By Roxanne Marais –Part-time student at Vega, a brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE)
I recently completed the Digital Brand Strategy course at Vega, and what surprised me most wasn’t the content that we learned, but rather, how we learned to think about it.
After a brief introduction on perspective and how it drives critical thinking, our relaxed and charismatic lecturer spoke about how we connect to consumers. “Digital solutions are only possible by having real conversations with the people we target,” Christian Zimelka, Academic Navigator at Vega emphasized.
Now I know this sounds simple, but it’s the simple tactics that often elude us. I started wondering when last, I spent time with the people that my campaigns target? I mean real, face to face conversations without an agenda, actively listening to understand.
We have tons on demographic stats and audience profiles to rely on to create the theory of our campaigns, but without spending time with the people that a business really wants to talk to, we can’t unlock the consumer insights that truly drive effective campaigns. Alex Sudhiem, Senior Academic Navigator for Copy writing at Vega believes that a generation gap can constitute as little as three years, given the exponential rate of cultural evolution in a digitally-driven and virtually interwoven world – which means it’s more important than ever to speak to people.
Critical thinking = observation + extraction
I’ve since seen the difference in approach to campaigns. When we pivot campaigns around a consumer insight, the campaign grows organically, pulling consumers in through relatability, and we reach the right people. Knowing how to reach the right people is becoming a very sought-after skillset, and so Vega isn’t future proofing careers with acquired knowledge, but rather doing so by teaching a way of thinking and doing with purpose.
Another lesson that was beautifully unpacked was that of creativity. Most of us were taught when we were growing up that you are either creative, or you are not. How ironic is it that creativity can only be classed into the haves and the have nots! Is it not rather a sliding scale of degrees to which we are all capable of creative thought?
Creativity = unexpected + relevance
Creativity is being able to extract a relevant consumer insight and then package it in an unexpected manner – a familiar surprise if you will. Creativity can be honed, because the original ideas are waiting inside the communities of people our campaigns want to engage with – we must speak to them.
Learning amongst a sea of like-minded peers, who are also moms, dads, executives and entrepreneurs allowed us to collectively interrogate information in a mature way that elicits confidence and further learning. I didn’t expect to learn so much from the class discussions I had loathed in previous courses.
Our lecturers were active professionals from the field, real people with tangible examples that make sense. The expectation at Vega is also different. It skips the cookie-cutter impressions and opts for a fluid approach. Portfolios are based on real brands, in real-time, and tailored however we see fit.
If you invest some time and money in a short course this year, let it be at Vega – you will walk away with more skills than the expected. You’ll also leave with a network of industry peers and the ability to relate differently to the people you meet and speak to.