Brand perception is the lifeblood of business success

Univation’s Simone Berger supports her clients as a brand strategist, facilitator and coach by implementing simple but powerful tools to ensure they reach the highest level of customer service.

Berger started Univation in 2009 out of a deep passion for creative thinking and brand strategy, which she uses to navigate entrepreneurs, leaders and brands to their fullest potential.

“I had an incredible boss at the time, while working at SABC 1 as their Senior On-Air Manager, who taught me the power of strategy and how combining this with creative execution becomes an unstoppable power for any business.”

She added that another reason why she started Univation was due to a frustration she had, which was being versed in both the client’s and the creative agency’s seat and that there was a big gap in the market between the two.

“Clients are frustrated with the mostly high costs and lack of sensitivity from agencies as it pertains to their inner culture, their strategy and their target market needs.

“Agencies experience frustration as they are rarely invited into the inner circle of their client strategy sessions in order to add real value and create deeper touchpoints with the client’s needs and objectives.”

Berger says she has seen too many brands die or lose reputation, as the customer always experiences this gap the most and companies end up dying a slow death or wasting money on shifting and fixing.

“I decided to do something about it by becoming a brand gatekeeper.

“In doing so, wearing the hat of the customer at all times. This builds an organic bridge between agencies and clients, thereby putting customer experience first, and ultimately rewarding both the brand and the agency.”

Berger supports organisations to understand their target market and what they really want, thereby clarifying the brand or product messaging and growing the business.

This is done through brand strategy, product innovation, customer experience, marketing and internal brand culture.

“What holds this all together is a powerful brand story that is compelling to the customer and your staff members.

“Harmony between stakeholders is what most organisations are missing.”

Berger, who describes herself as an objective brand gatekeeper and executive coach, mostly works with business-to-business (B2B) within the small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and yet has an impressive list of large multinationals to her name too.

The all-rounder’s experience has been diverse as she has worked in most industries, including health and beauty, law, mining, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, banking, insurance, education, NGOs, hospitality and IT.

“All industries suffer the same brand challenges, which is ‘who is our target market?’, ‘what do they really want as it relates to our business or product?’ and ‘how do we simplify our offering to ensure we compel interest and increase conversion?’.”

Over the years, Berger has identified some key factors that brands need assistance with, which includes clarifying their target segmentations, simplifying everything, making the customer the hero, and having next-level offerings that increase in cost and value as the customer’s trust increases.

“Customers don’t buy products purely based on features or good design. They buy based on how it makes them feel, how it can help them survive and thrive, and how effectively it can mirror their own unique story back to them.

“Customers crave simplicity and relevant value in an otherwise chaotic world.”

Berger, whose programmes have been used for Discovery Health, Investec, ACSA, Clarins International and Merk Pharmaceuticals, implements a three-phase approach.

Simone Berger, founder of Univation, supports brands in delighting their customer base to increase conversion and brand reputation. Photo: Supplied

“First, we focus on developing a brand strategy that helps the client understand their target market, their unique offering and how these two meet, which is then translated into a marketing plan and internal brand culture plan.

“Second, we review and amend all marketing material, customer touchpoints and staff processes (culture) to align to the new brand story.

“Lastly, I stay on as an objective brand gatekeeper (pay-as-you-go cost model) to support the client shift and strategise either all existing products and services, or help them expand into new markets with new products, with the aim to sustain business growth.

“These phases include facilitation, coaching, design execution and reporting.”

Berger says she feels the most pleasure when she sees her client’s reactions in the “phase one” workshop, when they realise how simple brand perception can be, how motivational it is for staff, and how quickly they can achieve results.

“There’s always a noted pause in this workshop when the client sees they have been working against the customer, despite their good intentions to serve.

“Being objective is great fun for me, as I get to see their offering and processes from a customer’s perspective.”

She added that having an objective brand gatekeeper onboard was almost like hiring a northern star.

“Someone who can remind and guide the entire workforce why they exist, and how best to keep profits soaring.”

Her short-term goal is to expand Univation by hiring expert talent, as Univation is growing exponentially.

“My objective is to have a larger pool of undeniably brilliant and skilled talent to access based on what my client’s unique needs are.”

Berger’s long-term goal for Univation is to move their offering online, which will make the methodology available to global clients.

“The tools are simple to understand, and when guided by one of my professional team members, is effective in any market and industry.”

Brands and entrepreneurs in need of these specialised services can visit https://www.univation.co.za/ for more information.

Berger has also done keynote speaking for FNB, Future Females, Business Engage, Investec and Discovery. To book her for a complimentary speaking event / interview, mail lisa@moonstonepr.co.za.

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