Q&A: How to create work that resonates with the consumer

Brand relevance in this age of personal brand endorsement is what marketers and brands are grappling with today, says Xolisa Dyeshana, co-host of the 2022 Nedbank IMC.

Brand relevance in this age of personal brand endorsement is what marketers and brands are grappling with today. “Never before have we seen such a personal endorsement of brands by our consumers. The issue of relevance becomes the golden needle that knits everything together,” says Xolisa Dyeshana, group creative director at ad agency Joe Public, and this year’s co-host of the 2022 Nedbank Integrated Marketing Conference (IMC).

In 2021, AdWeek named Dyeshana as one of 15 creative leaders from all over the world who are reshaping the advertising industry. No stranger to the notion of ‘relevance’, which is the theme of this year’s Nedbank IMC conference being held on July 29, 2022, Dyeshana unpacks and interrogates relevance:

What is marketing relevance to you today?

For me, it’s the importance of creating work that resonates with people. I think one of the biggest challenges for brands right now is to keep an ear to the ground; to be mindful of what is happening around us; and to acknowledge the realities of our audiences. We, as brands, advertisers and marketers, must be highly observant. It is markedly different from the time when brands could just talk at people. We need to talk with people and engage with them now. This is something that most marketers and advertisers grapple with.

Is it harder to be relevant in this changed world?

Not only do I think it’s harder, but it’s also more important than ever. The volume of communication and entertainment that consumers can choose from makes it extremely challenging to grasp their attention. We have to create communication that will make them want to consume our messages. But therein also lies an opportunity, because for the first time there is a feedback loop in real time. And if we get it right, that’s when we become part of conversations. That’s when we become part of culture.

How can we be all things to all people?

Consumers today are more vocal than ever. It’s important for brands to ensure that we’re not offending people in terms of fundamental things within the society that we exist. But I think there is also a danger in trying to be all things to all people. By chasing that, we can end up creating such bland work that we become nothing to anyone. Brands still need to take a view. But they also need to understand what the lay of the land is, what the relevant conversations are, and how all this aligns with the brand’s purpose and what it stands for.

With the decline of brand loyalty, how have consumers shifted?

This is interesting, because while the consumer has changed in terms of behaviour, I would argue that they fundamentally remain the same. What has changed, is the world around us. We’ve reached a place where we are spoilt for choice and empowerment. And, in the context of relevance, this has the potential to create absolute gold – because we have people advocating for the brands that are relevant to them. Never before have we seen such a personal endorsement of brands.

So must we change how we measure our marketing efforts?

Certainly. We used to put out communication and our metrics were pretty much based on the amount of people that saw or heard our communication. Today, the consumer levels of engagement are not fully accounted for in our metrics, and that’s something that we need to look at. Our metrics were designed to look at the exposure of a piece of communication on a certain timeline, but we don’t necessarily measure the activities associated with that communication. For example, someone may watch an advert on social media from beginning to end, and then comment on it, share it and engage with it. Our measurements and metrics need to consider the nuanced difference between all of these different forms of engagement.

How would you explain marketing relevance now?

Being relevant has become the golden needle that knits together what is going on in consumers’ lives. It’s about how we create our brand with them in mind and how we connect that with what it stands for. Without this golden needle, we will lose our stand – in the minds and hearts of people, and ultimately in the market.

The Nedbank IMC takes place virtually on July 29, 2022, in association with the Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA). Book now at Virtual tickets are R1,999 (exclu VAT) and there are discounts for groups. Nedbank IMC 2022 bursaries are also available at



Main image credit: Supplied.


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