How regional companies can benefit from Brand South Africa 

Estimated read time 4 min read

As the most advanced and broad-based economy on the continent, South Africa offers exporters and investors a diverse and mature economy with proven financial and other service sectors, as well as preferential access to export markets in the European Union, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Depending on what clients and business partners are looking for, being a South African brand can present both challenges and prestige. An annual report on country rankings by Brand Asset Valuator (BAV) provides insight into how the world views our nation and how brands can capitalize on it. 

The power of association is well known to those who have an older sibling. When you arrived at school, your teacher most likely already had a detention slip with your name on it if you were the school delinquent. It was expected of you to emulate your sibling’s success if they were a high achiever. 

For a very long time, brands have used the power of association. This explains why they sponsor sports teams and work with celebrities. However, a nation’s brand can also significantly impact how people view companies operating there. We can learn more about those perceptions regarding association with Brand South Africa from the BAV report. 

The extensive survey that measured 80 countries and received responses from over 17,000 respondents—a diverse global sample—serves as the foundation for the BAV rankings. Governments all over the world use BAV’s robust country data to learn about their country’s situation and to educate themselves about their country partners, according to WPP’s David Roth. 

Overall, South Africa came in at 46th in the world and third on the African continent, behind Egypt (34th in the world) and Morocco (40th in the world). By delving deeper into specific categories, we can identify the positive attributes associated with South Africa that local brands can use to their advantage, as well as the challenges about perceptions the country brands can expect to encounter. 

Good: political influence and economic leverage 

In this respect South Africa came 28th in the Movers category and 29th in the Power category. These attributes reflect the nation’s potential for growth and influence. 

Economically, South Africa can benefit from its leadership and influence within Africa and trading blocs, as well as its potential for difference, dynamism, innovation and adaptability, and a favorable tax environment. Local brands could benefit by pitching for business with international partners that are looking to expand across Africa. 

Good: compelling stories 

One should never underestimate the power of a good story, and South Africa has a lot going for it when it comes to capturing the imaginations of an international audience. 

The country scored highly on Cultural Heritage (24th) and Adventure (35th), two key ingredients for an enticing narrative. Brands can leverage these qualities to turn even mundane interactions with customers and clients into exciting and memorable experiences. This could be as simple as sharing the local folklore about the indigenous ingredients in a product or as lavish as hosting a client event at a game reserve. 

Socially, South Africa can leverage its fun-loving and friendly culture, modernized heritage, sporting talent, geographic attractions, rich history, environmental consciousness and care for the environment. 

Bad: barriers to business 

South Africa fared dismally in the categories Open for Business (79th), Quality of Life (55th) and Agility (43rd). For brands, recognizing these areas in need of improvement is essential to fostering development and progress. Being aware of these perceptions can help inform strategy and risk management. 

As South Africans, it’s easy for us to focus on negative aspects of our everyday lived experience. But looking at our country through the eyes of the world reveals a lot of goods that we can leverage as we promote our brands beyond the country’s borders. 

Source: the red zone (Dono White) 

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