Creativityis no longer a value add. Anyone can execute creative work,” says ReghardGoussard, CEO of Arctic Circle. It’s a bold statement, particularly for someonewho runs a brand agency. But at a time when marketing and branding areincreasingly being called upon to account for the bottom-line value they add,it’s also a timely one. The industry is feeling the pinch of cost-cuttingmeasures and slashed marketing budgets precipitated by the global financialcrisis.
Thereal value lies in transferring intellectual property, Goussard believes. Toadd game-changing value, he says brand agencies need to bring a businessstrategic approach to the projects they work on. “Brands exist as part ofbusinesses – you can’t separate the two. If you expect the brand to be able tochange the business for the better, you need to make sure you’re looking at thebrand through a business lens,” he says. Asa young entrepreneur determined to climb the mountain that is the advertisingindustry, Goussard founded Arctic Circle tenyears ago, but he still describes the agency as being made up of “young guns”.“The spirit of the company is founded on the fact that we see ourselves as‘exploriors’ – a combination of explorers and warriors,” he says. The businesscut its teeth designing and creating brands for clients, but over time hasrefined its focus to include a more hard-nosed strategic business approach.
Strategicbranding is not new. In fact countless agencies have added “strategic” to theirlist of descriptors, so what makes Arctic Circledifferent? “We’ve structured our entire business so that the value we add toclients’ brands is underpinned by sound business strategy,” Goussard says. Thisstructure has four divisions which govern the company’s work process whentackling a brief. “THINK® is our strategic department and it deals with brand,communication and positioning strategies, in partnership with the client. INTERACT®handles client contact and the management of this relationship, together withbrand plan implementation and project management. CREATE® comes up with thecreative concept and its various applications and SPACE® focuses on the retailand corporate space where the brand needs to be activated,” he explains. “Butwe don’t even touch creative until THINK® has done its stuff.”
Sowhat does all this translate into in practice, and how has it helped Arctic Circle to punch above its category weight in theindustry? Goussard points to a current piece of work as an example. “We’re busyworking with an international spirits company, creating hierarchical categoriesfor each of their brands within a particular spirits category. “Thisallows each label to have a clearly-defined target market that is separatefrom the other labels in the same spirit category. This is important from abusiness point of view because it prevents brands within the same companycompeting with each other.”Buthis long-term strategy goes deeper than that. “In conducting our research intothe industry, the consumers and the competitors, we realised that there is realpotential for this company to ‘own’ its spirit category, in much the same waythat France ‘owns’ bubbly, or South Africa ‘owns’ rooibos tea. We are workingto strategically position the business as the global leader in this way,”
“Seeingbrands through a business lens, in partnership with the client and against abackground of their industry-specific context, is what highlights suchopportunities. They can then be harnessed to add bottom-line value, not just tothe brands themselves, but to the business as a whole,” he adds. It’snot rocket science, but few agencies have managed to make the transition fromcreative to strategic partner successfully. In being one of them, Arctic Circle has hit on an important differentiator,something few businesses can do without in these challenging times.Contact:www.arcticcircle.co.za +27 21 486 8140
Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch
Keep your finger on the pulse of the start-up space by using our comprehensive list of SA small business to watch.
Entrepreneurship in South Africa is at an all-time high. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased by 4.1% to 11% in 2017/2018. This means numerous new, exciting and promising small businesses are launching and growing.
To ensure you know who the innovative trailblazers are in the start-up and small business space, here are 50 of South Africa’s top establishing companies to watch, in no particular order:
- Livestock Wealth
- The Lazy Makoti
- Mimi Women
- AfriTorch Digital
- Akili Labs
- Native Décor
- Quality Solutions
- EM Guidance
- Kahvé Road
- HSE Matters
- VA Virtual Assistant
- Famram Solutions and Famram Foundation
- BioTech Africa
- Brand LAIKI
- Plus Fab
- Lenoma Legal
- Benji + Moon
- Brett Naicker Wines
- Legal Legends
- The Power Woman Project
- Aviro Health
- AnaStellar Brands
- Data Innovator
- Oolala Collection Club
- Empty Trips
- Vula Mobile
- The Katy Valentine Collection
- Pimp my Book
- ART Technologies and ART Call Management
- The Sun Exchange
How 28-Year Old Entrepreneur Adam Fine Is Leveraging The Global Phenomenon Of Five-A-Side Football
Adam Fine of Fives Futbol discusses how he leverage a global phenomenon and the value of strategic partnerships in business.
- Player: Adam Fine
- Company: Fives Futbol
- Est: 2011
- Visit: www.fivesfutbol.co.za
Nothing about Adam Fine is by-the-book. The 28-year-old entrepreneur describes himself as a slightly big child. He’s the CEO of one of the most exciting start-ups in South Africa, having leveraged the global phenomenon of five-a-side football to start a business that has grown almost as fast as the game itself. Not bad for a venture that was launched with the princely sum of R85 000 — Fine’s life savings at the time.
He started it in 2011, with a strong focus on corporate social investment and making a positive social impact. It was by forming strategic partnerships that Adam really managed to grow Fives Futbol. He’s opened pitches in prime locations that serve both the school and corporate markets, while still being accessible for social impact interventions in local communities.
Pivoting at the right time is key to growth
In the last 18 months, Fives Futbol has trebled in size, and achieved some amazing milestones — it now employs 50 full-time staff, and 80 part-timers. It’s one of the factors that drives Adam, as many of his employees support up to eight family members. It’s now also represented in four provinces and 15 locations around the country. By September, there will be 18.
Quick growth means you have to be able to pivot quickly when things do not go according to plan, and mostly they don’t, Adam says. “If things are not working you should be able to ‘pivot’, to shift your focus. And do it fast. It’s not a sign that things have gone wrong by any means, on the contrary, it means you have the insight to recognise that there is a problem with the assumptions on which you have built your business model. The decision to pivot is a big one, and not something to be taken lightly. It requires you to take a hard look at your reallocation of resources, and to do it with an open mind.”
In Adam’s case, construction delays, councils taking their time to approve, or having to put money into rolling out sites as opposed to marketing, means the promotion of a new site will slow down, for example, because the business does not yet have a large marketing budget.
“When we run behind on the construction of a new site, R40 000 can suddenly become R100 000 — but here’s the thing: If a deal comes along that will probably harm your business in the short-term but enable significant long-term growth, sometimes you have to juggle what you have so you can make it work.”
The Lesson: Choose your investors carefully
Fine says he’s lucky to have a solid group of investors that he has cultivated over six years. “Their input is invaluable. They’ll say, ‘slow down’ or ‘have you thought of this?’, ‘have you factored in that?’ The ability to develop a good relationship with our investors has had a significant impact on the success of the company. Over and above money, they provide wisdom, guidance and connections.”
His relationship with his investors is key. While many entrepreneurs make it just about the money, Adam understood something else — he has a pretty cool brand with a great cause behind it. So, while investors are asked for money all the time, he was able to offer something more than just a business idea — alignment. He generated enthusiasm for the ‘why,’ behind the business. Like most of us, it makes investors happy to know that they are helping to make a positive difference.
And while it’s easy to bandy about the word ‘partnership’, Adam has worked hard to make that a reality. He set out to find like-minded people who are passionate about the business and the cause, which is why they are able to serve as great resources for advice and insight.
Related: Richard Branson’s ABCs Of Business
“The best way to ensure that you and your investors have a valuable and lengthy partnership is to make sure that everyone is aligned on the vision.”
This includes Adam’s team. The internal culture of an organisation is vital to its strength and growth. “Without our team we don’t have a business for investors to support — our people are critical to our success. They’re the executors of the vision at the end of the day.”
The Lesson: The value of strategic partnerships
Much of the growth of Fives Futbol has been fuelled by finding the right sponsorship partners in key industries. To overcome the challenge of a limited marketing budget, Adam has secured sponsorships with big brands like Adidas, Total Sports, Debonairs, and Klipdrift, allowing Fives Futbol to use their access to communities as a marketing platform to derive income as well as scale. And it works both ways.
“Because we have a national footprint and a team of people, we run activations for our partners, which also provides us with an ancillary revenue stream,” he says. “Knowing how to join forces with other businesses has been a key factor in making the business successful. Our strategic partners have enabled the business to leverage their brand to give us more exposure. When it works well, a strategic partnership can be just what you need to speed up the growth of your business.”
Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses
The advent and advancement of the online marketplace has led these entrepreneurs to successfully build and grow their ecommerce empires.
South Africa’s ecommerce market is worth R10 billion per year. By 2021, the number of online shoppers is expected to have reached 24.79 million.
“Our recent research on SA shows people are browsing three hours or more on their mobile phones and 25% shop online. They trust local brands,” says Geraldine Mitchley, Visa senior director for digital solutions in sub-Sahara Africa.
These entrepreneurs have cashed in on ecommerce and launched successful online stores that have either established their dominance in the market, or are taking the e-tailing world by storm.
Here’s how these 15 ecommerce capitalists are making money using the Internet:
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