Branding Lessons From Around Africa – By Ifemidayo Odekunle [@IFM4Real]
Digital marketers have much to learn from the rapid and fundamental shifts in power. Consider these four takeaways:
Recent events in Africa have demonstrated the power of mass movements and the emergence of new media tools in the digital age. Now more than ever, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram can bring people together with astounding consequences.
Beyond the headlines, digital marketers have much to learn from the rapid and fundamental shifts in power in Africa, especially in regard to branding. From the creative and strategic branding perspective, here are a few takeaways.
Create a Movement
All social movements have their origins in real, tangible needs, such as freedom from autocratic leaders, security advocation, true opportunity to provide a better future for children, and the ability to freely express opinions without going to jail. As marketers, we share a similar yet less political goal of creating movements centred on brands.
However, too often we see examples of brands that try to create social movements solely by talking about themselves. Some use social media as a billboard to slap messages on. But this is a flawed strategy. Technology’s importance resides in its effectiveness in addressing needs. It’s really about connecting, about focusing on consumers’ interests, passions, and concerns and creating conversations that become movements that create real value for consumers and brands.
Use Social Media to Establish Relationships
Social media is an extremely powerful tool, which is why the Nigerian government cut across all social media platforms when it realized the impact it was having. Brands seeking to leverage these platforms can look to the protesters and movements in Nigeria, who successfully used social media to quickly communicate their thoughts to large audiences, share ideas and opinions, and most importantly, galvanize their supporters to action. This dynamic conversation spoke to the power of relationships, not messaging.
By communicating clearly and directly, and providing unexpectedly fresh stories and experiences, brands can engage and establish strong bonds with their customers. Until that happens, no one really cares what you say.
Never Underestimate the Power of Youth
I have learned that Nigerian youth are every bit as digitally savvy as their counterparts in the United States. Almost 65 percent of the population is under of the age of 40, and they are using new media tools to connect and be heard, in more ways than one.
In the United States, marketers are keenly aware that the Internet is a uniting factor for younger people. But brands must understand that in the online world everything moves very rapidly, and it’s very difficult to remain hip and cool for very long. The best digital campaigns are those that can recognize changing situations and adapt quickly to what’s happening in the market. Companies must be willing to take advantage of new online opportunities as they arise, and not be afraid to fail.
To be continued next week
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