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THE ADVENTURES OF AN OFFICE PIN. EPISODE 3: BENDING THE RULES

 

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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E02: THE MOHAWK IN THE ROOM

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

E01: PROSTITUTES & HOSPITALITY

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