In 1957, Kwame entered history books as the first leader of Ghana - the first African country to gain independence. “We are going to see that we create our own African personality and identity,” he said. This statement is said to have been the birth of the Pan African movement.
Africa must first position itself strategically in the global map before successful Pan African brands can exist. A Pan African brand will be one that has gained respect and patronage in all the major regional and economic blocks of Africa, has a distinct feature of the African continent and represents the voices of its people.
The Celtel Chief Commercial Officer, Tito Alai, in an interview with Sokoni magazine, once said Celtel viewed the various people of Africa as similar – “rather than geographic, their difference really lies in economic variances.” This statement can perhaps justify Celtel’s move of consolidating its vast network across Africa, starting with East Africa’s newly launched One Network service.
The question of nationality does not escape brand consumers. The M-Net brand is still known to be South African despite the fact that it has been subscribed to by many people in various parts of Africa. After South Africa, M-Net’s other biggest market is
South Africa has succeeded in growing its brand despite its association with apartheid. The year 2004 saw
Tom Sitati, Brandscape Africa Director, opines that people sometimes buy into a brand when they have no choice. In many parts of
Angela Ng’ang’a, AAR Public Relations Coordinator says that the mother country of a brand matters. She recounts how the AAR brand suffered because consumers preferred a South African brand. “Soon after Medex, a South African competitor joined us in
Ravinder Singh of Research Solutions observes that South Africa’s Nationalistic pride has played a large part in their unity and prosperity. The same is seen in
“One of the challenges in building a national brand,” says Jebet Chemgorem of brand design firm, GreyOwl, “is that people tend to belong to a particular culture first.” People will resent what is imposed on them, for example, the Najivunia kuwa Mkenya and Vision 2030 projects.
Some brands such as Tusker and Safaricom in Kenya have discovered the essence of the nation and can hold the key to developing strong national brands.
“Tusker brought people together, or at least created the illusion of togetherness,” says Fatima Ali Mohamed, the immediate past Chair of the Marketing Society of Kenya, who is now based at Bidco, Uganda.
Discovering what successful African brands did right with their strategies holds the key to what African national brands are and what needs to be done to consolidate national brands hence creating Pan African brands. That is probably the way Africa shall climb out of the pit of underdevelopment.