HOW THE OTHER HALF BRANDS
The mighty Interbrand, likely the world’s largest branding agency (Oxfam, Prozac, and Knorr, to show the range, all received the expert treatment), hosts a portal you will find interesting: Brand Channel. This is where not too long ago CEO of Interbrand Sampson Africa, Doug de Villers, opined on the state of Brand Africa. While browsing Brand Channel, make note of an interesting take on the question Is Africa Misbranded by the head of Truebranding, a London “sustainability agency.” Back to De Villers:
Africa’s problem is that we have no ingredient brands that play in the international arena – save for Nelson Mandela, SAB and ….well other than some powerful regional brands such as MTN and Stanbic, that’s about it. Companies that started in South Africa such as Anglo American, De Beers, Old Mutual and Investec are increasingly seen as British.
What Interbrand sees missing, others seem determined to find. The development world has begun to discover intellectual property: Light Years IP has been reponsible for most of the noise. Among other things it has produced a scoping study of African exports with valuable IP that comand impressive prices in Western retail. It is a showcase of Africa’s very real and valuable current and potential ingridient brands – perhaps some of this is what Interbrand is looking for at the top. Whatever intangibles Africa exports – premier leather, finest coffee or the world’s most sought after essential oils – it can barely capture 5-10% of the value these products earn in Western retail. That this does not have to be the case is clear to IP managers world over.
Value adding is an often used term when it comes to Africa; it’s the donor community’s favorite buzz word. An interesting question is what happens when value is already there but benefits are missing. On the internets, at brown bags or your fav bookstores, you will not find a better case for IP capacity building as a necessary tool in allevieting poverty than this colorful little booklet. Read it, get it here.