Western Cape urged to ‘live the brand’


WC-text1 From left, Brand South Africa’s Miller
Matola and Esa Yacoob, Libby Ferrandi of
Cape Town think tank Accelerate and
Iggy Sathekge, also of Brand South

WC-text2 Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten was the
summit’s programme director.
(Images: Nicky Rehbock)

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Brand South Africa hosted its eighth stakeholder summit in the Western Cape on 8 December 2011, where it partnered with local agencies to showcase the province’s diverse strengths and rigorously debate current challenges it – and the country as a whole – faces.

Taking place in each of the nine provinces, the summits aim to increase provincial participation in the nation-branding effort and encourage active citizenship – which, in turn, will help position the country as a top investment and tourism destination.

“The Western Cape today is a place full of diversity, life and growth – and an optimism that stems from breath-taking surroundings of the City of Cape Town. More importantly, business leaders and key organisations in the province believe it holds the key to the gateway into Africa,” said Nils Flaatten, CEO of the official investment and trade promotion agency for the Western Cape, Wesgro.

“Numerous Western Cape-based companies such as Shoprite Checkers and Engen have already used their well-established base to expand onto the rest of the continent. This investment naturally generates investment in banking and financial services as their support base follows them.”

Massive shift ahead

That said, the province and the country needs to brace itself for a changing economic climate, spurred on by a possible collapse of the European banking system and a gloomy outlook in the UK, US and Japan.

This undoubtedly will impact the country as these are some of our most important trading partners.

“What does this mean for South Africa? It means we will have limited financial resources to market the country, tourism propositions and our products,” Flaatten added.

“There’s going to be a massive shift of financial, intellectual, research and development, and cultural power from the West to the East – and unfortunately we may not understand these new emerging markets that well. So it’s timeous that Brand South Africa comes to our province and shares with us their view on how we can collectively achieve success for South Africa. And we should bear in mind that if the Western Cape is to succeed, we are actually contributing to national GDP growth as well.”

Esa Yacoob, Brand South Africa board member for the Western Cape, said it was vital that people in his province see themselves as active members of the nation brand.

“Every citizen of the Western Cape must recommit to share the vision of a glorious South Africa. The brand belongs to all of us – and each one of us is a brand builder. If we all act with unity of purpose we will all contribute to the growth and enhanced reputation of South Africa – locally and internationally. We all have to live the brand,” Yacoob said.

Lessons in marketing at a city level

The City of Cape Town with its iconic Table Mountain, recently announced as one of the New7Wonders of Nature, is a prime tourism destination for domestic and overseas travellers. It also boasts a thriving finance and business services sector, as well as buoyant wholesale and retail trade.

These achievements are a result of building a competitive city brand – a practice which compares well to nation-branding.

Libby Ferrandi, marketing manager of the Cape Town think tank Accelerate, said that city branding needs to look at developing a region’s strengths and sensibly addressing its challenges.

“The city has a stable and diverse economy, local political alignment and stability, a growing availability of bandwidth and an entrepreneurial spirit,” she said.

Factors challenging this vision, however, are a weak business brand, meaning that there’s room for growth in tourism derived from corporate travel, and strong seasonality in leisure tourism – brought on by a dip in tourist numbers during the Cape’s winter months.

Going forward, the city’s vision for 2030 is to become a global African city of natural, human and cultural inspiration and innovation – one that becomes an international hub of talent and inspires ideas for a better world, according to Ferrandi.