Why Brand South Africa launched a Nation Brand Masterclass

This article first appeared on a Brand South Africa media partner’s site


Brand South Africa's CEO Miller Matola speaking to final year Branding students at Vega School of Marketing. Photo: Prelene Singh.

Brand South Africa’s CEO Miller Matola speaking to final year Branding students at Vega School of Marketing. Photo: Prelene Singh.

Building a positive and strong nation brand is the key to any country’s success both domestically and internationally. A nation brand needs to encompass a whole spectrum of what the nation has to offer to both its domestic and international stakeholders.

Brand South Africa is mandated to build and manage South Africa’s nation brand in order to strengthen the country’s global competitiveness. The domestic mandate lines up with building pride and patriotism among the people of South Africa; inspiring and unifying civil society, business, government and the media to build the reputation of our country.  Internationally, we are responsible for positioning South Africa as an investment destination of choice to attract inward investment.

We do this using various tools but one of the most important is to communicate South Africa’s value proposition through a consolidated and clear brand image and a cohesive message.

To achieve this with greater consistency, Brand South Africa launched a Nation Brand Master Class on Tuesday 30 September 2014 at the VEGA School of Marketing.  The Master Class was rolled out to final year students attending VEGA to encourage future marketers and communicators to play their part in positioning South Africa as a competitive destination.

The Puzzle Theory

 South Africa’s reputation and global views on nation reputation building lay at the heart of the Master Class.  To this end, a puzzle formed the background aesthetic.

This was inspired by Simon Anholt’s Nation Brand Hexagon comprising the following -Investment and Trade; Exports; People; Culture and Heritage; Governance and Tourism- which fit as the pieces of the puzzle of a cohesive nation brand.

Simon Anholt's Hexagon

Simon Anholt’s Hexagon

To encourage the students of the Master Class to think beyond what we know and presently do, the key visual for the Class was an unfinished puzzle of the South African flag. This visual language was used to create a memorable tactile and emotional experience – one that encourages students to challenge present day theories on marketing and communication and secondly, to play their part of putting together new and inspiring solutions to position South Africa.

At the same time, participants in the Nation Brand Master Class were encouraged to think about how they could play their part in being excellent at what they do wherever they are. This excellence is what pulsates throughout a country in a way that enables it to become a competitive investment destination.

This Master Class is a fresh and unique way of approaching nation brand studies in South Africa and is the first of its kind in the country. It aims to educate and encourage people to understand the holistic South African brand image,vision, identity and positioning thus growing the brand and developing an understanding of how this aligns with our careers and subsequently us playing our part. We all want to be citizens of an inspirational and competitive country.  We should therefore all want to be excellent and be part of a brand of excellence.

Whether it be making multipurpose schoolbags for underprivileged children in your community which could contribute to the people pillar of the hexagon, or starting a local book café thus contributing to the culture and heritage of the country, or understanding how your role in the job you do every day contributes to nation building which will contribute to investment into the country and create attractiveness to outsiders, you are a vital part of Brand South Africa and playing your part to grow our country’s competitiveness.

In partnership with the Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA), the class has been designed to inspire the youth and to impart knowledge which will empower them to influence change in their surroundings, in making South Africa one of the best.

Therefore, be motivated to rally behind the brand South Africa and put yourself in a position to help accelerate the execution of the National Development Plan (NDP) and to foster a more informed, engaged and activated society – this is part of building the nation brand as an active South African citizen and this is why the Nation Brand Masterclass was launched by Brand South Africa.


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