Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Brand Building in the Digital Age

Published Aug 18, 2017 03:44pm
PAS organises a master class in Karachi, conducted by Julian Saunders; an author strategist and trainer from Google.

Earlier this week, the Pakistan Advertisers’ Society (PAS) held a master class on ‘Brand Building in the Digital Age’ at the Marriott hotel, Karachi. The objective was to highlight the importance of digital technology and inspire innovation amongst brands.

The seminar was conducted by Julian Saunders, a strategist, trainer and author who has worked at Google, with their creative division, and a think tank called ‘Zoo’. Saunders was previously the Strategy Director, Ogilvy; Head of Strategy, McCann-Erikson; he has also worked on a number of behaviour change campaigns for the UK Government.

The day-long seminar has been previously held in the US and the UK, where it was attended by brands such as Centrica, Danone, the Guardian and Jaguar. In Karachi too, it brought together a variety of local participants from sectors that included banks, FMCGs, insurance, pharmaceuticals, telecos and their advertising partners.

Divided into two sessions (morning and afternoon), the first half of the workshop focused on how the digital medium had changed the behaviours and habits of people and the importance of understanding the complicated mindset of digital natives and what they expected from brands.


When designing apps or websites, Saunders stressed that brands should focus on simplicity (as he put it, “simple designs travel light and fast”), evolving constantly and creating the experience of upgraded services to keep the new “tough customers” engaged... all of this while not forgetting to make their values and ethics (and not technology) their driving force.


Saunders defined digital natives as young 18 to 24 year-old “always connected” people, with supercomputers in their pockets, who, while they craved new information constantly, are very particular about their privacy. He quoted examples of three social media giants, Facebook, KiK and Snapchat, and said the reason why they had gained enormous success was because Snapchat gives their users the power to create private spaces and was the first to create self-destructing messages while KiK offers anonymity. As for Facebook, Saunders said the major reason behind the platform’s success was Zuckerberg’s understanding of human psychology (having done his majors in Computer Science and Psychology at Harvard). “He knows how to scratch your itch,” said Saunders, while pointing out the importance of blending technology with human behaviour.

When designing apps or websites, Saunders stressed that brands should focus on simplicity (as he put it, “simple designs travel light and fast”), evolving constantly and creating the experience of upgraded services to keep the new “tough customers” engaged... all of this while not forgetting to make their values and ethics (and not technology) their driving force.

The second half of the seminar discussed how smartphones have transformed consumer expectations, how brands could effectively market content on YouTube, as well as the Google set up and its tools and techniques.

Saunders, while talking about his presentation, said it was the result of many conversations with people at Google and young people in general.

“I have evolved this presentation over a period of time and have brought it down to the level of general (jargon free and human) principles so that people can debate and discus what is relevant to them.”

He said in the digital world, it’s not really advertising that builds a brand but how the brands evolve and develop their services in terms of design and content for today’s mobile generation, which is the same in every country.

“They all like experiencing different apps and are constantly upgrading them and Pakistan is no different.”