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Brands must be heartfelt to make a real difference in people’s lives

When asked what his interests are, Sagar smiles and says “everything”.  He always strives to find the bigger context of how things connect, even the seemingly unrelated, which helps him solve problems for some of New Zealand’s biggest brands such as Farmers, Tourism Holdings, Frucor, Oji Fibre Solutions, formerly Carter Holt Harvey and O-I New Zealand.

Jonathan Sagar single-handedly held the reins at Voice in 2001 and has since grown the Auckland based agency to a team of 12 with revenue doubling in the past two years. His guiding philosophy is that in a world of sameness difference sells and brands must find clarity to get it right.

“Companies these days get wound up on internal complexities and lose sight of what they’re trying to deliver to the consumer. Only by delivering it right can a brand be heard and brand preference gained. That means getting clear on what you want to say and connecting authentically with consumers,” Jonathan Sagar says.

“Brand affinity comes from continually surprising and delighting people. Whether you like Apple or not, the company gets it right, every time,” he says. Sagar also praises Uber and Netflix for disrupting and executing their niche proposition. “There were problems in both markets and these companies solved that problem with solutions that actually work for consumers and in doing so, they achieved brand advocacy early on,” Sagar says.

Voice immerses itself in its clients businesses to solve problems, delivering brand and communication strategies for both internal and external audiences.

Carter Holt Harvey’s rebrand to Oji Fibre Solutions last year was large and complex. “Voice helped shape the brand story and ensured that our 1,800 staff were fully engaged enabling us to transform without leaving all that we valued behind,” says Oji Fibre Solutions HR Director Stephanie Mackie.

Voice has also recently created strategic pathways for O-I New Zealand, New Zealand’s only glass bottle and jar manufacturer, to help consumers understand the company’s offering. O-I New Zealand Business Sales Manager, Bayard Sinnema says excellent visibility has been the outcome of Voice’s approach. “Voice has helped us to extend brand into a future space enabling us to have conversations with new and existing businesses.

Voice is also working with Frucor on a strategic internal initiative to help clarify the group’s brand including developing its 2015 Yearbook aptly named ‘Taking a Bow’.

“Voice took a collaborative approach and delivered the thinking to help us understand exactly where we needed to go,” says Frucor Director Corporate Affairs and Communications, Bridget Beaurepaire

With 35 years industry experience behind him, Sagar doesn’t feel restricted by age. In fact, quite the opposite. He effortlessly mesmerises people of all ages with his vast knowledge of everything from travel to books, music, fashion, the arts and of course brands.

Sagar is fascinated by shifts in popular culture and believes underneath much of the the obvious noise today there are still really interesting things going on. “You don’t see the major shifts in genres and fashion like you did in the seventies and eighties but trends are still shifting. Will there be another Alexander McQueen or David Bowie, or will people simply be inspired by those made famous through reality TV? Time will tell,” he says

“I’m reading Vivienne Westwood’s biography at the moment and on the book’s back cover it simply states  that she was the “co-creator of punk”. What a way to be remembered. No different from what authentic brands should strive for; Difference,” Jonathan Sagar says.

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