Inside Africa’s Best Brands

Aliko Dangote,
Aliko Dangote

As the 2020 edition of Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands, names the Dangote brand as the most admired brand of African origin, Raheem Akingbolu reviews the rating process and tasks the promoters of the leading African brand to sustain the tempo

Perhaps the most celebrated news in the African corporate corridor, since the COVID-19 Pandemic broke was the unveiling of the 2020 edition of Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands, which gained traction across all social media platforms. In Nigeria, the news was particularly cheered because it brought out the best of the country’s brands -Dangote, as the best in the continent. According to the organisers, as usual, the exercise involved a survey of 100 Africa best brands.

The report shows that for the third consecutive year, Dangote Group, a conglomerate founded by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, emerged as the most admired brand of African origin, by consumers. This year, the brand shares the accolades with African multinational telecommunication giant, MTN.

However, breakdown of the report shows a flipside as African brands drop to 13per cent, which is all-time low while non-African brands account for 87 per cent of the top 100 brands in the continent. For instance, Nike retains No 1 rating in Africa for third year in a row and African brands drop by over 60 per cent in 10 years.

Out of the top 100 brands in the 2010/11 rankings, only half remain in the tables due to mergers, acquisitions and obsolescence. Europe retains continental lead with 42/100 (+5%), North America with all-USA brands 29/100 (+3.5%) and Asia with 16/100 (-6%) and Dangote and MTN retain rankings as Africa’s most admired African brands. MTN is No 1 spontaneously recalled African brand among the top 100.

However, in line with the new lifestyle, which the current global crisis has foisted on all businesses, the results of the survey were announced during a novel global virtual event that took into account openings of the capital markets of Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. In the financial services category, another Nigerian brand, Guaranty Trust Bank, came tops, while the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of the United Kingdom, is the most admired media brand by those surveyed for the media sub-category.

Thirteen of the 100 entries are occupied by African brands. The number was short by seven from last year when 20 African brands featured in the top 100 brands’ survey.

The survey was established 10 years ago to coincide with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the world’s biggest single sporting event. Named Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands, the survey and rankings have established themselves as the most authoritative survey, analysis, and metric of brands in Africa.

The Survey and the Process

In an online interactive session via Zoom, which was monitored by THISDAY, it was admitted that African brands have an important role in helping to build the image, competitiveness and transforming the continent’s promise into a real change.

“It’s concerning that in the 10 years since the triumphant FIFA World Cup in South Africa which globally highlighted the promise and capability of Africa, and despite the vibrant entrepreneurial environment, Africa is not creating more competitive brands to meet the needs of its growing consumer market,” one of the contributors stated.

Speaking on the process that led to the report, the Global Client Development Manager, GeoPoll, Mr. Caitlin van Niekerk pointed out that the reach and accessibility of mobile across the continent enabled the coordinators to survey respondents across a representative sample of countries quickly and effectively, thereby getting vital and timeous results at a critical time. He added that Kantar has been the insight lead for Brand Africa since inception in 2010.

Founder and chairman of Brand Africa and Brand Leadership,

Mr. Thebe Ikalafeng, arguably the foremost global African branding and reputation architect, advisor and author in his contribution, said that the survey seeks to establish brand preferences across Africa, adding that it’s consumer-centric.

Earlier, an explanatory statement by the organisers had stated that the survey was conducted among a representative sample of respondents 18 years and older, in 27 countries which collectively represent 50 per cent of the continent, covering all economic regions and accounting for an estimated 80 per cent of the population and the GDP of Africa.

It further explained that the 2020 survey was conducted between February and April 2020 and yielded over 15,000 brand mentions and over 2,000 unique brands

However, the most prominent changes are in the technology category with the demise of Blackberry (#32 in 2010/11), the consolidation of Vodafone (#54 in 2010/11 and now #13 in 2020) which acquired Vodacom in 2008 and rebranded in 2011, Etisalat (#40 in 2010/11) rebranding to 9 Mobile in 2017 and Motorola (#39) being acquired by Lenovo in 2014. A Chinese brand, Tecno, has raced up the ranking from #33 to #5 in the rankings – a dominant performance for one of China’s premier global brands that are not even sold in China

Response and Feedback

Reacting to the outcome of the survey, the spin doctors behind the Dangote brand, have 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 with a long-standing reputation for quality, relevance, compliance and social stewardship.

The Chief Corporate Communication Officer of the Dangote Group, Mr. 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.

“Our mission and vision engage and inspire us, by extension, connect us to both our internal and external stakeholders. We fervently believe that only Africans can develop Africa, and this gives us stronger sense of relevance in all the countries where we have our operations. We are touching lives by providing their basic needs and empowering Africans more than ever by creating jobs, reducing capital flight, helping government conserve foreign exchange by supporting different industrial infrastructural projects of African government,” Chiejina said.

Chiejina added that Dangote Cement had been producing high quality and affordable cement, reducing poverty, engaging in unprecedented philanthropy and, above all, respecting the laws of the land where it operates. “All these are our credo and we do not compromise it; it is our way. And the ranking is just an acknowledgement of all these by our stakeholders, we keep our brand promise and stay authentic,” he concluded

Lessons for African Brands

The popular saying that Rome wasn’t built in a day aptly captures the process of brand building in today’s market, especially as it concerns Dangote and other top brands in the list. From a well-thought-out brand identity that will help in creating a strong brand image to 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 second 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 at any time.

This is why handlers of top brands that are ranked in the 2020 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 falls shows that brand building requires consistent refreshment and stimulation. For Dangote and others that remain relevant despite global challenges, the future sure looks bright and beautiful.