• Interview

"Today, having a strong digital strategy is essential. The challenge is to be able to stand out in terms of image and collaboration strategy."

An Interview with Julie Morton and Yahya Ennouari — Experts in digital strategy

11 April 2022

Julie Morton trained in international management and digital strategy, and now works with SMEs, entrepreneurs and artists to perfect their business model and communication plan.

Yahya Ennouari started his career in an agency in Paris where he worked on digitalization issues, digital ecosystem redesign, digital advertising campaigns, product launch strategies for luxury and premium brands. His motto is "Consistency over Intensity"! MAD had a talk with Julie Morton and Yahya Ennouari. 

"The most critical issue is to know your target and to respect them. The more content you produce, the greater the risk of error. It is essential to know how to balance communication and try to meet the needs of your target."

Yahya Ennouari

Julie Morton

You both work on the development of digital strategies, among other things. Tell us about your background?

Julie 
After graduating with a master's degree in international business in Brussels, I began my professional career at MAD. I got inspired and learned all the tricks of a designer's trade, keeping an eye on business and strategy. Coaching and supporting brands and entrepreneurs made me want to start my own business. At the age of 24 I created 'Story to Line', with my former business associate, a unique service, to facilitate the export of European labels to the Asian markets on mainly digital sales platforms. We acted as an intermediary between European labels, with support on their logistic, communication, press, media etc. and partners in Asia. Following logistical issues, I stepped aside to work in various start-ups, mainly in the art and design sectors. In the roles of project and communication manager.
Today I am developing my own creative studio combining my digital strategy coaching activity in the creative sectors with my passion for electronic music: Djing and production.

Yahya 
After graduating from high school in Morocco, I landed in Montpellier, France, for a degree in management. Afterwards I started a master in brand strategy and a master in luxury marketing communication in Paris. Which led to a career of about 10 years in agencies.
First for the agency Same same but different, specialized in the export of European luxury brands and houses to Asia, mainly China. We provided support for product launches in this market, knowledge of the Chinese digital ecosystem, how to adapt to the use of wechat. Later, for the Publicis agency in Paris, I worked on more structured accounts, such as Sofitel of the Accor group, which we supported in changing their brand platform: an overhaul of their digital ecosystem, their social media presence, their CRM strategy.
Then I joined the European Commission's communication agency in Brussels before going freelance in January 2020. One of my first missions was to inject a bit of digital, to bring a strategic approach for the Bellerose brand. This mission became more permanent afterwards, I am now the interim Marketing Director. Today I also work for Bouclair or on tenders for Spotify among others, and more recently I am trying to launch an entrepreneurial project of upcycled clothes.

 

Both specialized in the creative industries (fashion, luxury, music, design etc.), what are the challenges of tomorrow related to digital?

Julie 
Today, having a strong digital strategy is essential. Never before has the number of brands, people and start-ups active on social networks been so high. It is obviously important to offer nice pictures and high-quality content, but the challenge nowadays is to be able to stand out in terms of image and collaboration strategy. Every company must be able to produce attractive and inspirational content on a regular basis to satisfy the thirst for novelty among active users.
The challenge for every company is to find the perfect balance between organic growth and established sponsored campaigns, while constantly aiming to optimize the conversion rate.
Engaging with your future community is all about physical interaction, whether it's collaboration or brand activation. Today, experiences are becoming more and more important. Therefore both physical AND digital experiences are quite important in my opinion.

Yahya 
The focus on detail has changed for brands, in the past we used to create a beautiful image, a beautiful garment and that was it. Today, with social networks, brands are constantly combed through, everything can be criticized. You have to carefully consider the content you create, and be strategic if you want to talk about the societal changes we are facing today, for example.
In my opinion, one of the challenges of digital is not only to create content for the sake of creating content, existing without purpose, you have to manage. In other words, don’t be on each platform if you are not familiar with the codes or the uses. Secondly,
 the most critical issue is to know your target and to respect them. The more content you produce, the greater the risk of error. It is essential to know how to balance communication and try to meet the needs of your target.

"Today, brands need to "personify" their image to generate engaging content and put the user at the centre of attention."

Julie Morton

Yahya Ennouari

Today it is necessary to know how to tell stories and to get out of strategies only focused on the product, what would be your advice to generate a qualitative content and create a loyal community? 

Julie
First of all, I would say that the word storytelling is no longer a suitable term in 2022. Content has really changed, it is much shorter, much more reactive. We must remember the fundamental of social networks, historically created to communicate, exchange with friends and family, and then adopted by brands, which now use them as a commercial tool. 
The average user tends to rely on the functionality of identification, most of them following the accounts of people they know (friends, family) or with whom they identify (influencers, bloggers, artists of all kinds). This leaves little room for brands and companies, hence the importance of a collaborative strategy. Today, brands need to "personify" their image to generate engaging content and put the user at the centre of attention. The value of the product itself loses all meaning here, the image or transformation that it provides takes precedence in the eyes of the user.

Yahya 
Term ‘Stroytelling’ used to work well in advertising, but with social networks you have to tell a story more succinctly. Brands have to find ways to engage people, sometimes even before they have launched their product, by being transparent, by personifying the brand, the consumer identifies with it. But being transparent has its limits, as today everything can be checked and commented on. Mostly it is important to be upright in what you do. It always comes back to respecting the target. When a customer is unhappy, you must respond. Finally, many brands try to have a huge community on social media, but having 250,000 followers if you don't have a significant increase in sales or engagement is not worth it. Digital has allowed brands to gain new customers, the challenge today is to build a global approach for your community to be engaged and interact and not only made up of "fans" but also customers.

 

Today, should a fashion brand or a design label be on tiktok? How to adapt to this new medium?

Julie 
To create a buzz on social networks and especially on TikTok, you need to generate an emotion (laughter, sadness, or present something "useful" that teaches things). Videos should be short and to the point, easy to understand at first glance. Video editing attracts attention by linking visual and audio transitions to give a new dimension that was not present in other social networks. It is also a platform that is not expensive because sponsorship is not yet as developed as with competitors.
Each brand can take over the app today, targeting a specific audience. Not only 15years old are on TikTok, but many other age groups are also using it. However, the most important rule for engagement is regularity. It is required to post very often, and much more than on Meta networks, as the algorithm here favors very active accounts. This network allows rapid organic growth, but every company today must know how to concentrate its efforts where it matters, without doing it half-way. A company that has limited time should focus on the networks they’re already on and improve its content among its core target audience. Ideally for me a brand should be on TikTok today but only if it has the resources. Ideally for me a brand should be on TikTok today but only if they has the resources.

 

Is it important for a young brand to invest in e-commerce?

Yahya 
I agree with Julie on the importance of a platform like TikTok. There is always added value in being active on it, for example even a brand that sells sofas can be present on tiktok by offering DIY content 'how to clean a stain on your sofa'. 
We've talked a lot about social networks communication, but we must take into account e-commerce as well. It's very important to always link to a platform where your product is sold and showcased, whether it's online or physical. You can't cut out from having a digital presence anymore. If the brand chooses not to have an e-Commerce, it must nevertheless have a promise, a product presentation, a brand presence, with a showcase site or a collection/product presentation on social networks for instance. Today, thanks to platforms like Shopify, you can launch a website without having too many set-up costs.

 

"Digital has allowed brands to gain new customers, the challenge is to build a global approach for your community to be engaged and interact and not only made up of "fans" but also customers."

Yahya Ennouari