Staying on brand is what Onyinye Mbachu is all about. As a marketing enthusiast who has a passion for strategic brand management, she shares the highs and lows of her marketing career path so far.
I graduated from university with a medical degree, but I’ve always been a marketer at heart. While in school, I started exploring business and work opportunities that exposed me to the world of marketing and communications. I developed a passion for building brands and some years later, decided to pursue a career in strategic brand management. One of my greatest achievements so far is making the bold decision to step out of my comfort zone and explore this marketing career path. It’s humbling to start afresh and there’s always that fear of “What if it doesn’t work out?”But it has been working out and it has been one enjoyable ride so far!
Before my post-graduate studies at Seneca College, I worked in two communications agencies: one in Toronto and another back home in Nigeria. I’ve led communication programs that went on to win global awards and worked on brands such as Siemens, Chaka, Unilever (OMO), Remy Martin, Glenfiddich, and more. I’ve excelled in my marketing academic pursuits with a high GPA in my marketing management program, and now, I am a CMA NXT Brand Ambassador.
It has had its challenging bits, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Beginning again has helped me to get on the right path and now I’ve gained valuable work experience in my chosen field. Every milestone since that initial decision has been a win.
Moving to a new country is a big deal – even when we aren’t dealing with a global pandemic. It’s probably been one of the most challenging things I’ve had to do. Relocating in the fall, with so much uncertainty around travel, remote-work arrangements, and job security, the experience has felt like being in a pressure cooker. In the months that followed, I was mostly stuck indoors, working from my makeshift home office, and navigating a remote Canadian job search.
At some point, I moved to a town with no family and friends. The fact I had a caring and invested virtual support system was so helpful. I came to treasure the importance of maintaining a network of strong and supportive relationships, both personal and professional. It’s not so much the quantity, but the quality.
In the words of Gregory S. Williams,
On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin.
I had to accept the reality of my situation and then take it one day at a time. I learned to embrace peoples’ kindness and compassion and that it’s okay to take a break when need be. Through an adaptive and positive mindset, I built resilience, became more flexible and I’m stronger for it. Challenges are often part of the life cycle, and time and time again, when they arise, having a positive mindset goes a long way in helping to combat them.
Recently, my husband and I started an inside joke where he calls me ‘Brand CMO’, and now that I think about it, I do aspire to be a brand CMO one day - I mean, a girl has big dreams. It has always been my desire to devote my talents to the development of brands that can be promoted globally, and I firmly believe there’s no limit to what I can achieve.
I see myself working with a consumer product goods (CPG) industry leader in a brand management role. Yet I’m also growing to love the tech industry and the frontiers they unlock. It’s a competitive industry certainly and one in which I aim to work as a brand marketer. It would be an exciting challenge to develop and deliver high-impact strategies to creatively position a brand. Not to mention, help them confront problems as they expand into new markets and compete within the industry. Being able to nurture such brands to become trailblazers that stand the test of time is what excites me.
Sonic branding! This is not a new concept per se, but it is gaining popularity. For instance, Mastercard unveiled its sonic brand identity as part of its continued brand transformation to make the brand more recognizable across consumer touchpoints. This concept is interesting to me because while many brands may have a memorable and well-defined visual identity, very few brands have formed a sonic signature with the same level of attention and differentiation. I believe this is what Mastercard is trying to do.
What really stands out to me is that Mastercard set out on this path of sonic branding in response to the growing role of voice shopping and audio marketing. Now, they’re going beyond traditional logos to create a more robust brand identity that will strengthen their differentiation in the market and help maintain relevance in the time to come.
As young marketers enter the workforce, advancements such as this help to emphasize the importance of understanding how channels are evolving and the marketing tools needed to achieve it. Beyond the now, we also need to think about where the future of marketing is headed and then see how we can begin to translate those insights to help shape a brand’s architecture. In this ever-changing environment, this will enable marketers to optimize their brand presence and impact.
I am inspired daily by professionals who keep breaking the glass ceiling to reach new heights. Not so long ago, three of those success stories were featured on the Forbes ‘World’s Most Influential CMOs 2021’ list. They include the Netflix CMO, Bozoma Saint John, Global Head of Marketing, Peloton, Dara Treseder, and Global Chief Marketing Officer, Amazon Prime Video & Studios, Ukonwa Kuzi-Orizu Ojo.
They continue to inspire me because these are black women from Africa who are making their mark in the field of marketing on a global scale – it’s so exciting! It motivates me to keep pushing to be the best version of myself. A marketing career path allows me to do this and more!
As the semester winds down, you realize your professional image still needs work. If you’re wondering what to do next, maybe it’s time to start working on your brand.