May 2014. The Ogilvy Graduate Programme calls on a hero, one who dares to build a brand that stands out – one who has what it takes to fulfill their destiny in a top advertising career. A daring marketing student casts aside his campus hoody, taking up his lab coat and almighty stethoscope. A medical doctor? Nay. One man. One mission. Saving brands one blog post at a time. He is – the Brand Dr.
What an exciting adventure indeed! The OGP is an amazing career recruitment opportunity for final year marketing students to join the ranks of the renowned, award-winning advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather South Africa – part of a world leading Marketing Communications Network.
Earlier this year, Lauren Woolf (Ogilvy’s Chief Marketing & Talent Officer) briefed my Marketing Honours class here at UCT on just what they had in store for us. Create a blog based on a unique, passionate idea and you could find yourself a permanent job placement in Ogilvy come 2015. But getting into one of the world’s leading ad agencies would be no walk in the park. With stiff competition from some of SA’s most promising marketing students (hailing from not just UCT, but even UWC, UJ, Wits and the Red & Yellow ad school) I knew I’d have a lot of blood, sweat and tears ahead of me (not necessarily in that order, mind you). But with my sights set on getting into Ogilvy since my early days at varsity, now was not the time to flat-line on my advertising career dream!
A brand that aint bland
Over the years of growing up in my family’s printing press and design house, and from my keen observations as a marketer through my studies, I realised that many people have the wrong idea of marketing, which was reflected in lots of poor branding efforts. Using my experience gained at UCT Radio as student brand manager and designer (and with everything I’d learnt from UCT and through my self-study of brand management) I hijacked my med school brother’s stethoscope and set out to help people remedy their unhealthy branding habits.
And so the Brand Dr. idea came into public practice – bringing together my passion for advertising, brands and connecting with people. My favourite quote from the legendary ad man David Ogilvy is what inspires all my creative work – “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” This blog was no different. Created as a light-hearted approach to brand consulting, the blog would be able to inform readers in an entertaining manner, thus making a serious business topic of branding more easily digestible. Playing on the drawn-out metaphor of branding being very much like one’s long-term health, the doctor persona allowed me to put a warm, friendly face to the brand – a crucial component for a blog that’s going to be dispensing advice on how to do things better. Advice is often hard to swallow, but it’s easier coming from a trusted source with the appropriate credentials. I guess the lab coat didn’t hurt then …
In dispensing my knowledge treatment for building long-term, healthy brands, I split the content into 2 core features.
My Professional Opinions reflected the core blog posts with my thoughts and relevant lessons on special brand topics.
Brands That Make Me Dance allowed me to use yet another terrible pun, but also to showcase examples of great branding that really excited me, giving readers more tangible insights.
Meeting some very interesting patients
Ogilvy deserves a huge thanks because their Ogilvy Graduate Programme has certainly been a brilliant platform to network with some like-minded marketing individuals, open up new doors for an entrepreneurial venture of mine and even connect with and learn from some industry professionals.
Towards the end of 2013, I began working towards my long-term entrepreneurial dream venture called Kaviar Advertising Connoisseurs – taking my burning passion for advertising and eventually starting my own ad agency and design house.
During my time blogging about how to build solid brands this year, a friend of mine at the University of Pretoria was working with her latest project as part of the ENACTUS society – an international organisation for entrepreneurial community projects.
Working in association with the Siyanqoba Feeding Foundation (an NPO providing shelter, food and skills to underprivileged kids, many of whom are either rape or abuse victims) my friend was appointed project leader on the Baking for Tomorrow initiative.
The Foundation needed to radically raise funds to better support the influx of kids and so this project involved establishing the Siyanqoba Bakery with the aim of serving the community more strongly. Their longer term vision was to eventually offer catering services to corporates, allowing them to collect greater support for the children. At the latest ENACTUS meeting in Pretoria, it was agreed that they would need to build a strong brand around the bakery so that it could inspire trust in the market and attract sufficient attention to raise further support for the Foundation. With the social media promotion of my blog establishing me as someone who knew a bit about branding (and with my personal promoting of my part-time design venture, Kaviar) my friend said she knew just the person for this job!
I was called in on the project to develop the brand identity according to the Siyanqoba Foundation’s brief regarding logo design and slogan development. Using my presentation skills, I compiled a detailed proposal exhibiting my ideas for the brand positioning and identity.
I even threw in some mock ads for their website and Social Media channels for them to visualise how the logo will actually be used in their marketing materials.
This was pitched at the next ENACTUS Pretoria meeting where my work impressed, beating the 2 other designers and securing Kaviar’s first real contract! Weeks later, I received feedback that the project was taken to the ENACTUS South Africa Nationals Competition, where I was acknowledged in the official speech – “The University of Pretoria’s ENACTUS Society outsourced Cape Town designer, Kavesan Pillay of Kaviar Advertising, to conduct the branding of the Siyanqoba Bakery”. Through my work on the Brand Dr. blog, I have also been recognised by a few student societies on campus who have asked me to aid in their advertising efforts and I expect this venture to grow even more in the future. Onward and upward for the Kaviar dream!
The Brand Dr. has also been an amazing opportunity to connect with talented design professionals and brand identity experts such as Ian Paget of the Logo Geek company.
I was even more stoked when I finally managed to get in touch with and learn from big names in the marketing world such as Laura Ries (world renowned branding expert and co-author with Al Ries, a pioneering marketing legend) as well as Sally Hogshead
(bestselling author and legendary former advertising executive)!
Hanging up my coat and scope?
No way! After a few months on this project, this blog has opened up new possibilities for me, helped me network with some invaluable connections and most of all, it’s allowed me to learn so much more about the magical world of brands and advertising. Here’s to the Ogilvy Graduate Programme talent team, to Ogilvy SA for bringing us this opportunity, to all those I’ve had the privilege of learning from and meeting along the way and of course to the patients – the readers who made their regular appointments to check out and support the blog. To all of you (and I mean this in the coolest way possible), you are some pretty SICK patients! Thumbs up to all of you, heck! Take TWO! You deserve it!
I certainly aim to keep my practice open because as long as there are people with brands out there that still need saving, there’s still much for me to learn and a long way to continue growing as a branding professional. The Brand Dr.’s job is never done … cos even brands need a regular check-up.