Shiny new brand positioning via communication strategy.
How do you position a thought leader in primary animal healthcare? Through an integrated marketing and communication strategy. At least, that’s how DevCom helped Afrivet to position itself as a thought leader in primary animal healthcare.
Over the years Afrivet had built an established reputation in the marketplace by managing a wide variety of brands.
But in 2018, Afrivet needed to adopt a different approach: to transform from a house of brands to a branded house. A 150-year old brand name was leading the Afrivet stable.
The team had to finalise research and development, and approval of new products; launch the products under its own (non-product) brand; and communicate extensively with external and internal audiences – all within 16 weeks.
To build on Afrivet’s reputation, while promoting its new brand and products, DevCom followed a systems theory approach to implementing an integrated communication and marketing strategy. The strategy aimed to increase recognition of Afrivet’s newly branded products and going further, to inspire hands, hearts and minds to promote internal brand ambassadorship.
DevCom began the process with qualitative research conducted through focus groups with Afrivet management and agents, as well as client interviews and a review of existing communication material and channels.
The new Afrivet brand would support delivering a more consistent customer experience, but the transformation would be challenging. Paramount was the requirement to assure all stakeholders that the new brand identity would not affect product and service quality.
Initial client relationship management was challenging. Due to the time pressures, and the tremendous scope of the change, we went through the relationship stages of forming, storming, norming and performing very quickly.
We worked to punishing deadlines to develop collateral. Our trusted network of developers, copywriters and media partners assisted greatly.
Translations were a challenge and added cost, complexity and delays. We did, however, decide that it was important enough for the audience that we had to make the investment, and developed a protocol for knowing when to use which language.
DevCom developed a channel strategy and identified the messages that need to be placed in different channels. Our research showed that WhatsApp groups were a major communication channel, so we developed visuals that could be forwarded with all key messages. The cooperatives gave Afrivet access to their in-store screens, a channel for which we developed video (with and without audio) on the brand, the products and technical skills. Most coops still play the videos in their stores.
We also developed point-of-sale and business-to-business collateral, including a corporate profile and video. We built a media database and arranged media training for all Afrivet’s spokespeople. Farmers’ days, the CEO roadshow, launch events, and agricultural shows and exhibitions were all mapped on one media channel schedule and discussed at the weekly marketing communication meeting.
We introduced short weekly visual communication messages, an internal and external newsletter, and a revamped website. The channels were all aligned with the research findings and audience preferences.
DevCom increased recognition of the relationship between Afrivet’s brand promise and its newly branded product by crafting a compelling brand promise that reaffirmed the integrity and quality of Afrivet products.
In communicating this promise, there was a decrease in uncertainty because customers were able to relate their expectations to any product with an Afrivet logo.
Not only did Afrivet’s successfully implemented brand positioning and communication strategy enable it to reach high levels of product awareness in the market and gain high publicity, it was also able to:
- Build strong brand recognition with internal and external stakeholders,
- Establish a culture of two-way dialogue with internal and external stakeholders,
- Achieve high levels of employee engagement, and
- Ensure that stakeholders were well-informed and engaged.
By implementing a media plan over a period of seven months, DevCom generated Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) for Afrivet that was five times greater than its contract value.
An integrated communication strategy, co-developed and implemented by DevCom and Afrivet, resulted in a positive brand reputation, the successful replacement of 90% of the previous product range in one year, and stable turnover during a year of significant change.
More recently, Marketing Surveys and Statistical Analysis (MSSA) conducted a baseline (2019) and re-audit (2020) study, to determine commercial farmers’ brand preference for animal health products. The research question was simple, “Who do you buy animal health products from?”. In 2019, Afrivet was farmers’ third choice and in 2020, Afrivet was farmers’ second choice.