Inspiration behind the brand

matola Inspiring New Ways expresses South African pride in finding new ways of doing things: Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola

With the aim of giving a voice to the aspirations and achievements of the multi-cultural residents of this country, Brand South Africa has re-positioned itself with a new pay-off line – “South Africa: Inspiring New Ways”.

Inspiring New Ways follows hot on the heels of the organisation’s previous tagline, Alive With Possibility. The new slogan was launched along with the organisation’s new ad to promote it, featuring some of the country’s most influential figures.

This natural progression comes after much research and consultation. Inspiring New Ways was chosen to express South Africans’ pride as they continue to find new ways of doing things and new solutions to challenges in a rapidly changing world.

“The positioning had to be flexible enough to support marketing South Africa as an investment destination, and to promote our products and services. It also had to mobilise support from South Africans at home and abroad,” Miller Matola, the organisation’s chief executive officer, explained of the choice.

He stressed that the organisation “needed a brand expression, a positioning, that could be used by all elements that represent South Africa”. In making the commercial, Brand South Africa was inspired by people’s pride in the country’s achievements.

“Yes, as a nation we are certainly concerned about things like youth unemployment, about substance abuse, about corruption, about poor academic performance and greed. But people are deeply proud of our achievements, such as how we hosted the football World Cup, our successful democracy, and the Constitution – because it says something about our national character.”

Describes national character

Inspiring New Ways was a powerful descriptor of the best of the country’s national character, values and the fabric of its people, he said. It also challenged all citizens to help build on the country’s reputation for inspiration and innovation. Brand South Africa could not do this alone; it needed every individual to help build a strong nation brand.

About the new slogan, Matola said: “We should not assume that our fellow countries on the continent have not been developing – they have become very competitive and alive with possibilities. So we need now to differentiate ourselves as a nation that is ‘more grown up’ as it were … where we are not still talking of ‘possibilities’ 18 years into democracy and re-entering the international community.”

This progression from “possibility to delivery” had implications for Brand South Africa as it had changed, just as the country had. “When you have, as we do, the best regulated stock exchange in the world, a highly regarded tourism industry and excellent banking and financial regulation – to name a few examples – you don’t still describe yourself as having ‘possibilities’ because, in fact, you are delivering.”

South Africa had evolved and had gained stature and confidence. In response, a review of the brand and the role of the International Marketing Council (IMC) was undertaken, laying the basis for a new name and country brand positioning.

In May 2011, the Presidency announced that the IMC would become Brand South Africa, which more accurately captured the organisation’s mandate “to build South Africa’s nation brand reputation in order to improve South Africa’s global competitiveness”.

This mandate focuses on driving international investment and trade. Domestically, the organisation’s mandate is “to build pride and patriotism among South Africans and contribute to social cohesion and nation brand ambassadorship”.

Top 20 nation

Brand South Africa’s vision, according to Matola, is to have the country acknowledged as a Top 20 Nation Brand and a Top 30 Nation in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index by 2020. “South Africa recognised that every country in the world has a ‘brand’ – a way in which the country is perceived.

The active management of that brand can positively differentiate the country from its competitors and support increased trade, tourism and investment, resulting in more jobs and economic growth.”

The country had grown from a teenager, he said, and today it was a key player in global governance institutions such as the World Bank, G20, United Nations and African Union.

“South Africa is using its membership of these forums to promote the African agenda of development, growth and greater influence. We play a pivotal role in the reshaping of global governance as well as financial and trade architecture,” he said.
“Hosting the successful 2010 FIFA World Cup™ elevated South Africa on to the largest possible global stage before an audience of billions – and today Brazil looks to us for advice.”

He described South Africans as communicators and stressed that citizens needed to acknowledge that “South Africa has moved beyond possibility to delivery”.

“Since 1994, South Africa’s character and its brand have changed dramatically. As a country it transformed from a rainbow nation of hope to one that was alive with possibility to the present, where we have moved beyond possibility to world-class delivery and become a leading player on the global stage and contributing as global citizens.”

This change indicated the strong need to update the brand positioning to keep up with and lead the way in how the country was perceived by the world, he said. South Africa was ranked in the World Economic Forum’s 2011/12 Global Competiveness Report as:

 

  • First in the strength of auditing and reporting standards;
  • First in the regulation of securities exchange;
  • Second in the soundness of banks;
  • Second in the efficacy of corporate boards;
  • Third in the protection of minority shareholders’ interests;
  • Third in the availability of financial services; and,
  • Fourth in financing through the local equities market.