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, including Cooper Veterinary Products in Southern Africa.
But in 2018, Afrivet needed to adopt a different approach: to transform from a house of brands to a branded house. The Coopers product range, and its 150-year-old brand name, was leaving the Afrivet stable, having historically made up 33% of Afrivet’s total sales, and Afrivet could no longer distribute the branded products that had become familiar to its clients.
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.
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.
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.
- 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. The Afrivet team implemented most of the events while DevCom focused on providing support and specific content pieces.
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. This was achieved via the use of digital channels, training workshops with Key Account Managers to promote better message coordination, and product toolkits for agents representing Afrivet.