From the foundations of your brand to doing things that really matter – Ferdi Rohrbeck talks brands, business and gaining the competitive advantage
From the Lowveld to Johannesburg then Dubai and now Cape Town. And the world is next. Design Infestation business development manager Ferdi Rohrbeck’s shares his insights on brands and marketing from around the world.
MEET FERDI ROHRBECK
Born and raised in a small Mpumalanga town called White River, right near the Kruger National Park, Ferdi enjoyed a lot of small-town-brand freedom and time growing up. Time he used well to learn and play with friends – developing valuable communication skills in the process. And excelling at both individual and team sports.
Ferdi distinguished himself early on in tennis, cricket and particularly golf – a passion that stayed with him all these years. And it’s this passion that helped him find his true calling in new business development, strategy and sales in the marketing and specialist design arena.
See, Ferdi is actually fully qualified in design and marketing himself. In fact, it was only after graduating in product and industrial design at university that he got the opportunity to explore the sales and management side of things through working with a popular SA golf brand and then as the founder of his first product design and manufacturing agency.
And he excelled at it. Building a vast network and helping drive clients’ advertising and marketing initiatives to new heights. Ferdi’s well-known and experienced both locally and internationally, having built and grown various businesses in SA, and the UAE as well as fostering relationships in the UK and US.
So he was kind of a natural choice for new business development at Design Infestation.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AT DESIGN INFESTATION
Since 2019, Ferdi has helped forge the vital connections between clients, creatives and executive that allows Design Infestation to excel in delivering solutions. Having both the communication experience and creative savvy really helps in being able to manage everything that goes into making awesome creative that does what the client needs.
Known for being always positive and driving to get things done, he’s one of the people most clients will likely get to know first. But he’s also extremely fond of the team: “I was able to join a team of strategic creatives that are very good at what they do. Who have sound business ethics and are pragmatic in completing projects and delivering for clients. And I’m super happy about that – not to mention excited about growing our reach for our international clientele,” he says.
Currently living in the Overberg with his wife and two beautiful children, Ferdi shares his valuable knowledge in brand, design, content and marketing, uniquely from both the creative and client perspective:
FERDI ROHRBECK ON BRANDS AND BRAND BUILDING
What is a brand really, and why is it important?
The brand is the key visual language that companies use to present themselves to the world. I would define the ideal brand as talking to the thing your mind visualises when looking for a solution to a need or physical requirement in life.
And it’s vital for two interconnected reasons. First, if companies/brands want to compete and prosper in a competitive world, having a brand that is believable and consistent is key. Secondly, building a loved brand will also support and inspire staff and contributors to align their daily activities and actions to deliver upon a well-built brand’s delivery to their clientele.
Who should invest in defining and building their brand?
I don’t see how brands/companies could be taken seriously in today’s connected and amplified world without a decent brand strategy. And you need all the associated brand collateral executed really professionally. So the help of an expert and external consultant should be a top priority.
So, what is a brand strategy?
It’s the planning and narrative that makes up the foundation of your branding and brand design decisions. It will also guide your marketing investment and associated spend. So, if you don’t start with a brand strategy, you also can’t have a proper marketing strategy. You won’t have a metrix or ROI to measure against. So, before doing anything else, invest and build a brand strategy first. Then stick to it, and evolve it.
How do you develop a brand strategy?
We start with a process of collecting info and data on the business from the executive. Sometimes this comes from the marketing executive, but it’s often the CEO or MD, because they have the broadest view of what’s going on in the business.
Once we understand their key objectives and some of their past learnings and experiences, we start collating this info into a brand matrix tool. This gives us our core strategic objectives. And the matrix forms the base for the next round of research into the market, competitors, future trends analysis and technologies.
Are there any recent examples of your brand work you really liked?
We’re all about doing what works, so it’s the ones that had the biggest impact for the client, I think. In terms of strategic complexity, our work on launching 361 Degrees in various world markets is a great example. And for the sheer number of channels and volume, have a look at what we’ve done for Indonesian fashion retailer Matahari.
ON DESIGN AND BRANDS
Now, what is brand design, and who needs it?
It’s bringing together the persona of an entity, business or product. Creating a singular communication style, brand mark (logo) and all the visual elements to correctly position the brand service so that it’ll meet the strategic needs. It’s making sure that the everything you see of the brand aligns with the audience and what the brand needs to convey to be competitive.
I would say every company operating in the public realm needs brand-led design. From your local greengrocer to a brand like Nike and Coca Cola. Everyone can benefit from the professional services of a brand agency.
So, you’re saying design is part of your strategy
Yes, it serves the strategy or flows from it. Audiences are more sophisticated than ever. And the channels and their sensitivity to brand messaging are very diverse. So the only way to be impactful is to ensure you act strategically, using design that takes the current factors into account but designs with the desired future state in mind.
What’s the process when you’re developing strategic design for a client?
You start with the desired end-state (dream) in mind, and then throw all the previous thinking out the door and start fresh from there. That’s when your design really serves your strategy.
Do you need an agency for it?
Yes. A brand agency should be a strategic advisor and partner. If you think about what most impacts your clientele in the public realm, from the visuals to the experience, all those things are what a brand agency can help you tackle effectively at the start of the process. That way you’re sure that any and all business decisions are made with the end goal in mind: To create lasting impressions. And often you need an objective specialist’s view on things. Even the executive team can use advice on how to visually communicate business updates, changes and new products.
ON CONTENT MARKETING TODAY
And how is content marketing similar or different to what we’re used to?
Content marketing focuses on the audience/reader’s needs and interests first. You see what the target consumer wants and needs, and then tailor all your communication and awareness around that. Where, traditionally, advertising and product marketing is transient and “aimed at everyone”, content marketing lets you refine your focus, target and personalise. Which can be simpler and drive more engagement.
How do you start a content marketing campaign?
Go to the heart of the consumer’s real needs, their fears, their desires. Find points of connection to your product or service. Then produce real content that’s informative and adds real value to people’s experiences.
What channels and mediums are you looking forward to exploring more in the future?
Online and paid advertising that provide deeper and more considered storytelling. Video and Instagram and, actually, also Linkedin. I am sure that YouTube channels will also become more key in the near future.
How do you stand out in the digital space?
Understand your audience. Because of the sheer volume of advertisements and offers communicated daily by global businesses, consumers and audiences narrow their attention span to channels and mediums that are relevant and accessible to them.
So if you want to break through to a specific audience, you have to understand where their focus and attention lies.
Anything recent you really loved working on?
All our 361 Degrees sportswear campaigns are striking. And the work we did with a minimal budget for the CCID’s show you care campaigns are really impactful and meaningful. You can see both of them in our recent social media success stories.
Last one: Is print dead?
Definitely not. The audience and their state of mind is very different from digital users. And, for certain brands, digital platforms just cannot deliver the brand and focus they receive in relevant print platforms.
If you think of high-end and high-value products, your audience likely still wants the feel and presence of a quality print product, in my opinion.
Account Manager & Business Development at Design Infestation
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