Cortney Hoyland on Hoylandc@arena.africa

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