Africa Style: Don’t replay your brand — we’re changing too fast
by Masingita Mazibuko Change, the unfamiliar, the unknown — these are circumstances that human beings naturally avoid. Yet, marketers are duty-bound to be brave if they are to contribute positively to their brands’ success and, on a far larger scale, their economy’s growth.
A valid statement in economies worldwide, it is a vital one in South Africa, where we are rebuilding our society.
Here, in addition to a great divide between haves and have-nots and a seemingly insurmountable requirement for investment in basic services, class mobility and rapid technological advancement perpetually challenge the so-called established norms. New channels and sub-cultures are constantly emerging.
Marketers have to face the unknown, embrace the unfamiliar and leverage the changes.
It has always been so. Yet, only a handful of brands have taken a stand.
The iconic United Colors of Benetton campaign stared then-current convention in the face with its portrayal of — shock! — different-race and same-sex couples in — shock and horror! — various stages of undress and embrace. These arresting visuals made a not too subtle statement, and captured the imagination of many.
So, as brand custodians, our role is not to play back to consumers what our brand is but to ensure an ever-evolving conversation, so that we keep them actively engaged. There’s no need to be reckless but, rather, considered, and to take into account the present-day dynamics or anticipate the imminent change.
This may require investing ahead of the curve in channels and on target markets that are not — currently — important to our brands. But, having planted the seed, when the market does take root and grows, we will reap the fruits of our investment and, hopefully, contribute to society’s change or growth.
Masingita Mazibuko, marketing director at Unilever, contributes the monthly “Africa Style” column to MarkLives.com. The views expressed within this column are entirely her own.
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