Brand Africa

June 5, 2012

Can you brand Africa? 

Brand Africa is a not for profit agency focusing on branding (or re-branding) the African continent. The agency concentrates on the “the four key drivers of a sustainable reputation and competitive identity, namely: The experience of those who engage with Africa, both internally and externally; the capabilities of Africa; the image of Africa; and Africa’s culture”.

The brainchild of this inspirational initiative is accomplished South African Thebe Ikalafeng. Not only is Ikalafeng the Founder and Chairman of Brand Africa he is also the Chairman of Public Sector Excellence, the vice-chairman of the Brand Council of South Africa and the list goes on!

In 2012, the agency named South Africa followed by Egypt and Nigeria as the top branded African nations out of ten.

I find the concept of branding Africa fascinating and as an African-Australian who has lived primarily outside of Africa, I spent most of this week trying to tally in my head how many African nations I could identify as being a ‘brand’.

I can see why South Africa would garnish the top spot. Considering that when I speak to non-Africans, the only African country they seem to know about is South Africa and the rest of the continent is often blurred into one homogenous mass of suffering and experiences. Personally, when I think of South Africa’s national imagery, South African Airways immediately pops into my head. Then I think of the Springboks, Nelson Mandela, 2010 World Cup or landscapes of cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg.

I am surprised that Nigeria rated higher than Kenya though. I would have thought Kenya had a stronger brand presence than Nigeria.

The agency has extended the branding concept into national initiatives such as Brand Ghana and Brand Nigeria. It has got me thinking about my role in Brand Somalia. What does that even look like?  It perplexes and excites me.

Brand Africa hosts an annual forum inviting the brightest African minds to come together to tackle the complicated issues of branding and re-branding Africa. At the 2011 forum, speaker Dr Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid, made a comment that has deeply resonated with me:

 The time for ‘band-aid’ solutions to Africa’s problems is over. We need to fix structural problems. We need to embrace innovation and start now to deal with Africa as a brand and as a solution.

So tell me, does Africa need to be branded?

Is it helpful to see future development of the continent in terms of branding?

Do you agree with the top ten list as produced by Brand Africa?


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