In May 2017, Hershey Senior Marketing Manager, Kwok-Yu Ng, Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW) Marketing Manager Eszter Dara, and CPW Regional Insights Controller Priya Sivaraman joined a kick-off call with TechnoServe staff to begin a project with two District Women’s Development Associations (DWDA) in Zambia. Both Katete DWDA and Chipata DWDA produce sunflower oil with the goal of providing nutritious products to their communities and providing empowering economic opportunities for women. In typical PFS fashion, we recently conducted a virtual interview with Eszter and Kwok-Yu to learn more about the experience.
Q: What was your role on the projects?
Kwok-Yu: I served as a marketing volunteer. My role was to help the clients define the brand positioning, its differentiation, and competitive advantages in order to write a design brief to initiate the brand design for packaging use. I then helped evaluate the design options and guide the client decision towards choosing the final designs.
Eszter: As a project volunteer on the Chipata & Katete branding projects, I’ve partnered with two other volunteers and a design agency to develop the first ever branding visuals and label designs for the sunflower oil produced by Chipata & Katete District Women’s Development Associations.
Q: What was the biggest challenge?
Eszter: The biggest challenge was to receive all necessary input from the client in a timely manner and to understand their rationales behind the feedback on the proposed design routes.
Kwok-Yu: The biggest challenge was that because the volunteer group had no experience in the local market in Zambia, we had many branding and consumer questions that the clients were perhaps not accustomed to, so there tended to be some delays in addressing the questions. I believe our questions helped the clients clarify their thinking on what their brands are about, and that clarity helped us create a tight design brief that led to great designs as a result.
Q: What surprised you about this experience?
Eszter: It was a positive surprise how closely, constructively and smoothly the entire project team collaborated, especially given that we all are coming from different professional backgrounds and three continents; we have never met in person and this was the very first time we worked together. We were working towards one aligned mission and this enabled the great, results-oriented and purpose-driven collaboration.
Kwok-Yu: That the world can work so seamlessly together! Our clients were in Zambia, our volunteers were in the UK and 3 different states/time zones in the US, and we all worked together to deliver beautiful, inspiring designs for farm-to-bottle sunflower oil to support the local women's development associations. We were remote in geography, but all genuinely connected to the cause.
Q: What was the most meaningful takeaway?
Kwok-Yu: I believe we really made a difference for the local entrepreneurs who are on their way to building and expanding their businesses. I hope the brand designs live on for many years to come as the businesses develop to their full potential.
Eszter: Our volunteer work indeed positively impacts the future of these small African companies, and even small contributions can drive significant progress.
Q: Briefly describe the key elements to developing the branding for these businesses.
Kwok-Yu: Again, our branding questions upfront were critical - the volunteers are all experienced marketers who have done branding projects before and knew exactly what clarity we needed to have before writing the design brief. Great designs start with the right design briefs.
I think we managed our communications well. We volunteers would organize amoung ourselves by email (e.g. collect and organize our questions, share design brief drafts, exchange feedback on designs etc.) before communicating with the clients - this helped present a unified approach to the clients to help drive towards decisions.
We only had conference calls when necessary - most of our communications were handled by emails, and phone calls were held for decision making. We didn't have too many people on each call, which made the discussions more focused and more efficient.
The design agency did an amazing job. Hornall Anderson delivered beautiful designs from the start, so we were on the right track from the beginning.
To learn more, you can view Katete DWDA’s website: https://sites.google.com/site/katetedwda/home