Shine your Light
Drive along a Johannesburg highway and it is not just the ‘blue-light brigade’ that attracts our attention.
Companies give us clues all the time about their approach to branding with their billboards, offices and company vehicles. Some show-offs even have LED lights built into their billboards. Exhibitionists (we know who you are) like Richard Branson link arms with busty models like Pamela Anderson and resort to adventurous stunts like travelling by hot-air balloon – and all in the name of grabbing our attention.
Understandably, with so many companies clamouring for our attention (and hard-earned cash), building a brand requires expertise. Nate Digangoane, CEO of Mabatho Events and Promotions, understands this. Mabatho Events represents well-known brands, including, among others, Top Gear Festival, Miller Genuine Draft and Music Television.
The First Meeting
Nate recognises the need to establish ground rules with a client before building them a brand package. Asking them the right questions is a start. “We need to understand their history, the road they have travelled and goals to be achieved,” says Nate. “We get to know our client and their target market. We define what their brand stands for and whether it is funky or classic. These questions are relevant whether they are launching a new product or doing a relaunch.”
Gone Are the Grey Men in Pinstriped Suits
Once perceived as conservative, the financial sector is taking more risks with its branding. “The financial sector has actually stepped up their game,” says Nate. “They are getting more involved in social spaces. Think of FNB whiskey tasting and Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.
“In the past you would not ever mention a financial institution with any social event. The risk is getting associated with certain brands of social standards, which is why brand positioning of any form is crucial – the position of your brand is what sells it to the market.”
When Companies Need to Up Their Game
It is not easy to pinpoint where companies fall short with their branding, because each business is unique and there are many platforms for branding. Nate gives us guidelines to show when a company needs to improve its branding.
Not advertising enough and not making their brand known, as well as a lack of investment and support in respect of marketing their brands, are some of the reasons for falling short. “Branding is ideally the groundwork of the brand and the success path that one envisions the brand will take. Don’t focus on the wrong target market and social platforms. We live in a digital world now and everything is going ‘Cloud’. Even though there are still many businesses afraid of getting on the fast-moving ‘digi train’, many have started moving into this cyberspace.”
Building a Brand
There are many things to consider. “A company’s legacy and direction are vital as well as determining the strategic growth and development of the said brand,” says Nate. “If it is an existing brand, look at the journey the brand took to get to where it is now. Examine why there is a need to rebrand and rebuild. Look at past successes and failures and their causes. What is the desired target market and who are your direct competitors in the market?”
Choose the Right Platform
“Digital media is the future whether we like it or not,” says Nate. She recommends finding out the most appropriate social platforms for the direction which your company is taking. It can be a make or break decision if not used properly.
The good news is that, when used effectively, digital media is an influential tool that yields satisfactory results. Putting a comic spin on branding, Jarod Kintz says: “New streets should be Twitter friendly and be named with hashtags up front. I’d build a house on #LoversLane.”
CASE IN POINT | Mabatho Events and Promotions
by Samantha Barnes