After studying Mass Communication at NIJ, Boluwatife Opaniran picked up his skills in graphics designing and founded Edge Plus Creative in November 2020. In this interview, he tells OMOSHALEWA KAYODE-ONIFADE about his journey into the advertising industry and why he prefers to work mostly for little known brands
Talk briefly about Edge Plus Creative?
Edge Plus Creative is a creative consulting agency, more like an integrated marketing communication – advertising – agency. We think on behalf of our clients in terms of how they can break into the communication channels and ensure they have proper reach, awareness and increased sales on whatever product they are trying to market. So, we serve like an intermediary between businesses and their prospects, and to ensure a mutual relationship in terms of how well communication is dispersed to our clients’ audiences.
What inspired you?
Right from when I was younger, I’ve always been around people who have entrepreneurial qualities. An example is my aunt. Because of my schooling, I moved to my aunt’s place. She had a provision shop. Seeing her ignited the entrepreneurial spirit in me. So, before I was admitted into the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, I had learnt graphic designing. I had started designing for people. At NIJ, I was helping my colleagues with their project designs.
I later got a scholarship into an advertising agency, O2 Academy Lagos, in 2019 to study Art Direction. O2 Academy is a school for people who are going into advertising. They do Strategies, Ad Directions and Copyrighting. The experience at O2 Academy got me a job into an advertising space, which was a big one for me. I knew I was going to do something in terms of communication, but I wasn’t clear if it would be an ad agency or a graphic design entity.
When I got into the advertising space, I found out it would be a communications company. When I was at NIJ, I did a lot of writing. So I realised that I already had the basic skills to lead the business, to oversee the department that will form the whole body in terms of copyrighting – video editing, creative space, communication and all that. I resigned and started Edge Plus in November 2020. It has been an amazing experience so far.
What is the role of Mass communication in this?
I studied Mass Communication in NIJ. Mass Communication has been helpful to me because it gave me a chance to know better what I am doing. Mass Communication is a fusion of Print Journalism; Broadcast Journalism; Public Relations and Advertising.
When I got into NIJ, I had an Adverting lecturer, Amaze Jack. He took us to advertising competitions. I was part of Future Creative Leaders’ Academy in 2018, represented NIJ and was able to meet industry experts. This exposed me more to what advertising is all about. At that level, I started building interest in advertising, even before going to an advertising school that really gave me the right foundation. So, I won’t say that studying Mass Communication was something I never wanted to do. I loved writing from the start. I have always been writing on my Facebook page. While I was in secondary school, I studied Arts; so it wasn’t a mistake that I studied Mass Communication.
How is Nigeria’s educational system affecting your work?
The best I could get from school was at my National Diploma level, and the Higher National Diploma stage was more like a repetition of some things and an improvement on some others. At NIJ, I wasn’t having the right inspiration. I am someone that wants something new, something fresh and something that would task my brain and ensure that I bring out the best out of it. However, the school system is more rigid; nobody is giving you room to express yourself. School was not giving me the room for expression, so I had to take a decision.
How did you get into the creative industry?
I have always been a graphic designer. Then I switched from being a graphic designer to being a creative designer. When I was at O2 Academy, where I studied Art Direction, there was a switch from regular designing to creating designs for jobs. Now I am creating designs to sell. There is a bit of thoughtfulness and manipulation, just to ensure it is catchy and not a regular design. I won’t call myself a designer anymore; I would call myself a brand management consultant because I am more into brand consulting. I have clients and we work on full services; total communication and experience that involve pictures, videos, graphics and the likes. I mean we jump on trends. It goes beyond just sitting in front of a laptop and creating designs; it is more about brainstorming ideas, working in a team and taking the best out of the brief. So, the vision is now beyond an individual.
What about Photography experience?
When I finished secondary school in 2013, I didn’t get admission till 2015. To keep myself busy, I was into a lot of things like teaching and photography. I had a church member, who taught me a lot of things. When I got admission, I switched from photography to school.
However, before learning photography and video production, I had learnt graphics. When I got to school, a lot of things were in my head and I had the drive of not wanting to be a burden to anyone, wanted my life to be in my hands. That also helped.
What is your company’s area of specialisation?
Edge Plus Creative is now a full-blown communications agency and we are more digitally-inclined. We also do jobs that have to do with print. We are not restricted to a particular area; so we have a 3600 approach to our work.
Who are some of the notable clients you have worked for?
Most of the brands I have worked for might not be known, but the big break for me was recently when we worked for Shell on a short video. Although it wasn’t a direct work, it is still something that will add to our portfolio because it is a known brand. Beside that we have serviced clients like Wunmi’s Bakery and Bistro, churches in California among others.
My strategy for penetration is quite dynamic and unique. When I started, I decided not to run ads for big brands; because I was just starting out, I needed to build capacity, to build a team and to build trust. So, I did not run after the big brands, in order not to kill myself. Big brands are looking out for statistics and I do not have all that, but I believe in my capacity and the things I have done before.
My strategy is to work with people that are just starting out, who are crude because I don’t have the capacity financially to go for people who are already experts in copyrighting, graphics, video editing and all that. So, that strategy has worked for me.
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