The Strategy Department


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We are a diverse, eclectic team, but we all belong to ‘Generation Why?’ We like to ask the difficult questions and challenge the status quo. We believe in a culture of sharing and invite you to peruse our opinion and thought pieces.

Articles and Opinion Pieces

Branding in a Digital World: A Strong Identity Matters

Branding in a Digital World Why Having a Strong Identity MattersWith the various events and happenings that have played a part in shaping the year’s socio-political landscape (both internationally and locally), 2016 is widely being dubbed a ‘Year of Identity’, which is why branding in a digital world and a strong identity Matters. This designation is certainly applicable to the branding and marketing realm as ... Read more

The Importance of Brand Internalisation

The Importance of Brand InternalisationSadly, for many organisations, marketing is not evident from the inside out; the brand strategy is not internalised and employees are not adequately empowered or educated as to how important a role they actually play in the business. This is where the importance of brand internalisation comes in. The fact is that your employees are ... Read more

Boardroom Dancing: 5 Lessons Strategists Can Learn from Dance

Boardroom Dancing 5 Lessons Strategists Can Learn from the Dance WorldAs a strategist and ballroom dancer, I have had the unique and fortunate experience of living a life that (quite literally) straddles two worlds. Two ostensibly different worlds. Yet two worlds that, surprisingly, share a great deal in common with each other. Hence this article on Boardroom Dancing: 5 Lessons Strategists Can Learn from the ... Read more

Agility is Shaping Brands of the Future

Agility is Shaping Brands of the FutureIn the past, the clear-cut laws of supply and demand essentially guided marketing activity for most brands. However, in today’s complex marketplace, there is an additional layer to take into consideration and that is the role of customer and brand experience. Successful brands of the future will be those that understand the importance of designing communications ... Read more

Your Buyers Don’t Belong to You

Your customers dont belong to youIn the perennial quest to build strong brands marketers have traditionally sought to move would-be customers from first awareness through to purchase, on to loyalty and then post purchase evangelism. Some argue that the ‘funnel’ is outdated and prefer to talk of the ‘consumer decision journey’ but both arrive at the same end point: Brand ... Read more

Smart Shopper Card – Junk Status?

Smart Shopper Card – Junk StatusI have long been an advocate of Pick n Pay, admiring and talking up how much they do to both attract and retain customers with their Smart Shopper loyalty program and their various promotions to create sticky customers. That was until I was killing time in a reception and picked up a newspaper only to ... Read more

It’s Out of Your Hands

It’s out of your handsIn the pre-digital world, a brand’s reputation management, public relations, publicity and social content were controllable by the brands. It was relatively simple:  we could say what we felt was the truth, tell customers about the good stuff, and manage their expectations. However, with the ever-increasing power shift to the customers, we find more and ... Read more

Are You Getting the Full Package?

Are you getting the full packageIn the past decade sponsorship has morphed from a passive, often philanthropic form of marketing into a key strategic brand building initiative that now enjoys a respectable share of marketing budgets worldwide. This accelerated growth has, however, brought increased attention and scrutiny to the value of many sponsorship properties. Pause to consider who sponsors our national ... Read more

You Are What You Do, Not Only What You Say

You are what you do, not only what you sayWhat is the purpose of Corporate Social Investment in this evolving world? Why are businesses spending their hard-earned profit on something that doesn’t generate revenue? Beyond saying they have to, perhaps it’s because brands are understanding that in the world of inter-connectedness and transparency, it really isn’t just what you say anymore, but what you ... Read more

Digital: Another Channel or Another Animal?

Digital: Another channel or another animal?The digital revolution has left an indisputable mark on the world of branding. Suddenly, we have an abundance of digital agencies, digital strategists, digital designers and an entire digital lingo, such that one could be forgiven for thinking of digital as an entirely different animal. Or is it merely another channel or tool for building ... Read more

Avoiding the One-Hit-Wonder Syndrome

Avoiding the one-hit-wonder syndromeIs innovation in your brand or business just a ‘one-hit-wonder’ (OHW), a lucky coincidence or single stroke of genius that fails to replicate?Is your internal idea engine churning up countless ideas with little or no strategic relevance? If you are like the majority of business leaders and executives around the globe, you are probably frustrated ... Read more

Brands in the New Age

Brands in the new ageIn today’s day and age, is it not time to start asking whether we should re-look the concept of brand? For one simple reason, if the world around us is changing so rapidly, is the traditional approach to brands and branding always appropriate? ‘Always’ being the key word. We are not suggesting throwing the baby ... Read more

Is Creativity a Means to an End – Or an End in Itself?

Is creativity ameans to an end – Or an end in itselfBrand building, advertising and creativity are inseparable since marketers have recognised the importance of engaging the mind, heart and senses. There is no refuting creativity’s value to our industry. Great creative has the power to be noticed, to be remembered and – in our highly connected world – to be shared. It even has the ... Read more

Do You Have the Complete Picture?

Do you have the complete pictureThe concept of marketing effectiveness first came to prominence in the late 1990s, and in 2006 the book “What Sticks” (Briggs and Stuart) was named the number one book in marketing by Advertising Age. Most brand builders are constantly looking for a better return on their investment, yet many fail to start with the complete ... Read more

Beyond Just the Face

Beyond Just the FaceIdentical twins grow up in the same home; one twin grows up to be a successful man with a family of his own, while the other becomes a serial killer who never moves out of his parents’ basement. Moral of the story: People may look identical and have the same background, but it does not ... Read more

Are Your Employees A Part of Your Brand?

Are Your Employees A Part of Your Brand?Your greatest brand assets leave your offices everyday, and carry your brand with them.  So the question needs to be asked whether or not you have taken the time to make sure your people align with (and can live) your brand? Focus is so often placed on getting the brand right ‘out there’, making the right ... Read more

Brand Architecture

Brand ArchitectureHouse of Brands, Branded House… the scenarios of Brand Architecture models bandied around during executive workshops are endless and often confusing. At the same time, they are a rare opportunity to lay flat the brand systems of an organisation and re-invent the way customers can navigate the range of products and services. This provides the opportunity ... Read more

Business as a Brand Driver

business-as-a-brand-driverThe importance of a business’brand is changing. No longer can brand be something that concerns only the marketing department but rather, for businesses that are truly successful, the brand is a part of their strategy, direction and future. They truly use the brands to bring the business to life. Brand must take its lead from business.  ... Read more

CSI – Giving Back? Do It Right.

csi-giving-back-do-it-rightThe importance of formulating business-aligned CSI initiatives Corporate Social Investment initiatives (CSI) are projects that businesses undertake to benefit over and above the business and its normal activities.Although CSI initiatives are external to a business’ normal activities, for them to have an optimal effect, they need to align to the business’ vision, purpose and promise. According to ... Read more

Meet Our Strategist: Didy Andersson

Meet-Our-Strategist-Didy-Andersson-800We love sharing info about our Strategists and here’s the inside scoop from our chat with Didy Andersson. What did you do before becoming a Communications Strategist at The Strategy Department? I’ve worked across a spectrum of advertising, marketing and brand disciplines throughout my 20 year career.   I started out in TV and Radio Production following ... Read more

From Camel Man to Desperate Housewife?

From Camel Man to Desperate HousewifeAs a “Land Rover Enthusiast” I recently got an invite to something about the reveal of the new Range Rover Evoque Convertible. Whilst I felt most flattered, they clearly don’t know me very well because I am not in the league of Range Rover prices – but the efficiencies of direct marketing is another topic ... Read more

Sports and Sponsorship

Sports and SponsorshipWe are not yet finished with Rio 2016, but who could not be in awe of what went down in the early hours of our Monday morning. Van Niekerk was absolutely brilliant how he went about writing his name into sporting history. As the commentators said, “That was probably not the race of the games,” ... Read more

Better and Better at Keeping Customers

Better and Better at Keeping CustomersIs Pick n Pay getting better and better at keeping customers or not? Late last year I was full of praise for what Pick n Pay were doing to both attract and retain customers with their Smart Shopper loyalty program and their Stickeez promotion which had kids busy nagging and collecting in a way we ... Read more

Generation Z: The New Generation Consumer

Generation-Z-The-New-Generation-ConsumerMarketers have often made use of generations as a demographic and psychographic delineator for specifying and describing their target markets. But what exactly is a generation? And why is this understanding useful to marketers? Human generations can be defined as groups of human beings that are born within a certain period and thus experience the ... Read more

Shifts in Strategy for 2016 and Beyond (Part Two)

Shifts-in-Strategy-for-2016-and-Beyond-3As organisations grow more decentralised in nature, planning will no longer happen in isolation and our strategies will need to become ever more adaptable and geared towards the present and immediate future. Constant reorientation will be key in this regard. In Part One of my article Shifts in Strategy for 2016, the focus was on ... Read more

Shifts in Strategy for 2016 and Beyond (Part One)

Shifts-in-Strategy-for-2016-and-Beyond-Part-One-1It is truly an age-old industry dispute: the value of strategy and planning versus the value of implementation and creativity. In spite of the various arguments put forth by both camps in the past, contemporary opinion within the industry is pointing to the fact that both of these areas have a critical role to play ... Read more

Big Brand Promises Need to Deliver

Big-Brand-Promises-Need-to-Deliver-2Telkom, the brand most South African’s love to hate has made a huge advertising move to try re-position themselves with their new BoltSpeed Fibre.  Claiming the fastest fibre speed in the country, and partnering with the fastest man in the world, their promises are big, but can they deliver? With a historical legacy of being ... Read more

LGBT Marketing Expert Mike Dos Santos speaks to Jeremy Maggs on PowerFM

Our Strategist, Mike Dos Santos, is emerging as one of South Africa’s top Thought Leaders on the subject of LGBT Marketing, a subject that’s needed to be addressed for many years. In this clip Mike speaks to media authority Jeremy Maggs (Maggs on Media) about what NOT to do when marketing to gay, lesbian bisexual ... Read more

Are LSM’s Killing Our Thinking?

Are-LSM’s-Killing-Our-Thinking-3In this article, Partner and Strategist at The Strategy Department, Lara Cassel, looks at how the focus on LSMs may be killing our marketing thinking. In the marketing industry we mainly rely on the LSM measurement. From our target market definitions, to our market potential, all the way to our media placement, but is this the ... Read more

For the Love of the Brand: The Strategy Department

For-the-Love-of-the-Brand-The-Strategy-DepartmentLove is possibly the most elusive word to people. It’s one that has been the script of poets, authors and musicians alike. Something we all chase, that we all desire. Even businesses are chasing love. The love of their new and existing clients. Why? To make them keep coming back. For the Love of the Brand. ... Read more

Marketing to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Consumers Part 1

Marketing to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender LGBT Consumers 10In part one of our Marketing to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Consumers we look at the marketing blunder of Exclusion when brands are in pursuit of the “Pink Rand”.  As societal acceptance and support of the rights of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people continue to accelerate worldwide, we are also seeing an ... Read more

Marketing to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Consumers Part 2

Marketing to  LGBT ConsumersMarketing blunder #2: Inauthenticity The flipside to the previous blunder lies in being inclusive of LGBT consumers, but coming across as inauthentic in execution. In recent years, countless brands worldwide have attempted to jump on the “LGBT bandwagon”, often with the express intention of being perceived as progressive or socially relevant as a means of capturing ... Read more

Meet Our Strategist: Richard Prevost

Partner and Strategist, Richard Provost, brings his unique set of skills to The Strategy Department every day. A humble strategic force to be reckoned with, innovator of transformation and father of three who loves date nights with his wife… What skills does someone need to be a Strategist? Solid foundation of general knowledge (call me old fashioned ... Read more

5 Skills You Need To Be a Strategist

5 Skills you need to be a strategistWe keep a low profile at The Strategy Department, preferring to help our clients shine. But there are some trade secrets we can share.Here are some insights from our team about what unexpected skills it takes to be a strategist. People in the industry often view the strategist and the creative as different animals. However, ... Read more

The Power of a Master Brand

The Power of a Master BrandBrand architecture is the art of linking your brands. It’s the equivalent of a person’s surname. If you have a surname like Oppenheimer for example, it is a name that is synonymous with success and wealth. This name opens doors and on first impression, you know the type of person you are dealing with.  With ... Read more

Meet Our Strategist: Michael dos Santos

Mike dos SantosMeet Our Strategist: Michael dos Santos. Mike makes magic with words and strategy, not surprising then that he has a B.A. in Marketing Communication and Honours Degree (Cum Laude). Here’s more from him about the world of advertising, marketing, strategy and living life without fear and loving without limits… What unexpected skills does someone need to be a Strategist? People ... Read more

The Seven R’s of Marketing to the Youth in South Africa

The 7 Rs of Marketing to the YouthWhy The Seven R’s of Marketing to the Youth in South Africa? Not only are young South Africans becoming more aware of current and important news stories and issues facing their world, but there is also a heightened sense of awareness of those less fortunate than themselves.  Aligned to the trend of “truth hunting”, the youth are ... Read more

Meet Our Strategist: Clive Evans

Meet our strategist Clive EvansMeet Our Strategist: Clive Evans Clive Evans, Partner at The Strategy department has a Bachelor of Social Science – majoring in Economics and Marketing. But in his own words, “My real life qualifications come from some 25 years in the world of brand building, including 10 years with AC Nielsen and 12 years with BBDO.” More about Clive ... Read more

Meet Our Strategist: Nonkululeko Mabena

Meet Our Strategist Nonkululeko Mabena 1Meet our Strategist: Nonkululeko Mabena. She has a BA in Marketing Communications Graduate and a PPD in Marketing Strategy from GIBS and she’s also the youngest Strategist at The Strategy Department. As a Strategist, NonkuIuleko starts with research, uncovering insights about people, categories and brands. She then takes this analysis further by developing engaging strategies ... Read more

Creating Stikeez Customers

Creating Stikeez CustomersThe ambition of most marketers is surely to both attract and retain customers. We live in an ever changing, increasingly complex world where consumers have more choice than ever before, while their attention spans have dipped to an all time low; hence as marketers we now have to take a more customer-centric approach to keep ... Read more

Marketing to the Youth in South Africa: Changing the Rules of Engagement

Marketing to the Youth in South Africa: Changing the Rules of EngagementIn terms of segment size and buying power,  the “Youth Market” are of great significance to marketers, with roughly half of South Africa’s population being under the age of 24 and the most recent annual spend for consumers aged 8-23 being estimated at around R111 billion. Against this backdrop, it is therefore hardly surprising that ... Read more

Nonkululeko Mabena from The Strategy Department

Meet Our Strategist: Nonkululeko MabenaThis is an audio interview with Nonkululeko Mabena; a strategist at The Strategy Department. She researches and uncovers insights about people, categories and brands, and then develops amazing strategies to launch or grow businesses. But more than that, she never takes ‘no’ for an answer. Blazing a creative trail in the industry at a young ... Read more

The 4 P’s: Product, Price, Place and Promotion

The 4 P's: Product, Price, Place and PromotionTo P or not P & How Many P’s Should There Be? It is amazing to think that the term ‘marketing mix’ was first coined way back in 1953; amazing because even today most people in marketing can still rattle off the original 4P’s: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Much has changed in the last 60 ... Read more

Marketing to the Modern Family: Getting Real About Their Realities

Marketing to the Modern Family: Getting Real About Their RealitiesMarketing to the Modern Family: Getting Real About Their Realities As societies worldwide continue to evolve and adapt to changing norms, circumstances and values, the traditional family landscape is shifting at a pace never seen before in history. In line with this shift, savvy marketers are growing increasingly cognisant of the impact of new family dynamics ... Read more

Brand Building Buzzwords: The Strategy Department with Maggs on Media

Brand Building Buzzwords: The Strategy Department with Maggs on MediaPartner at The Strategy Department, Clive Evans, chats to Jeremy Maggs on Maggs on Media about Brand Building Buzzwords.  It has been said that the marketing industry could not operate without buzzwords; that they are the literary shortcuts that drive out good ideas. Think of words like “Impactful”, “Synergy”, “Disruption”, “Ideation”, and phrases such as ... Read more

How Do You Differentiate Your Brand

How Do You Differentiate Your BrandHow Do You Differentiate Your Brand One of the biggest struggles brands and businesses face today is how they are able to differentiate themselves is a world of commoditization and sameness. There are four basic areas to explore that will help you find your point of differentiation (by no means exhaustive). Are You Better, More or Different The ... Read more

Empowering Strategic Thinking

Empowering Strategic ThinkingEmpowering Strategic Thinking At ‘The Strategy Department’ we are cognisant of the argument that ‘Strategic Thinking’ is not the same as ‘Strategic Planning’ but we do believe that intuitive ‘Thinking’ is necessary to fuel ‘Planning.’ The Importance of Up-Skilling At the same time we are also cognisant of the importance of up-skilling people within the marketing industry on ... Read more

Golden Nuggets are Great Consumer Insights

Golden Nuggets are Great Consumer InsightsWhat to do with a Golden Nugget? Golden nuggets are great consumer insights, real insights that often lead to great campaign ideas. And it’s not that such insights are all that rare, but are rather overlooked. This is not to say that it is easy to identify this type of gem in research, but that depends ... Read more

Brand Building Buzzwords

Brand Building Buzzwords Building Brand Buzzwords It has been said that the marketing industry could not operate without buzzwords; that they are the literary shortcuts that drive out good ideas. Think of words like “Impactful”, “Synergy”, “Disruption”, “Ideation”, and phrases such as “Think out side the box”. We have all used them, and if we can’t or won’t admit ... Read more

Branding in the Sharing Economy – Collaboration or Alienation

Branding in the Sharing Economy - Collaboration or AlienationIn this article Mike dos Santos from The Strategy Department discusses Branding in the Sharing Economy – Collaboration or Alienation and asks how this way of interacting will affect the way we co-create. Who are Brand Custodians? Within the context of the contemporary marketplace, traditional notions of ownership are rapidly changing. On the one hand, today’s consumers (and especially the ... Read more

The Foundations of Strategic Brand Building

The Foundations of Strategic Brand BuildingThe Foundations of Strategic Brand Building are Vitally Important As marketers we are builders. We build products and services, we build companies and industries; we build brands. The care we take with building our foundations has a direct result in the success of the strategy that we build for our brand. As with everything in life, what ... Read more

Consumer Understanding – The Strategy Department

Consumer Understanding - The Strategy Department If a brand isn’t connecting on an emotional level with its consumer,  it does not have consumer understanding and it’s strategy is failing.  With any venture, any project, product or service that is taken to market a key element is always consumer understanding. So, who we are talking to? Many a times the answer can ... Read more

Market Understanding and Strategy

Market Understanding and Strategy In this article we look at how market understanding and strategy can change our approach to defining our target audiences.  The approach to marketing communications has in recent years changed from simply ‘managing belief’ and ‘telling people’ to a more inclusive approach of ‘managing behaviour’ and creating ‘brand experiences’. More and more, brand custodians are realising ... Read more

Change in Marketing Technology Trends – The Strategy Department

Market and technologyChange in Marketing Technology Trends: The Strategy Department As technological change accelerates, marketing trends scramble to keep up, as do the ways we look at the analysis of change in marketing technology trends. We are living in exponential times of technological change, driven largely by the combined impacts of the ever-increasing power and ever-decreasing ... Read more

In-House Outsourcing – The Strategy Department

In-House Outsourcing - The Strategy Department In-House Outsourcing – The Strategy Department This might be a little bit of a mouthful, so what does it really mean? Imagine having an expert in his/her field as part of your team, but only when you need them. In-House brands have become the fastest growing FMCG phenomenon in the retail environment. Think of Spar House ... Read more

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