Now more than ever, brands are weighing in on trending topics and chasing “social currency”. But in 2021, is this a choice or a given? The most recent FM Redzone discussion, moderated by Arye Kellman, chief creative officer at Tilt, put the spotlight on how modern culture drives brand communications and the demand on agencies and brands to connect to culture if they want to engage meaningfully with their customers.

Wanda Mkhize, executive for smart home and content at Telkom, pointed out that technology and digital marketing are allowing brands to engage more authentically with their customers. Marketers, she said, need to understand the customer experience and meet a need when designing appropriate products and services. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” she said, quoting a Telkom leadership maxim that there is nothing wrong with failing – but fail fast.

Shaun Frazao, head of digital and content at Wavemaker, said the biggest mistake brands make is that they are inconsistent. Consistency, he argued, needs to be across the board and includes how a brand talks to its consumers as well as the values of the brand. In today’s environment, authenticity and a consumer-centric approach are critically important.

Another trending topic is “purpose”. Frazao said that rather than just communicating with purpose, brands need to lead with purpose.

Charlotte Nsubuga-Mukasa, head of brand marketing at Momentum, said understanding the narrative and the underlying human truth is important if a brand hopes to come across as authentic. She agreed with Frazao that consistency and authenticity are important.

Momentum’s latest campaign is called “Advice for Success” and is about advice for living your best life given the fact that many people are struggling with mental health issues, job losses and financial insecurity. A decade ago this kind of campaign would have been kicked out of the boardroom, conceded Nsubuga-Mukasa. Purpose-driven advertising today is about having an impact on society beyond your product to make a positive difference. Not all brands need to be doing a Nando’s style of communication, but all brands should be focusing on communication that is true to their brand values. 

Linda Appie, head of marketing at TymeBank, said the bank’s positioning and communication are driven by its brand values. The bank has lived up to its purpose through the pandemic by waiving fees for USSD transfers and maintaining its interest rate for savings accounts even when the interest rate dropped.

The next Redzone digital event will take place at on May 11 at 9am and will put the spotlight on Radio Talent Management: Reshaped and Redefined. To register for the event, click here.

The big take-out:

Not all brands need to be doing a Nando’s style of communication, but all brands should be focusing on communication that is true to their brand values.


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