From English & French Studies to Brand Communication Manager | with Esther Felix

Esther ​is ​a ​brand ​and ​marketing ​communication ​manager ​and ​the ​founder ​of ​The Creators’ CommYOUnity, ​where ​she ​helps ​young ​creators ​with ​brand ​clarity. Over ​the ​years, ​Esther ​has ​worked ​with ​brands ​like ​Nestuge, Zikel ​Cosmetics, ​Yellowlyfe ​Travels, Nerd ​Operations, ​and ​many ​more.

In this interview, she shares her career’s origin story, role of storytelling and consistency in brand communication, career lessons, and much more.

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How ​did ​the ​journey ​in ​brand ​communications ​begin?

Growing up, while going to Church with my dad, ​I ​was ​deeply ​fascinated ​by ​the ​big ​billboards ​from ​Cadbury and Coca-Cola. ​They ​were ​the ​big ​guys ​in ​the ​industry ​then. 

​I ​would ​see ​those ​billboards ​and ​how ​they ​make ​the ​product ​look ​exciting, ​and ​I ​would ​think ​of ​how ​it ​would ​be ​better, ​“What ​if ​that ​was ​supposed ​to ​be ​italicized?” ​That ​built ​my ​interest ​in ​advertising.

​But ​I ​didn’t ​follow ​through ​with ​advertising ​because ​​there’s ​this ​stigma ​that ​we ​don’t ​like ​to ​talk ​about ​with ​mass ​communications ​and ​ladies ​that tow that path.

Anyway, ​I ​started ​out ​with ​English, ​and ​I ​think ​in ​2017, ​my ​best ​friend ​at ​the ​time ​would ​tell ​me, “Hey, ​what’s ​up? There’s ​this ​brand ​looking ​for ​a ​social ​media ​manager.” 

He ​didn’t ​even ​call ​the role ​social ​media ​management. ​He ​just ​said I would handle the ​socials ​and ​post captions. The pay was N20,000.

Esther Felix Brand Communication Manager

Was that ​your ​first ​job ​in ​marketing?

That was actually ​my ​first corporate job. ​So, ​I ​eventually became ​the social ​media ​manager ​for ​this ​brand. ​I ​didn’t ​even ​know ​it ​was ​called ​Social ​Media ​Management at that point. My ​offer ​letter did ​not ​also ​say ​that ​it ​was ​social ​media ​management.

Later on, I ​learned ​more ​about ​what ​I ​was ​doing ​and ​understood ​that it was ​social ​media ​management. My ​love ​for ​research helped me ​to ​understand ​the ​intricacies ​of ​social ​media ​management.

As the year rolled by, ​I gained a lot of knowledge and ​started ​explaining ​to ​people that social media management isn’t random, and ​soon, ​I ​started ​doing ​social ​media ​strategy, ​which ​is ​still ​the ​love ​of ​my ​life ​ ​now. 

​So, ​I ​moved ​from ​being ​a ​social ​media ​manager, ​or ​rather ​a ​caption ​writer ​for ​social ​media ​managers, ​to ​a social ​media ​strategist. Then, ​I ​worked ​in ​an ​advertising ​firm ​for ​a ​couple ​of ​months ​as ​a ​content ​creator, and ​I ​was ​that ​video ​girl doing ​vox ​pop, ​interview ​sessions, ​and ​presentations ​because ​I ​love ​to ​talk. 

Later, ​I ​fell ​in ​love ​with ​branding and started thinking, “​How ​can ​we ​mix ​branding ​and ​social ​media, ​branding ​strategy​, and ​all ​of ​that?” ​

Throughout this period, I was ​​a brand ​ambassador ​for a ​beauty ​and ​skincare ​brand. ​Then, ​I ​moved ​up ​​to ​a ​brand ​liaison, where ​I ​helped ​distributors ​understand ​the ​product ​better ​in ​the ​eastern ​part ​of ​Nigeria. 

I ​gained ​momentum in understanding ​how ​brands, PR, and ​corporates ​work. It was at that moment that ​I ​understood ​that ​I ​wasn’t ​going ​to ​work ​for ​SMEs because I ​loved the corporate world and ​the ​trail ​of ​their marketing ​pipelines.

In ​2021, ​I ​decided ​to get ​a ​marketing ​degree from ​the ​Chartered ​Institute ​of ​Marketing, ​UK. And here I am.

What ​​is ​brand and marketing ​communications? ​What ​does it ​entail?

Essentially, as ​a ​brand and marketing ​communication ​manager, I’m ​responsible ​for ​leading ​the ​communications ​team. 

​So, think ​of internal ​communications, ​external ​communications, advertisements, ​point ​of ​sale, ​partnerships, ​relationships, and ​marketing ​after ​sales.

A collage image of Esther Felix giving a training
Esther Felix giving a training on using social media as a leverage for growth

​I’m responsible for ​thinking ​about ​the ​partnerships ​that ​make ​the ​most ​sense ​for ​the ​brand. I ​collaborate ​or reach ​out ​to ​these ​partners ​and ​establish ​structures ​that ​benefit ​both ​brands. ​

For instance, ​if ​you’re hosting an event and ​want ​10,000 ​users ​after it, you think of ​how ​​to ​reach ​that number with ​the ​partnerships ​in ​view ​and ​the ​venue you’re ​going ​to ​use.

I ​like ​to ​think ​that ​the ​brand ​communication manager ​can ​be ​anything ​at ​any ​time. ​You ​could ​be ​an ​event ​manager ​all ​of ​a ​sudden (​if ​you ​are ​in ​that ​industry) or ​a ​point-of-sales person. ​

If ​you ​meet ​a ​brand ​communication manager ​at ​a ​tech ​conference, ​we ​are ​the ​ones who ​would ​break ​down ​the ​product ​on how ​you ​can ​use ​it ​as ​a ​business, ​as ​a ​brand, ​or as an individual. ​

Basically, ​you’re ​supposed ​to ​understand ​the ​brand ​like ​the ​mark ​on ​your ​palm ​and ​communicate ​it ​as ​the ​person ​needs ​it – a solution to their problems. So, ​if ​you’re ​thinking ​of ​becoming ​a ​brand ​communications manager, ​you ​would ​obviously ​have ​to ​understand ​leveraging ​relationships, ​communicating, and ​breaking ​down ​the ​most ​difficult ​conversations ​to ​the ​barest ​minimum.

What role does storytelling play in brand communication?

Storytelling ​is ​everything ​you ​need ​in ​marketing. From ​point ​A ​to ​Z, there ​has ​to ​be ​a ​connection. Why ​is B-C-D-E-F ​before ​G-H-I?

Everything ​we ​do ​on ​social ​media ​is ​actually ​storytelling. For instance, if you take a selfie and make a post, ​what’s ​your ​goal ​for ​that ​post ​as ​an ​individual? ​What’s ​the ​goal? 

The ​only ​people ​who ​can ​relate ​to ​that ​image ​other ​than ​” Oh, ​that’s ​a ​fine ​woman” ​are ​the ​people ​who ​already ​know ​me. They know me because ​I’ve ​created ​a ​pattern ​in ​their ​head ​that ​builds ​a ​story. 

​So​, you ​have ​to ​build ​patterns ​to ​tell ​great ​stories, ​and ​great ​stories ​have ​a ​beginning ​and ​almost ​no ​end. I like to think of it as a ​continuous ​system. 

When ​you ​tell ​great ​stories, ​you ​are ​so ​roped ​in ​that ​I ​could ​use ​a ​thought ​pattern ​from ​the ​previous ​conversation ​to ​leverage ​​a new ​one. A smart brand uses storytelling to tell its story in the ​most ​likable ​and ​most ​relatable ​way.

How ​do ​you ​ensure ​consistent ​messaging ​and ​tone ​across ​different ​marketing ​channels ​for ​your ​brand?

Embodying ​a ​personality! ​If ​you ​want ​one ​person ​telling ​a ​story, ​it’s ​easier.​ You ​could ​switch ​on ​and ​off ​a ​character. 

​I’ll ​start ​from ​a ​team ​perspective. When ​you ​have ​different ​people ​on ​a ​team, ​you ​need ​them ​to ​understand the ​why ​and ​you ​also need ​them ​to ​become ​a ​part ​of ​the ​character. ​

Podcast banner image of Esther Felix, brand and marketing communications manager

For ​instance, ​I ​had ​a ​friend ​tell ​me that they ​saw a ​video from a brand I’m working with, and they could tell I didn’t create it because the ​”videos ​are ​not ​videoing.”

That’s ​supposed ​to ​be ​a ​compliment, but ​I ​didn’t ​take ​it ​as such ​because ​it ​meant ​that ​I ​had ​a ​team ​structure ​problem. ​It ​meant ​that ​they ​were ​not ​telling ​the ​same ​stories ​that ​I ​was ​going ​to ​tell. ​

If there’s a gap in your brand communication, ​you ​could ​get ​great ​acquisition but have low ​retention. Besides ​the ​fact ​that ​your ​product ​may ​be ​bad ​in ​itself, great ​communication helps to keep ​a ​user. 

There’s a meme of a ​product ​marketer, ​a product ​manager, and a ​developer. The ​product ​marketer ​says, “We ​have ​a cashback ​feature,” ​or ​something ​like ​that. ​The ​product ​manager ​says, “We ​are ​going ​to ​implement ​a cashback ​feature.” But ​the ​developer ​is confused. “Do we ​have ​a ​cashback ​feature? Am I ​supposed ​to ​develop ​that? ​I ​didn’t ​know ​that.”

Check ​any ​brand ​you ​really ​love ​right ​now. ​It’s ​not ​their ​products ​that ​you ​love. ​You ​might ​like ​the ​functionality ​of ​the ​product. The ​experience ​that ​has ​been ​communicated ​from ​top ​to bottom ​is ​usually the main reason, and ​I ​think ​that’s ​the primary role ​of ​the ​brand ​communications ​person ​in ​any ​company.

How ​do ​you ​think ​the ​marketing ​industry ​will ​evolve ​over ​the ​next ​five ​to ​ten ​years?

There’ll ​be ​a ​lot ​of ​AI tools. But ​I ​think ​after ​five ​years, ​or ​before ​the ​end ​of ​five ​years, ​there ​will ​be ​a ​drop ​in ​AI tools ​as ​well because ​you ​need ​human ​touch ​and humanness.

That’s ​the ​essence ​of ​marketing. If you don’t have that as a brand, customers will drift towards people who can communicate better.

What ​is ​a ​marketing ​trend ​that ​is here ​to ​stay? ​And ​what ​is ​another ​that ​you ​think ​is ​overrated?

Storytelling is here to stay.

Growth marketing for the second.

Why growth marketing?

I’ve ​not ​been ​a ​fan ​of ​one ​person ​doing multiple ​roles. ​I’ve ​also ​not ​been ​a ​fan ​of ​duplicating ​roles. ​​If ​you ​have ​a ​marketing ​manager ​with ​quite ​the ​experience ​in ​your ​company, ​you ​do ​not ​need ​a ​growth ​marketer. 

We ​like ​fancy ​words a lot ​in ​marketing. ​So, ​maybe ​that’s the ​thing – ​the ​fancifulness ​of ​those ​words. ​But ​in ​an actual ​sense, ​I ​don’t ​think ​that ​anybody ​should ​have ​duplicated ​roles ​in ​your ​company.

I ​think ​it’s ​good ​to ​note ​that ​the ​primary ​responsibility ​of ​any ​marketer ​in ​your ​company is acquisition, ​retention​, and ​growth. So​, if ​you ​have ​an ​acquisition ​manager, ​it ​makes ​a ​lot ​of ​sense. Retention ​manager ​also makes ​a ​lot ​of ​sense ​if ​you ​have ​the ​facilities ​and ​resources. 

​But ​hiring ​a ​growth ​marketer ​just ​because ​you ​expect ​growth ​is like hiring a growth growth. 

A marketing manager’s role is 

  • to ​promote ​products ​and ​services
  • develop ​and ​implement ​marketing ​and ​pricing ​strategies, ​plans​, and ​projects, 
  • ​conduct ​marketing ​research ​and ​analysis ​of ​customers’ ​needs and ​industry ​trends, ​
  • generate ​new ​business ​leads, ​
  • oversee the ​marketing ​department ​staff and ​marketing ​budget, ​
  • and ensure ​brand ​identity. 

As ​a ​marketing ​manager, ​you ​should ​have ​the ​skill ​sets ​to ​be ​able ​to ​do these responsibilities ​and ​train ​your ​team ​members ​to ​replicate them. 

So, ​if ​you ​are ​saying ​that ​you ​need ​a ​growth ​marketer, ​what ​exactly ​would ​the ​growth ​marketer ​do ​differently ​from ​developing ​and ​implementing ​marketing ​strategies, ​which ​is ​the role ​of ​your ​marketing ​manager?

Your ​growth ​marketer is your marketing manager.

If ​you ​could ​go ​back ​in ​time to ​give ​your ​younger ​self a ​piece ​of ​marketing ​advice, ​what ​would ​it ​be?

Have a mentor, document your process, and go for more events. The last one is personal.

Documenting ​your ​process, ​as ​little ​as ​it ​is, gives ​for ​thankfulness, especially in your days of drought. You can see ​how ​much you’ve actually grown.

Looking ​back, ​what ​mistakes ​did ​you ​make ​along ​your ​career ​journey ​and ​what ​lessons ​did ​you ​learn ​from ​them?

Procrastinating! You know you can do it in under 6 hours, but you will wait till the ​week ​is ​over before doing it.

At some ​point, ​I ​stopped ​reading ​and ​researching ​because ​I ​was ​too ​confident. ​And ​that played ​a ​terrible ​role. ​So, ​yeah, ​I ​do ​regret ​that.

Where ​do ​you ​see ​yourself in the near future for ​your ​career? ​What ​is ​the ​next ​step ​for ​thetopaz​brand?

I’ll ​be ​doing ​a ​lot ​of ​collaborations ​and ​teaching ​a ​lot. I also ​have ​a ​course ​coming ​up ​on ​brand ​communications. 

It will ​be ​a ​video ​course and ​give ​you ​a ​breakdown ​of how ​to ​build a career  ​in ​brand ​communications. ​It’s ​quite ​an ​investment ​of ​what ​you ​need ​to ​know.

What ​tools do ​you ​use ​as ​part ​of ​your ​brand communication workflow?

  • ​I ​love the benefits of HubSpot. ​It’s ​a ​hub ​for ​a ​lot ​of ​information.
  • ​I’m ​Google’s ​best ​friend. ​I ​search ​for the ​weirdest ​and ​the ​most ​unimportant ​things ​or ​things ​that ​don’t ​make ​sense, but ​I’m ​trying ​to ​make ​them ​make ​sense. ​​I ​think ​that ​Google ​is ​great ​for ​learning ​behavioral ​patterns. ​
  • I use Sendgrid for ​automation ​with ​emails. You could also use it for your ​drip ​campaigns.
  • I love Capcut for editing videos and adding captions.
  • I use Adobe ​Studio ​for ​voice ​recordings.
  • I use existing Google tools – Google Docs, Sheets, Slide, and the like.

Where ​can ​we ​go ​to ​know ​more ​about ​Esther Felix?

I’m “thetopazbrand” on any social media page.