Raheem Akingbolu reviews the ranking of various brands from Africa by a South African-based Brand Leadership Movement in collaboration with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and reckons that brands from the continent have roles to play in building Africa
The popular saying that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ aptly captures the process of brand building in today’s market. From a well thought brand identity that will help in creating a strong brand image to the brand consolidation, a lot of work is required to enhance brand equity using advertising campaigns and promotional strategies.
However, many experts have argued that creating a strong brand may not be as tough as sustaining the tempo, considering the fact that competitions are strategising every seconds to upstage the market leader. To this end, it is believed that brand managers who want their brands to remain relevant should not allow complacency to set in anytime.
This is why handlers of top brands that are ranked in the 2018 edition of ‘The Brand Africa 100’, should not relent but rather aspire to push their respective brands beyond the shore of the continent. Again, the way the equity of some brands suddenly fall shows that brand building requires consistent refreshment and stimulation.
Most admired African brand
For Nigerians and other Africans that believe in African brands, the cheering news from the 2018 report on the ranking was the announcement of the Dangote Group, from Nigeria as the most admired African brand. The brand was rated as the most admired indigenous brand ahead the telecommunication giant, MTN, by consumers. The Brand Africa 100 is a brainchild of the South African based Brand Leadership Movement in collaboration with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). This year’s edition, announced in Johannesburg, South Africa is the sixth edition of the awards.
With this development, the Dangote brand, which is also the leading brand in Nigeria, has thus come atop in the fresh ranking of 100 best brands in Africa.
The Brand Africa 100” was established in 2010, in recognition of the growth of African brands, which were beginning to challenge global brands in Africa or lead global brands in new categories such as telecommunications.
According to the organisers, the aim of Brand Africa is to identify, acknowledge and promote African and global brands that are catalysts for Africa’s growth, reputation and value.
Describing the brand, “Dangote”, The Brand Africa revealed that the “Nigerian industrial brand Dangote is the number one African brand recalled when consumers are prompted about the continent (Africa) of origin while the South African tele-communications brand MTN is the number one African brand spontaneously recalled irrespective of continent of origin.
The United States sports and fitness brand, Nike, is the overall brand in Africa spontaneously recalled by consumers.
The Brand Africa 100 ranking is based on a survey among consumers who are between 18 years and older, conducted in 23 countries across Africa. The countries, representing all African economic regions, collectively account for 75 per cent of the population and the 74 per cent of the GDP of Africa.
Meanwhile, the spin doctors behind the Dangote brand, has expressed satisfaction in the announcement, pointing out that it came as a result of relentless effort to build a strong brand that can compete globally.
The Chief Corporate Communication Officer of the Dangote Group, Anthony Chiejina, said the management was not surprised at the ranking because the company has continuously deepened and delivered on its core values. The focus of the company, according to him, is to be a world-class enterprise that is passionate about the quality of life of the people and giving high returns to stakeholders.
“And this philosophy is driven by values, which include customer service, entrepreneurship, excellence and leadership. In any of our subsidiaries, the focus is to provide local, value-added products and services that meet the ‘basic needs’ of the populace. Through the construction and operation of large scale manufacturing facilities in Nigeria and across Africa, the Group is focused on building local manufacturing capacity to generate employment, prevent capital flight and provide locally produced goods for the people.
“The expansion of our business especially the Cement which has operations in 14 African countries including Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia, among others has added to popularity of our company and the products,” Chiejina stated.
Importance of the award
Through this year’s edition of the exercise, it has been established that African brands rose slightly to account for 17 per cent of the Top 100 brands in Africa, which indicates that non-African brands retained their firm position in Africa with 83 per cent share of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa.
Brands from Europe lead the table with 40 per cent, North America at 24 per cent and Asia 19 per cent. It was also announced that West Africa was 6 per cent, with only Nigerian brands and Southern Africa per cent.
The Top 100 is dominated by technology and electronic brands (29 per cent), consumer (non-cyclical) (19 per cent), apparel (15 per cent), automobile (8 per cent), food (7 per cent) and sports & fitness (5 per cent) categories are the top categories.
“Overall, the 2017/18 Brand Africa 100 list, which started out with over 15,500 brand mentions covering over 2,200 admired brands, illustrates a very diversified portfolio of categories and brands in Africa.
The founder and Chairman of Brand Africa and Brand Leadership, Thebe Ikalafeng, captured it well when he stated that African brands have an important role in helping to build the African brand.
According to him, these rankings are an important metric of the progress Africa is making in creating home-grown world-class brands that are changing the narrative on African competiveness, image and reputation and contributing to its socio-economic transformation.
“There is an incredible year-on-year consistency, with 60 per cent of the Top 10 brands common among the Top 10 Most Admired African Brands and Most Admired Brands in Africa, led by Nigeria’s Dangote and Glo, South Africa’s MTN and Shoprite, Kenya’s Tusker and Ethiopia’s Anbessa. Out of the 16 African brands in Top 100 in 2016/17, 6 exited and 7 entered the Top 100 in 2017/18.
“The major change on the list is the status of the Safaricom/Mpesa brand. Because Vodacom/Vodafone recently became majority owner of the business, in the 2017/18 tables the Safaricom/Mpesa brand was consolidated into the Vodacom/Vodafone brand. Singled out, the Safaricom/Mpesa brand ranked 27, higher than the Vodacom/Vodafone brand, which is at #31. Collectively, the Vodacom/Vodafone/Safaricom brand is now at #17…
“Safaricom/Mpesa remains a highly recalled ‘African’ brand among Financial Services and the Most Admired Brands in Africa. Zimbabwe’s Econet made the most spectacular first time entry into the Top 100 at #40. After a long stay on the list despite its innumerable challenges, BlackBerry finally fell off the list as the brand exited the consumer markets. On the other hand, Etisalat, which dropped 31 spots, remains on the list of the Top 100 despite exiting Africa in 2017.
“The highest gains are dominated by apparel and lifestyle sport brands Ralph Lauren (+48), Versace (+41) and a resurgent Reebok (+43). The sports category, led by Nike (#1), remains a strong performer, due to strategic repositioning or expansion in their positioning towards lifestyle and high profile endorsements and partnerships which have freshened and broadened the brands’ appeal, particularly to youthful and young consumers.”
Another instructive discovery in the exercise is that the Brand Africa 100 list is still dominated by non-African brands in categories that are largely driven by and require long-term investment, research and access to skills and resources — electronics and telecommunication (30%), consumer, non-cyclical (19%), apparel (15%),automobile (8%), food (7%), sports and fitness (5%).
Future of African brands
Among other things, this year’s report of the ranking has further pointed out that there is no question that Africans are invested in and admire brands, with a keen consumption of global brands. Throughout its history, the Brand Africa 100 survey is believed to have elicited some interesting insights on brands in the continent.
For instance, it disclosed that when prompted to identify their Most Admired African Brand, some responses listed generic product or category identities rather than the trading brands, with textile “brands” such as kente(Ghana), kitenge (East and Southern Africa), capulana(Mozambique) and wax, being mentioned. In other instances, people who have a large African following – such as Nelson Mandela or the charismatic Malawiarpastor Major 1 Bushiri – as well as sports teams such a former CAP champions, South Africa’s Orlando Pirates and English giant Chelsea were also said to have been mentioned as Most Admired African Brands.
“This indicates a varying conception of what is a brand by market, depending on exposure and level of development. In much of Africa, the brand follows the function unless a brand owns the category and has established itself as a generic or is ubiquitous in its category, such as Coca Cola (#4). Toyota (#8), Samsung (#2) and Nike (#1), which have largely retained their positions. Other respondents merely stated that their most admired brand is aucune”— any brand (as long as it works),” the report stated.
However, with the report, it is obvious that Africa is on the rebound. Already, the World Bank has disclosed that sub Saharan Africa’s growth will reach 3.1 per cent in 2018 and 3.6 per cent in 2019—20. This, while still below pre-crisis growth levels, is encouraging and premised on expectations of rising commodity prices and sustained reforms.
The 2017—18 Brand Africa 100 report reflects a steady African brands story with African brands holding a 17% share of the Top 100 Most Admired Brands in Africa consistent with previous years. In terms of the other regions, Europe (40%) declined by 5% and North America (24%) declined by 8%, while Asia (19%) grew by 12 per cent.
In all this, the lesson to learn by brand managers in Africa is that consistency and good value propositions are necessary to build a strong brand.
This is necessary considering the process embarked upon by the organisers, who stated that in overall, the unprompted and prompted surveys of the Most Admired Brands in Africa and Most Admired African Brands respectively reveal an incredible consistency, with 60% of the top two brands being present in both tables, led by Nigeria’s Dangote and Gb, South Africa’s MTN and Shoprite, Kenya’s Tusker and Ethiopia’s Anbessa.