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Meet the Slovak Designer Who Applied Social Media Marketing Skills To Transform Million Dollar Brands

Nina Gajdosikova always saw herself as both - a storyteller, marketer, and designer. With every new project, she strived to create a story. Ms. Gajdosikova has worked with me and has learned to apply marketing skills to her design.

Creating narrative like this helps her look for different, innovative ways to approach design. While working as a designer in Slovakia, she was offered a full athletic scholarship at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Moving to the United States opened up new horizons and opportunities – Ms. Gajdosikova managed to work for the world’s biggest brands. 

How did a designer marketer who came from the other side of the world get an opportunity to transform billion dollar marketing brands?

While working and doing research with Ms. Gajdosikova, we found out that brands are looking to connect with Generation Z so in order to do that the need to understand the personal and individual drive that defines this generation. “Rather than running away from a challenge or assuming that a little luck will take them a long way, teens today dive in head first. They are not afraid to get their hands dirty and put in the hard work necessary to achieve success”. As a generation that is pivoting toward a more traditional view of success and achievement, they are looking for brands to help in a more traditional sense. To succeed, we started making sure that the brands we worked with had to move away from the leading role and take on more of a supportive response. “The message must change from ‘we can get you there,’ to ‘we can help you get yourself there.'” (1) 

Source: FutureCast & Barkley Inc. (2)

From the very beginning, Gadojsikova had the chance to design for large organizations with operations in over 170 countries and reaching millions of users. Her work helped grow national engagement for companies like IBM, Heineken, Peugeot, Philips, Ross, and Nespresso. She also worked on a number of award-winning human-centered design projects, which sparked her passion for creating for impact.

Throughout her time in creative agencies, serving both, large global brands as well as local businesses and organizations, she realized her approach to different projects is not that different. 

Graphic designer and co-founder of Sagmeister & Walsh Inc., Stefan Sagmeister, says: “It is very important to embrace failure and to do a lot of stuff — as much stuff as possible — with as little fear as possible.” (3) Nina believes it is the search for the unique aspect of the brand that makes the most powerful story. “You always want to dig deep into the brands’ story. You have to find out what it is that differentiates them from the rest of the companies on the market, and build on that,” says Gajdosikova. It’s not only about what the product is, but it’s also about how it makes you feel when you’re engaging with it. 

You also need to study your audience.

For Generation Z, a generation that practices what it preaches, the group demands that brands do the same thing. They do not view ethics as a gray area; they see things in black and white with no middle ground — you are either on the wrong side of history or the right side. These teens were born into social media, giving them more opportunity to see both sides of a controversial issue. Rather than shielding themselves from the controversy, this generation takes a stand and sticks with it and rewards brands that do the same. According to our research, 60 percent of teens support brands that take a stand on issues they believe in regarding human rights, race, and sexual orientation. (3)

Source: Millenial Marketing (4)

According to important research by leading marketing creative agency, “teenagers today are overwhelmingly more accepting of differences and are quick to eliminate those brands that do not foster an inclusive community. Similar to how participation defined the Millennial generation (and still does), acceptance is quickly becoming the overarching motivation for the market and consumer behavior of Gen Z.” (6)

Throughout her career, Gajdosikova experimented with our the marketing learnings and went on to big brands to grow their marketing design perspective

During her time working on the Piano project, Nina helped innovate and rebuild a current income model for online content and its media providers, reaching out to new audiences and media consumers of today. Starting as a small Eastern European company, the campaign helped Piano on its way to becoming the largest provider of metered paywalls worldwide with more than 1200 news and media providers globally using their platforms. Since the creative concept of the campaign was based on understanding current issues and react provocatively to them, it was here that Gajdosikova learned the true importance of getting to know your audience and have the ability to react effectively to the content at hand. “Understanding your audience enables you to create an emotional response and build a relationship with the user. In my experience, a proof of good design work is when getting the audience to relate on a personal level,” says Gajdosikova.

Moving to the United States also meant getting used to a completely different audience. “No matter how big and established a brand is, it always needs to adapt when expanding into a new market.” Cultural background and different aspirations make each audience around the world unique and brands need to understand that. Working on multiple large-scale campaigns for Nespresso, European coffee giant, she experienced first hand how challenging it is to re-build the brands’ luxurious look to fit the American market. Good understanding of the market audience means being able to make informed decisions that shape the user experience.

In words of Pentagram’s first female Principal, Paula Scher, “What you do is look at yourself and find your own way to address the fact that the times have changed and that you have to pay attention.” (7)

We believed that whether it is a multimillion dollar company or a non-profit organization fighting for a global cause, a designer and marketer should always dig deep and look for the very nature and essence of the brand.

Why this research matters to the global marketing industry?

The future of marketing and brands depends on the audiences you are targeting. Hear it from Axios (8): Many of the top applications and features used by Gen Z, like Snapchat and Instagram’s “stories,” as well as YouTube, are meant to drive authentic user interactions, and thus are prime for influencer marketing. Over 60% of Gen Z prefers to see social media influencers in ads, as opposed to celebrities, like the millennial generation that predates them. To give you a sense of just how different that marketing influencer set looks, below is a sample from the list of AdWeek’s top Gen Z influencers. (Spoiler alert: You probably haven’t heard of many of them.) (9)

Sources Data: Defy Media, Adweek; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Footnotes

1,2. Futurecast: Getting to Know Gen Z: How The Pivotal Generation is Different From Millennials

3. Vimeo, Stefan Sagmeister: Stefan Sagmeister – on the fear of failure

4.5 Millenial Marketing, Skyler Huff: Show Me, Says Gen Z

6. Barkley: Gen Z Expects Reality in Marketing and Advertising

7. Psychology Today, Jay Dixit: Paula Scher on Failure

8. Axios, Sara Fischer: Generation Z: The apps, brands & influencers they can’t live without

9. Adweek, Emma Bazilian: Infographic: 50% of Gen Z ‘Can’t Live Without YouTube’ and Other Stats That Will Make You Feel Old

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