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Toyin Henry-Ajayi

Toyin Henry-Ajayi

Toyin Henry-Ajayi - the spark youth empowerment platforms in Nigeria

One of the central figures pulling the marketing strings on the Access Bank merger since 2018 is Toyin Henry-Ajayi, the Head of Advertising at Access Bank. We pulled her from behind the curtain to share a few words on her career journey, marketing, and the big merger.


Journey into Marketing

It surprises many to know that I come from a core science background. I am a Veterinary Doctor by training and I practiced for a year before taking a job in the bank. And from that point, product management, marketing, and advertising have been my life careerwise.

What has really helped is my focus on learning. Moving into marketing which is largely commercial and artistic was a major shift. It was interesting but there was a lot to learn. Switching careers for anyone can be demanding.

You’ve got to constantly take courses to improve yourself. Research and analyze case studies. Be a member of professional bodies in your field. Test new techniques and take calculated risks. It’s been fun for me.


Branding and Marketing in Access Bank

To be a part of a dream as big and as audacious as Access Bank is one of those things you call a blessing wrapped in serious work overalls.

It demands the most of you and goes on to reward you with that sweet feeling of fulfillment. I have had my shares of lows.

You know those moments when you leave the office thinking you’ll quit the next day. (Laughs) But that’s the beauty of being a warrior as we say.

You get a good night’s rest and come back to find you’re the solution to the problem you thought would break you.

Something that helps is the philosophy of never quitting that the bank has imbibed in all her staff. In addition to that is the culture of innovation.

This has allowed us in the Marketing and Communications department to try out things that would otherwise have been turned down at inception.

We have remarkable creative agencies that bring our ideas and dreams to life. I also have a great boss and a wonderful team that make coming to work a delight.

All in all, I look back with gratitude and a deep sense of fulfillment at all I’ve achieved with my team over the years.


Factors to Ensure Total Recall

Although it is used as a formula for creating viral content, the Jonah Berger 6 STEPPS for virality is always a good reference point when preparing a campaign.

You should understand that this is about people, other people who have to live their own lives and have their own distinct desires.

Your goal is to connect with them in a way that they see your product, service, or cause as a required part of their lives.

But before the creation process, and core to your success is a proper definition of your objectives. You also need to be clear about your message and its communication.

What do you want people to do based on the advert you are putting out? Have a clear call to action, be concise and don’t overwhelm your audience.


Successful Campaigns

We’ve had a couple of campaigns I’ll always cherish. Apart from the merger, the most successful for me would be the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon and the recent AFF Disrupt campaign.

We have been sponsoring the marathon for the past 4 years and choose to because it closely aligns with our key values such as leadership, excellence, passion for customers, innovation.

In addition, the marathon seeks to elevate the City of Lagos as a leading marathon destination in Africa, and sustainable & healthy living among Lagosians and Nigerians as a whole.

The marathon now has the IAAF Silver label, witnessing over 178,000 registered local and international runners in 2019.

As for the AFF Disrupt 2019, the vision for this event was to bring together global technology companies, corporates, industry leaders, government, venture capitalists, tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and start-ups in the AgriTech, FinTech, InsurTech, and EdTech space to discuss emergent trends, as well as current issues and to proffer solutions which will chart the course for a new era of technological disruption in Africa.

And we did just that, pulling in thousands of tech enthusiasts and business professionals.

To me, the success of a campaign goes beyond the creative materials or the uniqueness of the strategies deployed. It’s about how we use these elements, as a team, to achieve the overall goals of the company. Our key performance indicator revolves around conversions; this helps us hit our awareness and consideration goals.


Communicating the Merger

The main goal for communicating the merger was to control the narrative and ensure that our customers and the general public heard the facts of the entire process from us. We’ve handled mergers before and have also witnessed a few more from other brands.

It is easy for false information to get a life of their own and become what people peddle as the truth. Our goal was clear – to let the world know that these two great banks were coming together to deliver more.

One key feature of the entire campaign, which is still ongoing, is managing questions from our customers.

People want information about the brand. It’s best when it comes from us through whatever source we have determined to be viable.


Challenges Communicating the Merger

The big challenge, of course, was misconceptions and curbing rumors. In a bid to be the first person with information, it’s easy to share false or half-baked stories in this digital age.

Finding and quenching these before they become wildfire is a goal for us.

Beyond the false stories is also the presence of negative sentiments, misinformed or not, that we get to manage.


The inspiration behind the new logo

I’ve seen many artists come up with their own variations of what the new logo should have been. A few of them were impressive. We had a few options before choosing what we have now and good thinking went into the selection.

The new Access Bank logo communicates that in addition to being global, the bank is also youthful, vibrant and human.

It independently captures the strength of both entities of the merger. The diamonds are fused into the three chevrons which diverge around a core.

The trilogy signifies that the new entity maintains the three attributes of speed, service, and security, which guides the Access Bank’s vision “To be the world’s most respected African bank”.

It expresses superior service, broader societal purpose, and financial strength.

The new logo perfectly retains the core principles of Access Bank and Diamond Bank, subtly emphasizing that the bank has harnessed the best in order to be more and to provide stakeholders with much more than banking.


Editorial Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.

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