brainstorm | Setting standards

Ensuring brand uniformity and accuracy in the digital world.

When Paula Sartini arrives for our interview, I’m momentarily taken aback. She’s wearing a little black dress with a lace overlay and elaborate fluff around the neckline, and killer heels perfect for dancing the tango.

She’s certainly turning heads on a sweaty Joburg morning. Then her make-up artist steps in and moves her hair a fraction so she’s picture-perfect.

It feels like overkill for a friendly chat in a café, but Sartini is the founder and CEO of BrandQuantum, and this time, the brand she’s promoting is herself. Smart marketing indeed. If you can’t make your own brand look good, how can you be trusted with the brands of your customers?

“Brands are built on trust. If you can’t even get your logo right, how can I trust the services you’re offering because it looks like you don’t know what you’re doing?”

Sartini looks gloriously exotic too, and tells me her parents are Argentinian. She’s fluent in Spanish and that Latin speaking style makes her conversation fast-paced and passionate.

A varied background has given her skills in marketing, accounting and art, and she learned coding as a kid when her engineer father brought home an Apple computer and helped her create a game where she calculated the profit on selling lemonade. “I learned the logic of programming, even though I just wanted to play with my dolls because I was really girly. But I’m very grateful now because that logical brain kicked in,” she says. “I’m not an engineer, but I’m very logical and I love statistics, accounting and numbers.”

All her skills have now combined in BrandQuantum, a business she launched in 2014 to help companies protect and promote their brands by making their communications consistent and secure.

She talks about gorgeous fonts and typefaces, and how you can spoil her beautiful design work on a logo by squashing and distorting it. It sounds a little precious, but she explains it well. “Brands are built on trust. If you can’t even get your logo right, how can I trust the services you’re offering because it looks like you don’t know what you’re doing? Maybe you’ll send me the wrong terms and conditions or the wrong information if you can’t get the simple things right,” she says. “If you’re a bank and you write to me in Comic Sans, I wonder if I can really trust you, because what you’re showing me isn’t very believable. It could be the difference between getting the business and losing it if you can’t even maintain your brand.”

Automate the process

The BrandQuantum solution is based on software that was developed for her previous business when she was helping companies take their IT products to market. After about 150 projects, she realised it would be useful to have some software to take what she had learned and automate the process. “The work is quite analytical to determine if there’s a market opportunity. You look at the market factors and the offering, and put all the numbers into the software. Then the process is based on numbers, and not just the egos around the table.”

“One of our big shifts was in our own thinking about what we are, and now we know we’re a software company.”  

When clients call in BrandQuantum, they usually start by wanting tamperproof email signatures and letterheads to help avoid phishing scams and fraudulent communications. As part of the consulting process, Sartini monitors all the communications being sent out, and assesses the logos, advertising material and other corporate collateral.

Then the team can create consistency across all the documentation and store approved, up-to-date versions in a central repository in the cloud. The BrandOffice and BrandMail software give the employees instant access to these standardised communications, and if something needs to be changed or updated, it can be done overnight and the old material will disappear. This uniformity also helps companies meet the compliance, legal and risk management aspects of doing business.

Giving people instant access to the correct logos, letterheads and forms automates those tasks, eliminating errors that come from having old versions hanging around in the system. It also gives them more time to do strategic things like use their judgement and initiative to add a personal touch to their communications. The aim isn’t to stifle personal contact by making people rigidly adhere to corporate protocol, Sartini says.

Artificial intelligence

“Artificial intelligence and automation is where we want to go, but it must create opportunities to give us more time to talk to people because everyone wants an authentic relationship. One of the scarcest things is human attention,’ Sartini says. “We don’t shrink-wrap everything to where there’s no human intervention.”

In the past year, the IT side of her company has come to the fore, as clients adopting the products are now driving it through their IT departments as much as through the marketing side, and her team works with the client’s technicians to roll out the software and train them to support it.

“Our discussions have become more serious because we’re solving operational issues as well as brand issues. The CIOs are adopting it to solve their challenges and we have to dovetail into their systems. One of our big shifts was in our own thinking about what we are, and now we know we’re a software company.”

There doesn’t seem to be any international competition for what BrandQuantum offers, and Sartini believes the company can win business globally. New York State University could soon become a client, as it’s in discussions to implement the software to manage its brand across all departments and faculties. BrandQuantum has already started to go international on the back of clients with foreign operations, and New York State University would be an important win.

“We can take this South African software international,” Sartini says.


Original Article on brainstorm
by LESLEY STONES

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