A lot can happen in five years. In South Africa alone there is loadshedding, Zozibini Tunzi, Ramaphoria, Nkandla and the Rugby World Cup. For a team of specialist brand storytellers in Johannesburg, half a decade of creative sweat and agility has resulted in accelerated growth for this band of 20-something creatives. Their secret? The ability to find and tell the stories that build mad brand love for their clients and then translating those stories into unique, measurable brand strategies that produce results.
Born in Ghana, CEO for Idea Hive, Yaw Dwomoh, leads this young team, most of whom have been on this journey with him from the beginning. He is an MBA graduate from the Business School of the Netherlands, and a candidate in Mphil Marketing. He also sat as a panellist at the Africa Tourism Partners – furthering his passion to inspire Pan-African sustainable travel and tourism development through innovative leadership.
“When I started out, I had a vision of the value system and culture I wanted to create more than anything else. I had the experience and business knowledge to move us forward, but I was not sure exactly how we were going to get there. The only thing I knew I had to do, was to employ the right people. I wanted to make sure I didn’t fill spots for the sake of filling them.”
They started out to create an agency that delivered work of the highest quality for every client – big or small. As a “smaller” agency, they had a lot more to prove. Yaw says, “With niche agencies, there is often the perception that 1. work is sub-par and 2. delivery will be slower, but we set out to change that perception from the outset. I am fortunate that I found a team who believed in the dream so much that they were willing to extend themselves to the extent that they just got, it, done for every client.”
Their passion for African stories, to for and by Africans, has proved popular with global brands present in South Africa. The other cause they are passionate about – telling the stories of businesses doing good – quickly afforded them the opportunity to work with the Ronald McDonald House Charity. “Our work with RMCH was the perfect combination of telling stories that matter and doing so with excellence. Doing something you believe in creates energy in the team,” says Yaw.
What differentiates Yaw’s team is their ability to build a strategy for brand storytelling and providing a 360 degree through-the-line offering to their clients while seeing projects through from concept to completion. Their focus with every project is to connect with customers in a way that captures their hearts and their purchasing power. Their influencer marketing work on the McCafé 360 Digital Glam Cam campaign for example, recently drew attention, winning them a Smarties award.
“I am not a control-freak”, says Yaw, “But while we do create brand strategies for clients and agencies who then execute it themselves, being part of the entire process helps us be accountable, control client spend and above all, control the quality of our work. We don’t pitch and move. We are with them for the journey.”
If passion launched them, a firm set of values that include a culture of diversity and empowerment, has sustained them. “There are so many advantages to working with his young crew, 65 percent of whom are women. I firmly believe that if you empower a woman, you empower a whole generation. The history of women in this country and indeed the continent requires those of us blessed with a thriving business to use it as a platform to level that uneven playing field. You could say I am doing it for my own daughter.”
Much has been said about a ‘lazy’ younger generation, but Yaw says he has found the opposite to be true. “I find their energy and flexibility, vision and the way they challenge the status quo, refreshing. They exhibit a growth mindset which has frequently caused us to disagree, but more often than not it has drawn out even better work. There was a period last year where we had unfathomable deadlines to meet and it was fantastic to see how everyone just took ownership and did what they had to do. It really was a proud moment.”
The team includes 24-year old Brand Strategist, Keletso Nkabiti, talented artist and Creative Director Kamo Mogashoa who was also responsible for the recent Idea Hive rebrand, Sizwe Dhlamini driving Acquisitions and Retentions and Sizwe ‘Scoop’ Simelane as the brains behind all things digital.
And as their team has grown, so has their offering. They now boast strategic partnerships with New Reality, a VR/AR and Gaming specialist to enhance their clients’ experiential marketing efforts; Digitex Solutions a local information technology company to provide cutting edge digital storytelling marketing solutions; there is also a partnership with a global production and event creation partner.
“If you are thinking of approaching a strategic partner it is important that they are experts in their field, but for me it’s imperative that their value proposition aligns with what you are trying to achieve. Your customer must experience the same level of service at all their touchpoints,” he says.
A lot has happened in the last five years. Where will they be in another five years? “We’ll be here. And we’ll be quietly killing it,” Yaw adds.