Africans need to be proud of their brands and local companies and do everything they can to boost the image and reputation of these brands, says Brand Leadership Group founder and chairperson Thebe Ikalafeng.
“The top brands that Africans admire are all foreign. How are we going to transform the continent if we continually boost the brands of other countries?” Ikalafeng asked a packed plenary hall, at African Utility Week, in Cape Town.
He said Safaricom, from Kenya; Nandos, from South Africa; the Nation Media Group, from Kenya; MTN, from South Africa, and Econet, in Zimbabwe, had been identified by Forbes as among the top ten most innovative companies in Africa.
But African companies needed to build further on their successes. He gave an example of Starbucks and coffee.
“Branding is everything. An unbranded cup of coffee typically costs $1.25, while an average cup of Starbucks coffee goes for $3.25. Starbucks goes to Ethiopia, buys coffee for $0.20, goes to America, slaps on the logo and brings it back to Africa for $3.25 a cup – and you should see Africans lining up for it.”
Ikalafeng said African utilities had a tremendous opportunity to build their brands and communicate more effectively with their customers.
“Utilities are the life-blood of the economy. Branding is an important vehicle for us to build our continent.”
He also warned against complacency and poor service.
“We are unlucky in this continent that most of our utilities are run by government. Citizens have mostly given up their job to hold governments to account [though]. But Africans are no longer going to accept mediocrity.”
He called on utilities to up their game.
“Africa is the future. Let’s be patriotic. Our job is to love our country and our continent. Let’s align with our values and deliver on our promises.”