Free from the Box. Pandora is not happy.

 

ImageIt is understandable that tobacco companies and weapons manufacturers are legally forbidden from advertising their products and services, but when you hear that architectural practices are given the same publicity inhibitions, it is inexplicable to a creative.

The Yin Media CEO had gone to the DVD store to update his collection. While walking through the aisles at the video store he bumped into Architect Segun Olurunfemi; a principal partner at a first generation Architectural firm in Nigeria and a longtime friend of his. Their conversation quickly went to business and this was when he shared the predicament his sector and company in particular was facing.

The inability of a brand to promote its image, self-imposed or otherwise, will inevitably reduce its relevance and eventually lead to an absolute elimination of its demand in today’s culture of almost everything being ubiquitous. Being a staunch pro-advertising advocate, the thought of any organization being legally barred from advertising had a disorienting effect on the CEO. Architect Segun went on to explain that his firm needed some form of exposure with its publics, and by the end of the conversation ‘STEVEBEN AND ASSOCIATES’ was a new YIN MEDIA client and the CEO was personally anxious to begin executing ideas that had already started to flow. What could help this company expose its core to its target audience while sidestepping the outrageous legal impositions? Solution oriented thinking was automatic.

Adopting the popular saying; “if there’s no door then use a window and if there’s no window then make one” they devised a plan.  If the client could not advertise, at the very least they could represent. ’   Radio, TV advertising, YouTube, Facebook etc. are the usual suspects called upon when an individual or organization needs to scream.  Since the client could not legally advertise in Nigeria they could establish a corporate identity platform and digital brand image that would constantly speak for the company, without the need to actually shout. What they needed the image of this company to do is simply walk in with its briefcase and immaculate suit, sit down, cross its legs and say ‘I’m here, and I’m able’. After evaluating the current corporate identity, YIN MEDIA’S CEO realized that what the client needed was a complete rebranding. Image

STEVEBEN &ASSOCIATES possesses a regal heritage of great architects, a company more than 30 years old which has managed to evolve as the market and technology did the same. The first advice they were able to give the company is to let this rebranding coincide with a reinvestment in technology. From their cranes down to their laptops and their logo, the rebirth of the company should not only be seen by their publics, it should also be felt within their human resources.  A project execution structure was drawn up to guide the team. The work to be done would require meticulous data sifting, subject and case study research, material resource gathering, creation of vector and 3D models of corporate insignia and finally a watertight branding strategy.

At a progress briefing the YIN MEDIA content developer explained to the client that they had commenced building a corporate identity platform that will include; a new unique brand logo, corporate website, corporate brochure, branded office tools and communication materials. The website and corporate brochure would display the firm’s weighty portfolio, since these would not count as overt advertising.

The Yin media graphic designer presented various art options to be used for the brochure and website. He suggested to unanimous agreement that one general background image will be used to ensure theme consistency in both the brochure and website, as well as engendering the brand colors and logo. After hours of going over potential graphics they finally decided to use a background image inspired by majestic and historic architectural endeavors. This would allude to power and timelessness. The brand log- a crest-like framework that looked like the wrought iron gates to a grand estate. The branded office communication tools would indirectly market the firm by ensuring that their logo is spread through as wide a demographic as possible and all materials to be used were handpicked by a team of Yin Media personnel before being commissioned for print. After a full multimedia presentation of the website it was launched to the web and the printers had ensured that the brochures and all branded materials were delivered in satisfactory condition.

Back to his work station, mulling over possible marketing stratagem for Yin media’s next client, the CEO was mildly surprised when his phone began to ring and it was Architect Segun calling. Architect Segun was impressed by the innovative and “legal” publicity solutions that had been created for their company. Architect Segun remarked that even though none of what had been created amounts to pure advertising, they were convinced that it would have a similar effect.

“Yin Media has a remarkable sense for modern design techniques and the results speak for themselves. The company works punctually, diligently and with great attention to detail. Our company is over 25 years old and Yin Media is the right choice to enhance our Brand for the future.” -Architect Segun Olorunfemi, Managing Partner, STEVEBEN & ASSOCIATES Architects.

 

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EPISODE 2 : THE MOHAWK IN THE ROOM ( ADVENTURES OF AN OFFICE PIN )

It’s just a haircut after all’, the chief Architect said to the Yin Media CEO, smiling widely, at the Briefing for the Green russets real estate venture, ‘you’ve always been a bit eccentric anyway.’ He took his eyes off of the CEO’s head and launched into the project brief without notes or slides. He gave the kind of precise descriptions of someone who had obviously sacrificed sleep to build ideas for the project. 1st Generation architects Steveben & Associates and Green russets consortium were planning to build a 5-star hotel and an American University of science and technology along the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua expressway in Abuja. The CEO had disappeared into his frown of focus; every single project where people get together to do the grandiose manages to bring a concentrated glare to his face. They began to imagine the different possible applications of their skills to the project, how brief or extensive, what would be the sacrifice in time?

The emergence of this project coincided with the move of their operational headquarters from Abuja to Lagos and they had already closed shop, secured office space in Lagos and were ready to leave town but they knew better than to turn down an opportunity to be part of a gig this big. But they were in need of a temporary station to set-up and execute this project, since they had already given up their previous office space they decided to move into a Hotel for the duration. After all, their current mandate required knowledge of hotels.

Yin Media was consulted to develop and publish an executive government bid for the Green Russets consortium that would be forwarded through the federal government to the World Bank to express their development plans and request for a build, own & transfer contract agreement. The bid would contain vivid graphics and well researched data, project specifications and 3d imagery of the proposed structures, beginning with the end in mind.

Research on similar successfully executed projects was the procedural minimum, but the Yin Media team has always had a problem with the status quo regarding ‘groupthink’. With fighting the old war and applying supposedly ‘classic’ approaches to problem solving, expression and creativity. For instance, when Generals read up on war history and great conquerors before them, it should not be so that they follow the strategies they have read to the letter, copying exact maneuvers. Rather, it should be to stimulate their imaginations and prepare them for any number of strategic possibilities, so that when they are faced with challenges, they find that they are mentally prepared to adapt and survive.

Loosely adapting knowledge gained they launched into development by assembling the necessary quarry; the hotel blueprints- designed by an independent Brazilian Architect, the site map and satellite imagery, the numerous potential sub-contractors  profile sheets and an acknowledgement note drafted by the head of the Green Russets board. Meanwhile, their frequent movement- carrying files and briefcases around was causing a stir at their temporary station, the client’s offices and the site.  It could have been their sense of purpose or their smart corporate attire, but what distracted them was most likely the CEO’s Mohawk.

The only way to stand out and achieve perfection is by uniqueness of character and skill, which is the general consensus towards work at Yin Media; that the final product surpasses its advertised potential. In this case they had to deliver a product of superior quality in a limited period of time, working out of a hotel room. The best possible materials for the bid production were chosen; impression hard-back binding and matte gloss paper within. No compromises.

A few more meetings with the clients, numerous cups of coffee over late night brainstorms and several half-decent hotel meals later they had completed the draft for the bid. The CEO who had to be in Lagos to water the ground for the arrival of his team booked the next available flight. They would publish the bid using a renowned printing press in Lagos.

The Yin Media content developer spent his Saturday morning at an impressive print centre in Abuja ensuring that the sample copy of the bid was done in perfect order. It was pertinent that no detail was lost during print: borders, water marks, numbering and image clarity. Needless to say the final bid came out looking impeccable; befitting the presidential team of executives it was created for. The content developer received the bids by courier that morning was excited to be the one to deliver it to the client. Enroute the Green Russets office, a young man with oversized baggy jeans and a Mohawk dashed across traffic, causing the elderly taxi driver to abruptly step on the brakes. As the young man dashed across, the taxi driver shouted at the absent minded youth ‘Won’t you look before you cross the road?’ hissing as he drove on. Under his breath he muttered to himself ‘I wonder who would give a job to someone with that kind of hair…’’ The irony of the statement wasn’t lost on the Content Developer, who plugged in his earphones and turned up the music on his iPod, contemplating Steve Job’s unique design.

YIN MEDIA PROJECT: GREEN RUSSETS CONSORTIUM . FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BID DEVELOPMENT

http://www.yin-media.com

Everything is being turned on its head. Most of the principles, myths, axioms and ideas that we once accepted to be either true or proper have been given new connotations, and these new suggestions have been embraced by the new, bolder generation. Even though we differ in ideology as humans from country to country, race to race, culture to culture, there are a few things that we come to accept in the world of ideas as ‘politically correct’ and ‘acceptable’. We can say we agree that world leaders should not be sexually deviant or fiscally corrupt, and that children under a certain age should not be forced into labour. We can agree that censorship is acceptable in certain forms, like protecting children from porn & TV violence or shielding our credit card information and ratings from prying eyes.

As we delve further into the 21st century it’s obvious that society’s collective mindset has taken a turn that sets us on a path in the opposite direction from previously perceived precedents of popular culture and ideology (with a depreciating moral aspect uncomfortably attached); which is itself a translation of our essence as a social species. In the same way that human beings just like us once were deadly convinced that the world was flat (or for that matter a vertical multi-levelled structure; imagine a massive building in orbit), our collective global mindset is experiencing seismic shifts.  In this information age fuelled by the internet, the world seems to be becoming smaller, and it is now much easier to get a feel of what a country; or the world as a whole, thinks about a particular idea or event.

Our favourite alien ‘Superman’, which we have come to know and love almost as if he were real, was once accepted as the all  powerful hero who held back from using his powers as much as possible, reigning back violence even when a villain had murdered innocent humans. He always believed in not killing his enemies, just subduing them and handing them over to the authorities and a generation loved him for it. He was objective, principled and full of restraint.                                        The new pop culture collective seems to have tired of this ‘branding’ of superman.

In a 2011 video trailer for the new DC (comics) UNIVERSE ONLINE; a gruesome battle between super villains and superheroes is underway. Wonder woman, superman’s love interest has been hurt. The Superman that appears to save her is different from the one we used to know. His usually neat cape is ripped and tattered. His eyes are glowing red and his face is shown in an intensely angry, almost demonic grimace. On his way to save the Amazonian beauty, captain marvel tries to stop him, and this is when we see him reinforce the fact that everything is different. He breaks captain marvels hand, forces him to his knees and burns his face off with his heat vision rays until it seems there is no longer any face at all, dropping marvel’s body lifeless and moving on to the target, Lex Luthor, at whom he screams “you don’t deserve to live!”

This video can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eFkx65ZhAE&feature=related#                             and has over 15 million views worldwide. A majority of the comments prove that this new generation thought the old superman to be too soft, and that this new one is a “Boss” and ‘totally badass’.

Hip Hop once served as an outlet for the disenfranchised black American youths and reflected the social, economic and political realities of their lives. For years the culture grew and African Americans prided themselves on the fact that they had created this movement, and had a kind of colour coded ownership of it. For so long there seemed to be an unwritten rule that if you weren’t black, you couldn’t have credibility in this artform. The rhythmic alpha attitude, The fascination with sneakers, fashion and male jewellery, the accent, the bouncing walk , the “black struggle’; these were the tenets that were subconsciously believed to hold hip hop culture together. Even as the audience widened and Caucasians and the rest of the world joined the African American listeners, the rules seemed to remain. The closest anyone got to bending the rules was ‘Vanilla Ice’, who gained some popularity, but faded from the scene due to a lack of consistent credibility.  He just wasn’t as ‘gangsta’ as the dominant black males leading the genre.

Years later, Marshall Mathers aka ‘Eminem’ proceeded to demolish all such rules and accepted precedents, not only successfully gaining a foothold in hip hop but rising to dominate the charts whenever he makes a release. He did this through a combination of shock value, black comedy (no pun intended) and articulate, albeit violent, biting lyrics.  The new generation latched on to his total fearlessness and disregard for whatever was known to be acceptable at the time. This included rhythmically insulting any public figure he simply didn’t like, sometimes dressing up as a woman in an alpha male culture while vocalizing a deep homophobia and discussing his narcotics use with the same transparency and passion as his fatherhood responsibility. He is the artist that finally broke down racial boundaries in the all-black hip hop world. He has sold around 83 million albums and broken so many records in the music business and he himself has many stories of those who advised him to quit because it couldn’t work. We all know that if words were weapons, Eminem’s would be some of the most violent we’ve ever heard.

We shift attention the world of politics. The Arab world was previously known for the amalgamation of religion and state and long periods of conformity to the authority of domineering, dictatorial leadership. However, it recently experienced an unprecedented uprising against age-old authoritarian regimes; most notably in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Such volatile scenes usually erupt when the US and its allies intervene openly in such areas around the Middle East, now the youth passionately decided they would do it themselves.

 

This kind of youthful revolution was previously the stuff of cinema and novels of great mobilization led by romantic, charismatic young / middle aged rebels. They rose up, seemingly all around the same time period (mainly 2011) to fight for social mobility, the freedom of information and the right to choose their leaders without the entrenched idea of entitled succession. The first part was psychological, if u like, with the use of the internet, social media sites and the global blogosphere. The rest of the revolution was very physical, in some cases very brutal.

Another series of events culminating in a kind of information rebellion of its own calls for global attention; the search for the alleged war criminal Joseph Kony.  Kony 2012, whether one chooses to support it or be cynical about it, has ultimately  achieved Invisible children’s initial viral and confrontational objective, which is to get large numbers of people talking about Kony and his alleged crimes, with most of them in agreement with tracking him down and making him answer for them, as well as the profits being made for the ‘N.G.O.’ itself. The idea is that the collective force of will generated will be the key to achieving this goal. The point is that there have been many leaders of this nature but none of them has been ‘hunted’ in this way. It is a sign of these more restless times, when the voice of the rebel generation seems to be reaching a fever pitch and they are willing, more than ever, to use all the media now available to broadcast socio-political convictions.

What these issues all have in common is the fact that accepted precedents were shattered and unexpected change dominated the status quo. So it seems we are no longer interested in heroes. We are now interested in courageous anti-heroes. We have lost the patience it takes to see the good guy play nice and follow due process, otherwise known as ‘procedure’. Jack Bauer, anyone?   The idea of forgiveness and fair trial has become boring so it has been shelved for the idea of street retribution and immediate punishment to the guilty. We want to see the good guy roll up his sleeves and crack some heads. Are we collectively heading towards a globally unanimous vigilante mindset?

When people come up with ideas that are seemingly shocking, confrontational or even outlandish there is a tendency to immediately begin to see how it could all go wrong. This may even occur because the idea is simply different. The key then is the kind of momentum one can create for an idea which allows it to be forceful enough to break through precedent and secure a place for its self, be it a business, social, political or academic campaign. Ideas now move so fast around the world that the time it takes for an idea to grow from a simple thought in someone’s head to part of the stream of mass consciousness has been reduced to possibly minutes.  In general, therefore, action is collectively taken faster, which also means that feedback will be relayed to the originator of an idea faster than ever before, ultimately informing on the popularity (or not) of the idea. This is not just a technological advantage, it is a reason to eliminate the fear of acting out our ideas. Since precedent is constantly being shattered, it proves that there is no set blueprint for the realization of ideas. They are generally created for the particular objectives they serve.

Demola Adedoyin

Yin Media LLc. http://www.yin-media.com

info@yin-media.com

 

EPISODE 1: PROSTITUTES AND HOSPITALITY (ADVENTURES OF AN OFFICE PIN)

If you’ve ever (clears throat) owned a hotel, you already know what a challenge it is to generate and maintain the human traffic necessary to create fiscal liquidity in the hospitality industry. Some go to the extremes of service and others, the extremely charming use of gimmicks. The famous Transcorp Hilton hotel in Abuja once known as NiconNoga ; the first 5-star hotel of its kind in the country was once an empty brand new hotel in need of befitting clientele. Rumor has it that as a strategy to lure wealthy clientele to the hotel the management went in search of beautiful and alluring commercial sex workers in town and opened their doors for them to troop in and simply make new acquaintances. The ‘SHERATON’ hotel in Abuja; located in the wuse district of ‘zone 4’ notorious for the alleged surplus of sex hawkers in its vicinity at night, it is also rumored that when the hotel first sprung up the authorities had been bribed to turn a blind eye on the growing number of prostitutes on the streets of this federal suburb because they wanted to attract clientele for the hotel; just like a tourist attraction. These stories were never confirmed to be true.

They came up as funny anecdotes of rumored competitive strategy used in hospitality during brainstorming for Yin Media’s new client Beni Apartments. During their first consultation we were given a tour around the property, impressed with the obvious technical detail that went into its construction. A posh 8 storey building in Victoria island Lagos housing 60 luxury apartments fully equipped with events, catering, fitness and recreational facilities. The facility manager and current PR consultant briefed them on their marketing progress, going on to explain that Yin Media was brought in to develop a full multimedia website and lend its resources to the public relations and marketing department.

Before individual tasks were delegated to team members, a freelance photographer was brought in to capture (high definition DSLR) images of the facility from which they would choose images for the website.  The job was to create a suitable online presence to serve as a global corporate station for Beni Apartments and also assist to build its customer base through Yin Media’s social and corporate affiliations. The latter part would be akin to giving out a corporate database for free, because in this information age we are in, contact databases have monetary value. A site map was drawn guided by research on some of the best luxury accommodation providers in the world, then they decided to go against the grain of those ideas because Beni has its own unique charm. They call this the ‘Anti-Follower technique’.

The thing with diligence is that when you decide to embark upon it, situations that were  mysteriously elusive during planning sessions when people offered up ideas on all  the things that could possibly happen, can still unfold as you progress. Diligence requires that you lift perspective from the daily minutae of the ongoing project and use a bird’s eye view, whenever challenges arise. The spiritual would call these type of situations ‘tests’, which they are, but the Yin Media team chose to view them as ‘new developments requiring further contingency.’ It is not an easy thing to give personality to the inanimate, so the soul of a hospitality establishment must come from the desires of the management. It is in the spirit of this realization that the owners want long staying repeat customers (who will see it as a place of refuge, rather than a port of call) that they decided on a more muted marketing effort. Of course mainstream media like print, radio and Tv would be required for the initial launch, but this would be minimal, and there would be a continuous effort towards more targeted, more intimate  outreach.

The project liaison delivered all the necessary information they had requested for to aid in building keyword sensitive copy for the site, the keen Yin Media designer had selected the best images to be used, the only thing left was to develop a marketing strategy to attract the caliber of clientele desired by Beni Apartments.

The pull that humans have to glamour and fortune is immutable and the majority are prone to latch onto the slightest chance to be associated with wealth, success or even just plain popularity. This is key to their agreed strategy, since the entertainment industry is currently enjoying the beginnings of a boom, with the spending power that comes with it. After building a dynamic website with a personalized picture reel of the suites, an online reservation platform and personalized mail functionality (our first mandate) they targeted tour established contacts in the entertainment industry and a nearby international university and drew them to the patronage of Beni apartments. They did this knowing very well that artists bring with them the inevitable accompaniments of star attraction; their management, their entourage, their teams.

After all, artists and celebrities are just a more colorful breed of business man and woman. For the purpose of client discretion we are obliged to exclude the identities of the distinguished celebrities that frequent the hotel.

The project was completed and 2 members of the team had driven to the hotel late one evening for an appraisal meeting after hosting the website. The clients were satisfied with the work done and as they left the hotel driving out into the night with  grins on their faces they passed another hotel as they drove and saw 4 skimpily dressed women standing casually in front of it. “Probably guests going for a walk”, one suggested, and they exchanged smiles over the playing music .

YIN PROJECT: BENI APARTMENTS WEB DEVELOPMENT AND PR / MARKETING

BENI APARTMENTS, Plot 37 Ahmed Onibudo st Victoria Island lagos

Visit www.beniapartments.com

http://www.yin-media.com

An award winning video / film director was recently casting for a new high budget TV show to be filmed in Lagos, Dubai and South Africa in the HD format and we were invited to do the branding for the show. The show is formed around a set of young, beautiful Lagosians and I must say he had an overwhelming influx of young people during the casting sessions. The challenge came when he had to cast parents for the main cast. As the older generation of articulate thesp seemed to trickle in sparsely, an obvious lack of available talent in this demographic became obvious.

When Yin Media was recently invited by one of our Abuja clients, the PNNI (Patriots for New Nigeria Initiative) to discuss possible ways in which the youth of the country could get more involved in politics, our preliminary research led us to some revealing information. With 70% of an estimated 150M Nigerians being below 35, the country is heading towards a period where the job market will be dominated by the youth. Since unemployment figures in developing economies are historically known to be erratic, we foresee a boom in entrepreneurship activity in the next two decades as more and more youth take matters into their own hands. This sounds good on paper, but we must keep in mind the inevitable aftermath of a boom, which is saturation. However, not everyone suffers this dreaded part of the economic cycle. Most of those who excel in their field, always fewer than those that don’t, survive recessions and market saturation.

Many young people often ask themselves the same questions when they first explore the thought of starting up their own business; “how much do I need? How much am I going to make out of this? Should I run this myself or employ people more experienced in this particular line of work?” These are all crucial questions but are being considered at the wrong time. Your first patterns of thought should be more like; “Is this idea potentially popular/useful enough for my target audience? Do I love this idea enough to see it through the inevitable storms? Am I prepared for the possible ways this idea could expand, contract or even change? Do I have the energy it takes to be responsible for other people?” These questions are pivotal in your decision to go forth and if you find that you can’t say a resounding ‘yes’ to all of them then you should reconsider your motives for entrepreneurship.

In these new fast paced modern times everything is subject to change especially when it comes to business. New ideas and innovations are debunking older ones and there has been a great shift in entrepreneurial thinking. This new paradigm introduces a breed of business man / woman that we call the forward thinking entrepreneur.

The concept of a ‘forward thinking entrepreneur’ is born out of the swift changes we’ve seen in the global commercial landscape in the past decade; with pop culture, worldwide financial upheaval, the speed of information access and revolutionary activism in politics and environmentalism overwhelming the status quo, also indirectly playing a major role in business viability and success. Technological advancements have pulled the world closer together creating, for the first time in history, one global market where everybody speaks the same language: Profit! The forward thinking entrepreneur is an expert at combining social and commercial objectives based on these changes. It has become far more necessary to research outside of one’s particular sector of industry in order to prepare for modern changes which come upon us so rapidly.

Synergizing business goals with co-existence with other companies in the same and other industries he or she aligns with the inevitable, drawing fewer lines between business operation and social interaction. In order to reposition yourself as a forward thinking entrepreneur and facilitator of change for your business whether small or large, at start-up stage or mid-cycle, here is a list of vital steps toward independent business success in these modern times;

–        Constant Re-education: it is pertinent that you are knowledgeable, getting access to the latest information on broadly influential topics, not limiting your quest for knowledge to your specialized line of business or lifestyle. Read as much as you can; Literature, the news, magazines, websites, health and business journals, etc. No knowledge is wasted knowledge, especially for the modern entrepreneur who never knows where the next opportunity or business idea will spring from.

–        Enthusiastic Passion: pursue your business fuelled by a real interest and not just economic need. Most independent business owners get so overwhelmed by the daily operations of their business that they lose the inner flair that inspired its inception in the first place. If you don’t love what you do it will slowly reflect on your business, your team and their output. Lack of motivation is a silent killer of independent business. An enthusiastic, clear and purposeful mind facilitates better judgment and decision making.

–        Self-branding: structure your professional life so that you function as a brand and not just a brand manager. A forward thinking entrepreneur realizes that he or she is the business, not necessarily the manager of the business. Expanding a base of clientele requires the breaking of any barriers that may have resulted from limited social interaction or the geographical distance of a business to its desired audiences.  Consumer perception has become greatly influential in the modern world of business, with the health of a CEO having the power to affect stock prices, as we have seen with Apple. The bottom line is that nobody wants to invest their money in a brand that lacks confidence and poise. Be outspoken, challenge mediocrity and most importantly be helpful and deal fairly with other businesses you happen to come across because they all contribute to the perceived nature of your business.

–         Milestone Development: Detailed mission statements and goals should be regularly set for yourself and your team. This can be on a weekly, monthly or even daily basis. To survive in any environment you must be ready to adapt and by achieving the short term goals you set, it shows that you are adapting to your environment and it gives you a feeling of growth and self-fulfillment, as well as the advantage of recording the exact level of operational progress.

–        Internet Marketing: The internet is the fast becoming the most widely used marketing tool in the world. Everyday millions of people surf the net looking for information about a product or service which you probably offer. Position yourself to be noticed on the web, either through a company website or social media platform.

There is no strict guideline or manual for making the transition from a ‘business man / woman’ to a forward thinking entrepreneur, the important thing to remember is that the world is changing in ways that are new to all of us. The key to it all is preparation; being ready for when opportunity knocks. We encourage you to take a step in the right direction and secure a place for your dreams in the future.

Demola Adedoyin, for YIN MEDIA

Email: ceo@yin-media.com