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Branding, and the changing role of websites

Websites are no longer the standalone portal to communicate a brand, given the proliferation of social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram has changed how we consider developing a branded website.

We formed mobilearn as a company in 2017 in pursuit of our vision of promoting digital literacy through the creation of simple-to-understand videos that resonate with the bulk of our population who may have not fully exploited the mobile device that is a sophisticated computer that happens to make phone calls.

As alluded to in a previous piece in TechCentral, most consumers in South Africa use their precious data for entertainment or social media. We had this urge to contribute and play a role in promoting digital literacy. Our expectation was that many consumers with smartphones would want to learn on the mobile device, hence mobilearn. Content in the home language is key in learning, more so with technology. This realisation spurred us into producing content in multiple languages, including isiXhosa.

Websites now have to be part of a multi-channel strategy in a brand’s evolution.

We created a website, mobilearn.africa, to host the videos we created. Our capacity and skills grew over time and mobilearn began to attract commercial opportunities. Our website continued to promote digital literacy and concomitantly our digital content production morphed into a business.

Early this year, we concluded that our brand (learning on a mobile device) and our website had become disconnected from our evolving business, even though we continued to produce digital literacy content on a non-profit basis. We seriously considered changing the name of the company to sync with the digital media production business.

Establishing a brand does not occur overnight, and we concluded that there is an existing awareness and value that has accumulated over time within both the commercial and the non-profit arms of mobilearn.


We decided to chisel the mobilearn brand along our business and create a new name for our non-profit contribution, and so s2L.online (something to learn online) was born. We currently have a learner management platform where we now host content in courses covering topics such as Zoom, Teams and WhatsApp, and these courses are at no cost. We are particularly proud of the Sars eFiling course in English and isiXhosa.

Back to the mobilearn website. In the past, websites were equivalent to a corporate brochure. With a brand’s presence in many of the social media tools, websites have begun to play a different role. Websites now have to be part of a multi-channel strategy in a brand’s evolution. Much of our thinking and strategy around our “new” website was influenced by Kenn Jordan, a UK based website consultant who develops and manages numerous corporate sites. Some of the principles taken into consideration were:

  1. We moved from Squarespace to WordPress.
  2. The site must load as speedily as possible, which meant no bells and whistles and image sizes must be as small as possible.
  3. The website had to be simple, with easy to find key information — no fancy moves and creative gymnastics.
  4. The language had to change, from “this is what we do”, to “this is how we can solve your needs”.
  5. It is critical to understand why and how someone comes to your website. What were they searching for? This understanding leads to the need to figure out how one would convert that site visit – provide an opportunity to connect with your company with “call us”, “do you need more information”, etc.
  6. Drive social media efforts to the site – but target the links. If there is a link in any of the social media tools on a particular piece, then create a link to the website to a specific page with that content.

These are but some of the general principles that influenced how we have begun our journey from re-evaluating the mobilearn brand and the realisation that a website is key, but it is no longer a brochure. Websites have become tools to convert the curious to an opportunity to engage.

This article was originally published on TechCentral.