Throw a stone in the Harare Central Business District and you are likely to hit a graphic designer or a print shop. In a world where branding and graphic design has become a commodity, branding expert Takemore Mazuruse (TM) has managed to make a name for himself in the industry as a modern day communications and public relations expert. His resume is impressive and his organisation called Esteem Communications, has bagged countless awards in public relations, advertising and marketing. For a company founded in 2007 and officially registered in 2014, this is no small feat. The man himself has won many prestigious business awards including Megafest and the CEO’s Network. I Leslie Mupeti (LM) had a chance to sit down with him and get to know what exactly makes him tick.
LM: Why did you go into branding and communications and how did you end up in this field?
TM: I love working with and through people hence branding and communication was a natural pick for me. Even in elementary school I was a good writer and communicator hence I found myself gravitating towards the branding and communications profession. I love people and I love brands and this explains how our fast growing agency Esteem Communications was birthed back in 2007 when I was a greenhorn in the media and communication space. I am glad the brand has grown to become a major player in the local advertising, marketing and public relations industry and the possibilities are many from here on.
LM: Esteem communications has become a powerhouse in the branding and communications space. Your company has racked up multiple accolades including the highly coveted Megafest awards. What was your unique recipe that you used to grow it to become the powerhouse it is today?
TM: For us it has always been about passion, excellence and probity. We use tailor-made and market tested strategies in growing and managing brands and that has worked wonders for us. We are not theoretical or bookish when it comes to our work and this has seen us rise above our competition. We infuse public relations, marketing and advertising skills together with unparalleled corporate and development communication acumen as taken from our experience working with brands across sectors. Esteem Communications can handle work for various clientele ranging from SMEs and blue chip companies, creatives and influencers as well as NGOs and development agencies with ease.
LM: You have handled successful campaigns for various brands from banks, corporates, mining industry players to local creatives and musicians. What is the secret behind all the success?
TM: We call ourselves the dream factory and we have a specific formula for every campaign. As a leading agency, we effectively utilise the media and communication tools at our disposal to communicate clearly packaged brand promotion and campaign messages. Clarity is key in all communication and equally important is understanding the sector specifics for every client. What works in advertising may not necessarily apply in development communication and that separation carries the day for us.
LM: Are there any icons in the branding space that you look up to?
TM: I wouldn’t want to name individuals or companies but it’s always encouraging when we rub shoulders with some of the players that were long in the industry before we joined. Some of their work I would emulate while in high school or college and walking up to podiums to collect awards in the same categories with them is humbling to say the least. It’s early days but we are confident of the future. We want more wins and milestones.
LM: What’s something that everyone in the branding and communications industry should start or stop doing?
TM: Every player in the branding and communications industry must be a good communicator and they must embrace dynamism. It’s important to reinvent in sync with obtaining trends so that we don’t remain behind.
The industry is evolving and we must embrace the new if we are to stay relevant.
LM: What’s the biggest challenge the industry is facing right now?
TM: We are operating in a generally challenging economic environment and advertising, marketing and communication is usually regarded peripheral when it comes to client priorities. It is, however, important that we continue reinventing and demonstrating the importance of our work through giving value to our clients.
The other challenge is that while multiplicity is key, there seems to be minimal regulation of the industry and this compromises on ethics and resultantly compromises public regard for the industry. Almost every content creator or influencer now regards themselves a branding and communication expert but the results are usually not convincing. The messaging is haphazard and the content lacks depth.
LM: In your opinion, what is the most important personality trait/strength someone would need to be successful in your job?
TM: Be a good communicator, espouse efficiency and always make sure every job is a stamp.
Once you invest that it’s easy to make sales and retain clients. Client retention is the key to growth.
LM: What do you think about the state of the branding industry in Zimbabwe? Are we making progress as a collective?
TM: There is progress, but I believe better days are coming. As the economy gets better and industry performs we are more likely to witness growth.
LM: Most young designers are doing freelance work and are facing the challenge of failing to build a business around their talent and scaling up. They have dreams of building an agency such as yours and employ teams to execute projects. What would be your advice in terms of how they can scale their business?
TM: Starting is never easy, but I believe with consistency and improved networking they will achieve their dreams.
Like Nelson Mandela said, it always seems impossible until it’s done. They must start where they are and be consistent enough to withstand the challenges. Quitters don’t win and indeed better days are coming.
LM: What’s your biggest failure and what did you learn from the experience?
TM: We don’t fail, we learn and I believe every experience prepares you for the best regardless of the negatives.
I have had instances when I felt discouraged but I believe experience has taught me better. The future is ours and we are grabbing here and now. We are confident of our work and our record speaks. Like we say in the industry, you either, Go Esteem or Go home.
LM: What do you wish your younger self knew about your current profession?
TM: I wish I had started believing in myself and in my abilities earlier. The call to go full time into branding and communication started long back, but I was procrastinating.
A full time job is a good start but for a natural like me it would have been more rewarding had I walked the Esteem Communications job earlier.
LM: What has fundamentally changed about your work from when you started until now?
TM: We are now more structured in terms of our work ethic and deliverables. We have the requisite experience to apply as informed by the needs of the client.
No job is too big or challenging for us and we are certainly ready and equipped for any task.
LM: If you could have coffee with any historical figure who would it be?
TM: I wouldn’t mind a sit down with Josiah Magama Tongogara. I hear he was a shrewd military strategist and strategy for me is the gateway to success.
LM: Are you a book person or a podcast person? And which 3 podcasts/books do you recommend for my audience?
TM: Every branding and communications practitioner must be a wide reader and researcher. While books are good, equally important is that you invest in researching on trends and tapping into all branding and communication content so that your learn from the experience of others. Have as many case studies as possible and that will help you grow even with minimal hand on experience.
LM: Where can readers find you online?
TM: I am available on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as Takemore Mazuruse.