All Articles Tagged "marketing"
If you’ve ever been the lone black or brown face on a work project, or the only woman on the team, you may know how Julian Kiganda felt. In her 16-year career building her design and marketing expertise, she says, “It has taken me some time to truly embrace all of me.”
“By that, I mean not feeling like I have to downplay parts of who I am in order to make other people more comfortable around me, or to fit into a mold that they feel is acceptable,” she elaborates.
Things clicked for the Uganda-born branding expert, who also teaches dance as part of MBUUTU OF UGANDA, when she started celebrating her East African heritage as a performer. She explains, “I began to understand that culture is actually a strength.” Kiganda founded the multicultural marketing firm Vibrant LLC in 2006 and most recently launched Bold & Fearless, a platform that advances her personal brand.
We asked Kiganda her thoughts on how identity should impact business.
MadameNoire: What’s the difference between your work with Vibrant LLC and that of Bold & Fearless?
Julian Kiganda: Vibrant LLC is a full service Multicultural Marketing Communications firm. For the past eight years, we’ve worked with clients on everything from websites and historical exhibits to marketing campaigns and print collateral. Recently, I realized that although I enjoyed helping my clients solve their marketing and branding problems, I wasn’t: a) doing work that I was passionate about; b) working to my full potential; and, c) fulfilling the vision for my life that would have me excited to wake up every morning.
With Bold & Fearless, I have an opportunity to be my own client and create both products and a platform to communicate about the things that I know can help others reach their potential; as well as doing strategic consulting with clients… I will be doing a lot more writing, speaking and teaching than I currently am with Vibrant, and less of the hands-on design and project implementation. One of the biggest differences will be the opportunity for more interaction with others (as opposed to only one-on-one meetings with clients)—which I love!
MN: With both Vibrant and Bold & Fearless, you bring together your branding talent, African heritage, and your personal philosophies. What’s the advantage in incorporating your background (cultural, spiritual and otherwise) into one’s work?
JK: I think especially now, in an increasingly globalized, diverse, and technologically connected world, cultural competency is mandatory to the survival of your business no matter where you’re located. From a spiritual perspective, I’ve seen a growing desire for people to be connected to something greater than themselves and for their lives to have real meaning. My personal relationship with God has almost always driven the vision that I have for my life and the projects that have come as a result of being clear about that vision. I don’t think that you can truly understand your purpose—personal or professional—without taking the time to know God.
MN: Let’s talk race. Do you think black entrepreneurs have a specific responsibility to help improve the plight of disadvantaged blacks?
JK: Absolutely. This was made even more clear to me several years ago when my firm was selected to design and build the Freedom House Museum [brand and experience] in Alexandria, VA. The Freedom House, formerly known as the Alexandria Slave Pen, was once the most successful domestic slave-trading firm in the United States. In fact, the last owner of the Slave Pen, James Birch, was the same man who sold Solomon Northup into slavery. Unless you study African American history in college, you really don’t learn the reality of what slavery did to the unit of the Black family.
… Although we’ve made incredible strides, it has been made apparent through the many recent stories of blatant racism and the policies that uphold that racism that we still have a lot of work to do. Understanding this, I have an obligation to teach what I know from having had the privilege to learn Black history from a deeper perspective, as well as to show positive images of people of color in the work that I do.
MN: One of your passions is creating deeper connections between Africans and African Americans. How is that connection good for business?
JK: Africa has six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world. There are a number of corporations and countries taking advantage of the continent’s vast resources and endless opportunities, but there is still a noticeable lack of Black-owned businesses that are tapping into those opportunities. The reasons are too many to list, but there’s a reason why folks are flocking to Africa to do business. Although it takes patience, I can name many a business-owner from the U.S. who has reaped the rewards of doing business on the continent. Don’t sleep: Africa is where it’s at.
One of the most powerful concepts in marketing is owning a word in the customer’s mind. It shouldn’t be a complicated word, but rather something simple that already carries a great deal of weight along with it.
For example, when you think of the word “safety,” in regards to driving what do you think of? Volvo owned that word forever.
When you think of “overnight,” in regards to delivery what pops up? FedEx usually, despite some recent holiday fails.
This is what owning a word in the customer’s mind can do for you. To achieve this result you’ll need to narrow your focus to a single word or concept. The most effective words are not only simple but also results-oriented. So it is always better to focus on one word or benefit rather than three or four. Once you have a solid footing with one benefit, customers are likely to associate your product or service with a lot of other benefits. A “safer” car implies better design, quality, and engineering.
In making your choice, remember that your word can be related to positive outcomes (cavity prevention), service-related (home delivery), audience-related (younger people), or sales-related (preferred brand).
Drake — aka Aubrey Graham — was an actor first, as Jimmy Brooks, the TV character disabled after a horrific school shooting. However, Aubrey had ambitions well beyond the hallways of a fictional Degrassi High.
Now past the famous “sophomore slump” period, Drake can manage his career his way. Black and Jewish, of Toronto provenance, with success as a child star on Canadian television… these ingredients normally do not mix to produce a flourishing recording artist. But, let’s face it, we love Drake’s brand of sensitive and we want more!
With his recently released album, Nothing Was The Same, collaborations with equally talented artists such as Jhene Aiko, Jay Z, and Big Sean, and his first hosting and performing debut on Saturday Night Live this past weekend, Drake is at a pivotal stage in his career where he can continue to benefit by expanding beyond his particular brand of “emo rap.” Here’s how:
Get back into acting
If you haven’t seen Drake’s first turn at hosting and performing on Saturday Night Live, you are missing out. Drake reminded us that he was once just Aubrey Graham, a young kid who auditioned while high on marijuana for a children’s television show. Edgy with the ability to show consideration for other’s feelings, Drake could go the way of Kid Cudi and star in a cable television show or take up meetings with buzzed-about independent directors and producers like Justin Simien or Ryan Coogler and audition for roles. After all, he did mention late last year that he’s “dying to get back into acting.” His debut on Saturday Night Live this year proves that the man is ready and able.
Try delving into other art forms
Sure, Drake has been featured in commercials for Sprite and Kodak, showing his business and marketing smarts. But he doesn’t have to simply hawk other products. He could choose to work with innovative leaders within the worlds of theater, photography, or other art forms where he has an interest and shows equal talent.
Open up his collaboration pool
Drake has enough experience and flair to help others in his position, which he is clearly doing by working with R&B soul singer Jhene Aiko. Drake may be inching towards the “Hippie R&B” genre in music, which was christened in 2013. If this is the case, Drake should look into other artists who could only profit from his seal of approval both in business and virtuosity, like FKA Twigs and Toro Y Moi.
As Drake’s popularity continues to increase, he should consider the footprints he could leave behind in the technological universe. Drake can explore the options to smartly invest in a commercial music streaming service or the next big music mobile app.
Lay low during non-traditional times
If he is to “expand the Drake brand,” he should definitely be strategic with his publicist. The public has long become savvy to the tricks of the entertainment game. When a new album or tour is on the horizon, controversy and other stunts suddenly appear in the tabloids. Drake can remain relevant, profound, distinctive, and on the beat of his own drum without being so obvious. Pull a Beyoncé and put out a secret mixtape without any warning. Refrain from getting caught up in romantic drama. He can let the work — and his reputation — speak for itself, and grow all the while.
Drake is a talented performer and he has the power to construct his art in new and original ways. Now that “emo-rap” is a credible music genre with Drake as one of its forefathers, he can take it any way his brand and skills allow. Expanding the “sensitive Drake” brand will require courage, further planning, and teamwork with unlikely partners to create what he could be without abandoning his core trademark.
The internet (and the MadameNoire office) absolutely lost its mind over the news that Beyonce released an entire album — complete with a music video for each of its 14 songs — unexpectedly and without notice.
Her fifth and self-titled album was made available in the middle of the night after months of speculation about when new material would be complete, and months of howling from fans about the long lull between albums. (Her last record, “4,” came out in 2011.) For $16, you can head over to iTunes and quench that Queen Bey thirst now.
While we thought she was just touring and vacationing around the world, Beyonce was actually hard at work — collaborating with hubby Jay Z, Frank Ocean, Drake, even her little one Blue Ivy. Commenting in a video clip that accompanied the release, Bey says:
It’s so much that gets between the music and the art and the fans. I felt like, I don’t want anybody to get the message, when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.
According to Billboard, there were hints that an album would be coming before year’s end, but no definites. At a time when we hear news from around the world within seconds, that one of the most famous women in the world could keep a secret this huge until the album was out there is a huge feat.
But it’s also way different from the way that albums, movies, or even the re-introduction of Twinkies would normally be handled. Let’s take Lady Gaga’s “ArtPop” album or Kanye’s “Yeezus” as examples. These two records were accompanied by global art installations — Kanye projecting the “New Slaves” video on buildings around the world and Lady Gaga partnering with Jeff Koons on the cover art, a Brooklyn art show, and working with Marina Abramovic as a prelude.
Of course, they aren’t the only ones crowing about upcoming releases. Movies get months of promotion, with films like American Hustle getting nominated for huge industry awards like the Golden Globes weeks before moviegoers can even buy a ticket. Film trailers come out a year in advance.
And how much do we hear about the day an album will “drop” before it actually lands?
With no advanced notice, Beyonce is trending on Twitter (along with “Blue Ivy” and #QueenBey”), has media covering the celebrity reactions to the album, and has fans waking up their friends and spending that cash without blinking an eye. It’s basically a pre-Christmas gift. But instead of fans running to their Christmas trees to get their gift, they’re running to the internet to download it.
It says something about the power of silence and surprise. As Bey says, music executives, elaborate marketing campaigns, and the mad scramble for a concert ticket typically make so much noise, whipping people into a frenzy while also keeping them at arm’s length. She simply pushed it out on the web and let people know it was there. Not through some fake “leak,” but a genuine album release. Come one, come all. Have your fill of all of it.
Clearly, Beyonce has an advantage. But, other stars also have a dedicated fan base that would be online within moments for their new material. Sure, it’s not entirely gimmick-free; a “surprise” album is a marketing ploy in and of itself. But it’s a low-key one that doesn’t require a ton of stuff to generate hype. It’s probably also a cost-saver for labels that have seen dwindling album sales eat into their profits. They’re looking for ways to save money, and a lower marketing cost could be a great way to do that.
Going forward, something tells us we’re going to start seeing many more albums come out this way. Don’t be shocked if we’re waking up to new music delivered to us on Instagram and iTunes more frequently in 2014.
With the year soon coming to an end, many advertisers have their eyes set on one of the biggest campaign opportunities of the any year, Super Bowl. Already sold out and going for as much as $4 million a slot, one can only imagine what companies have up their sleeves to get our attention and capture our business.
But until that time comes, it’s kinda fun to think about the commercials that left a lasting impression on us throughout the year. Are there any that come to mind? If so, what was it about the ad that kept you glued to your television? Here is a look back at some of the most memorable commercials of 2013. Of course there were many but these instantly came to mind.
For every business owner knowing where to go to get quality and inexpensive marketing materials is paramount. How would you solidify your brand without the aid of business cards, t-shirts, and other necessary supplies specific to your product or service? When searching for small business marketing tools, and even ideas, it’s important to know where to go and who to trust. Below you’ll find nine places that make it their business to keep you in business.
The latest K-mart commercials that feature grade-school children making quick-witted “Yo Mama” jokes about their classmates’ fashion-forward choices and another with a tween rap crew is causing a raucous. While some find no harm in the ads, others are furious about the commercials’ “racist” undertones, reports Clutch.
“Did yo mama get that hoodie at K-mart?” one grade school kid asks another. “Yeah dawg!”, a young Latino boy replies. “Well yo mama must have cavities because that hoodie is sweet!”
“Well yo mama is so fiscally responsible, she got all that on free layaway!” a witty African-American girl jokes.
“Ohhhhhhh!” the kids in the schoolyard yelled.
“Your commercials are racist and disgusting,” one commenter says in all-caps on the K-Mart Facebook page. “I won’t be shopping here!” Admittedly, K-Mart is attempting to market these commercials to the budget-conscious and/or urban consumer. But I don’t think these slapstick, all-in-good-fun commercials are racially charged.
The joke is that the “Yo Mama” jokes are unexpected compliments, not insults. Yet, a large wave of television viewers are not tickled by the satirical wordplay. One viewer likened the Yo Mama jokesters to street kids or gang members. “They’re babbling and you can’t understand a word they say,” another person complains. “Very very poor example for kids to see.”
A K-Mart representative replied, “This commercial is a playful take on Kmart Layaway. We regret if it wasn’t your style.”
We’ve seen recently the impact that good marketing can have on a company or a brand. Jay Z has a top album on his hands with Magna Carta Holy Grail in large part because of an effective marketing campaign that coupled technology with his famous name and a good (many would say) album. You could make the same argument for “Yeezus.” Kanye prepped us all with videos beamed onto the side of buildings around the world. People start talking. The anticipation builds.
But you don’t have to be a celeb on the level of a Jay or Ye to make marketing work for you. Every brand — even brand “you” — can benefit from an effective marketing campaign.
Say it with me: “I am a brand.” We’re not trying to reduce you to a number or a bar code. We would rather liken yourself to a unique entity. Whether you like it or not, you are a brand, especially as an entrepreneur or anyone who strives to be a leader in their respective field. As you delve into the world of making a product, whatever it may be, you have to start thinking about your message and the legacy that you want to leave in the world. As you define yourself, and essentially your brand, there are 10 things you should think about doing in order to bring more business your way. Here are 10 key ways to strengthen your brand.
By now, you’ve already heard that Jay Z’s groundbreaking deal with Samsung (in which the company purchased one million copies of “Magna Carta Holy Grail” in advance of its release) is poised to revolutionize the music industry – or to at least start the conversation. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has already adopted “new rules” for calculating album sales. And although Billboard declined to include the Samsung downloads in its sales figures, the magazine’s creative editorial director, Bill Werde, admits that they will re-visit the issue: “In the coming weeks, we’ll talk through highly nuanced questions about our album charts…These discussions may well lead to some changes to our charting rules — or they may not.”
While the Samsung deal is undeniably making waves within the industry, some wondered if it would help or hurt MCHG’s consumer sales. Billboard silenced any doubts this week, however, reporting a whopping 527,000 in first week album sales. This means that even without the benefit of the Samsung downloads, and in spite of enumerable leaks as a result of those downloads, MCHG has easily topped the Billboard 200. MCHG is Jay-Z’s first solo number one album in the U.K., and it also set a Spotify record when songs from the album were streamed over 14 million times last week.
To quote the man himself: “Men lie, women lie/numbers don’t.” And in an era where albums sales have suffered a major decline, MCHG is a bona fide smash.
How did Hov do it? Well, many are crediting his innovative marketing techniques. The mini-films released in conjunction with the album’s promotion were inspirational, intimate, and indelible. There was also a Twitter session last week, an unprecedented social media move for Hov, which allowed fans to engage him directly. And his six-hour performance of “Picasso Baby” at Pace Gallery in New York certainly had tongues wagging.
Music fans can tell you why The Beatles’ “Abbey Road,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” or even Jay Z’s “Reasonable Doubt” are such monumental albums, but no one remembers their marketing campaigns. But nowadays, those campaigns contribute to both the exposure and the bottom line sales of an album. USA Today even proposes the marketing of MCHG is actually better than the album.
Billboard, which refuses to count the Samsung downloads in its calculation, estimates “Magna Carta Holy Grail” will…land at the top of their charts.” That proved true; MCHG is Jay Z’s record-breaking 13th number one album. No solo artist has ever had more. Six more and he matches The Beatles. #Factsonly
Ironically, in an interview last week, Jay Z described certain aspects of the Samsung arrangement to be “a loss” for MCHG – specifically, issues with the Samsung app which prevented some fans from successfully downloading the album. “The people that waited and downloaded it you want them to have that experience right away. That was the thing that was disheartening to me,” he said.
Jay Z’s statements were made prior to the news of MCHG’s robust sales figures. Still, there’s something refreshing about a self-proclaimed “business man” who is passionate about the quality of the fan experience and not just the bottom line. Which is part of what marketing is meant to do — speak to the customer and their experience of the product and/or brand while also driving sales. Despite myriad professional achievements, Hov continues to approach his work with the same relentless tenacity that catapulted him from obscurity, to his indisputable status now as a music heavyweight and mogul extraordinaire. From both a business and life perspective, there is a tremendous lesson for all of us in that.
Karen J. Francis is a freelance writer and media attorney living in New York City. Please follow her on Twitter @karebelle.