THE BRAND AM­BAS­SADOR

IMAG­INEA EN­ERGY IS THE FIRST COM­PANY IN THE EN­ERGY SEC­TOR WITH A BRAND­ING DI­REC­TOR – AND IT SHOULDN’T BE THE LAST

Alberta Oil - - OBSERVER NEWS NUMBERS PEOPLE PLACES -

Brand­ing isn’t an area that en­ergy com­pa­nies tend to spend much time or money on even in the good times, much less the bad ones. But Mu­naf Samji is aim­ing to change that. He’s the di­rec­tor of brand and dig­i­tal growth at Imag­inea En­ergy, an up­start pri­vate oil com­pany whose stated mis­sion is to change the way the oil patch does busi­ness. “In this in­dus­try, I think peo­ple still don’t un­der­stand what a brand di­rec­tor does,” Samji says. “Peo­ple don’t even un­der­stand what a brand is. But what I love about my role is ac­tu­ally show­cas­ing what that means.”

What that means for him is find­ing a way to con­nect the heart and the mind when it comes to the oil and gas in­dus­try. That, Samji says, is the essence of any strong cor­po­rate brand – and some­thing the en­ergy sec­tor has been miss­ing. “There’s a lot of push hap­pen­ing, but there’s no pull. And that’s the essence of a brand. Peo­ple are nat­u­rally at­tracted to your brand be­cause they be­lieve in its core val­ues.” Imag­inea’s core val­ues, he says, in­clude things like vul­ner­a­bil­ity and trans­parency – words that are rarely as­so­ci­ated with an in­dus­try that’s heavy on knowl­edge, ex­per­tise and pro­pri­etary tech­nol­ogy. “We want to be­come an open­source model, just like Tesla. The goal is to show­case our suc­cesses, but also share our fail­ures so that peo­ple don’t repli­cate them. In or­der to do that, we have to make sure that we’re an open book, and that we share ev­ery­thing. That adds an­other layer to that brand ex­pe­ri­ence, where peo­ple can start to trust us.” His de­ci­sion to join Imag­inea in the first place was, in fact, an act of trust. Af­ter all, while he grew up in Cal­gary, Samji wasn’t des­tined to work in the oil and gas in­dus­try. In­stead, he says his dream job was to work for GQ. He’d spent time own­ing a Se­cond Cup fran­chise, do­ing its mar­ket­ing and me­dia buy­ing and run­ning an oil and gas pub­li­ca­tion – one, fit­tingly enough, that he re­branded him­self. But af­ter nearly a decade with the mag­a­zine and with his 30th birth­day around the cor­ner, he de­cided it was time for a new cre­ative chal­lenge. He’d met Suzanne West, the CEO of Imag­inea En­ergy, a few years ear­lier, and says he “ran­domly” went to have a coffee with her in or­der to ask what he should do next. She didn’t pull her punches, ei­ther. “Right there at that ta­ble, she said ‘I’m start­ing my fifth com­pany – and you’re com­ing along.’ I thought she was crazy. First of all, you’re ask­ing an en­tre­pre­neur to come work for an oil and gas com­pany at a nineto-five job. I’ll kill my­self. But she told me to trust her, and said the con­cept was com­pletely dif­fer­ent. And I bought in.” Now, it’s his job to get other peo­ple to do the same thing. And while a clearly ar­tic­u­lated brand might seem like a lux­ury for a pri­vately held com­pany,

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