It is estimated that more than 29 million South Africans are active mobile phone users, while a whopping 38 million make use of WhatsApp on a daily basis. Online activity is on the rise, and during the recent coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown, this has increased even more.
The current status quo has changed our landscape forever, and companies, especially entrepreneurs, have had to rethink the way they do business. Some have even had to entirely transform their marketing in a way that appeals to this growing online and mobile consumer audience.
Entrepreneur Jonathan Yarwood spotted a gap in this growing market and his new venture, Brandmoji, could not have come at a more opportune time. But where does the name come from and what does it mean?
“The name came from the marrying of two words – brand and emoji – as it speaks to exactly what the product is, a branded emoji. In the evolution of language, emojis form an integral part of the way we express ourselves today,” he says. “So we believe the next exciting step in the evolution of our modern language is the Brandmoji. The word can be abbreviated to Bmoji,” he adds.
Yarwood had been in the traditional corporate environment for most of his life until he stumbled across a need that no one else seemed to be paying attention to. He saw an untapped market that would connect brands with their biggest fans – and he filled that gap with Brandmoji.
The Brandmoji app, essentially a custom keyboard, can be downloaded and used in everyday conversations. It is free, compatible with both IOS and Android and can be used across all social media and instant messaging platforms. Yarwood says a large number of Brandmoji fans are using the keyboard to include their favourite brands in their Instagram story posts.
“Essentially, this means they are using Brandmojis to enhance their posts and are including these brands in their everyday experiences. For us, this is the most convenient, natural and meaningful way for brands to connect with their consumers,” he says.
Brandmoji has also adopted a “local is lekker” approach. It has included a category of South Africanisms, made up of words and images that are popular in the local vernacular – Nelson Mandela, a vuvuzela, a traditional taxi, a braai emoji, the cancer ribbon, Table Mountain, South African money and words like eish, lekker, boet, and howzit, to name a few.
But the question is, how can entrepreneurs and businesses make use of this tool? Brands can use this tool as an important data collector for current and potential consumers. It enables businesses of any size to see who is talking about a specific brand and where these people are from.
“If consumers are continuously choosing your brand over your competitor, they are essentially your micro-brand ambassador,” he says.
Yarwood believes that in the context of the current coronavirus pandemic, Brandmoji is more relevant than ever. The pandemic has created a space where there is a strong push towards digital in the marketing arena, and has also cultivated a captive audience eager to adopt new trends.
“In South Africa alone digital is the fastest-growing advertising medium and the beauty of it is that it’s measurable and more cost-effective. We are giving power back to the consumers – the brand ambassadors. This is organic, rich data from the people that make the needle move. What brands are we missing the most during lockdown? Well, we don’t have this information unless consumers tell us. This is done through the use of the Brandmoji keyboard, chat platforms, and social media. We are tired of being bombarded with a single narrative, let us the consumers tell you what we want and love.”
However, with new consumer wants and behaviour, so too are brands making a shift in mindset to accommodate the new technology.
“Giving power back to the consumers and letting them choose is nothing new, it’s just a matter of embracing a full-throttle adoption approach. I have never seen so much creativity popping up on social media. People are using their most valuable assets again – their brains,” he says.
Besides, Yarwood expects the AdTech (Advertising Technology) industry to be booming in the next few years with AI, virtual reality, and augmented reality taking the lead. In this arena, he says brands need to focus on subtle ways to integrate and be effective.
“If consumers are continuously choosing your brand over your competitor, they are essentially your micro-brand ambassador”
“Individuality, customisation, and understanding your customer are going to be key elements of future success in the industry. This is exciting and appealing for consumers, and we endeavour to focus on this.”
According to Yarwood, the future is bright for BrandMoji.
“We want to increase our brand partnerships, reach a large chunk of the South African demographic and then scale internationally. We plan to continue adding value by offering our partners the most cost-effective digital marketing opportunities and being the leaders in innovation. Our focus and goal is to improve our technology and enhance user experience! We love to see people prosper, countries develop and nations evolve.”
This feature was published in partnership with Brandmoji.
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