• Wed. Nov 30th, 2022

​Brand purpose is lifeline for businesses in Africa, says Gilbert Manirakiza 


Nov 5, 2022
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As consumers, we live in a marketing-centric world. From the foods we eat to the clothes we wear, each part of our daily lives is pushed at us by brands hoping we’ll buy their product.

However, marketing tactics today come with an added layer of complexity, and old forms of advertising are no longer a sustainable opt​​ion of doing business.

In a world where social issues are updated in real-time and pinged to the phones in our hands, brands have gone beyond mere production of goods and services. Now, companies are increasingly called upon to take a vocal stand on critical social issues.

COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and the climate crisis are a few of the current social issues both small and large companies today have taken a clear stance on, incorporating corporate activism into their business practices.

In today’s world, vocal sentiment has evolved from an optional perspective to becoming a necessary staple of doing business. Consumers today want to know the brands they support are taking a public-facing position on important societal issues.

Speaking Out

Some brands have been vocally outspoken to the detriment of their bottom line. However, they have done so in favor of staying true to positive values. Whether a company is family-owned or a multi-national corporation, brands can no longer afford to focus purely on financial success.

The interconnectedness of people, the planet, and social progress are crucial in today’s global economy.

Brands cannot simply sell goods and services anymore. They must also aim to carry a positive social message and give back to the communities they impact. Access to brands and the conversations they are a part of has never been easier.

Companies can reach their customers at very granular levels with the rise of social media. From activists to influencers, brands can now partner with these groups to help lead the conversation and bring it to the masses.

On the other side of the coin, companies that don’t take an outright stance on such values have received flak from consumers and peers alike. When brands exhibit a lack of consideration for social causes, customers tend to rebel.

In numbers terms, 57% of customers have stated they’re more likely to boycott a brand due to its social stance.

How Companies Can Articulate Brand Purpose

Most recently, specific crises have highlighted just how fragile certain communities are in the face of major global crises like the climate catastrophe and the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, rising inequality due to such crises is compelling brands to rethink their business models.

So, how can companies articulate their brand purpose to align with global sentiment, all while staying afloat? Which issues do companies feel they have the power to influence change?

There are certain steps companies can take, including defining what they want to be known for, listening to their stakeholders, adopting an authentic voice, and contributing to topical discussions.

Shaping discourse on a socio-political level doesn’t come without its challenges. However, a simple commitment to transparency and consistency will take brands far.

Living Out Brand Purpose is Key

Customers today aren’t simply buying a product anymore; they’re also buying what a company believes in. Because of this, companies are better off defining and living out a clear purpose. In today’s world, brands have moved forward from having corporate social responsibility as a fringe part of their inner workings to making their social and environmental purpose a critical pillar of what they are known for.

Demonstrating purpose will look different for each brand, and staying silent is no longer a viable option in our world. Take a look at any of the major corporations today, and you’ll likely see them taking their place in the world of corporate activism. Rightfully so.

As Steve Jobs, arguably one of the most well-known entrepreneurs and brand developers of our generation, put it: “…companies need to be known for something.” In our increasingly noisy, digital world, a solidified brand purpose can do just that.

Meet Gilbert Manirakiza

Gilbert Manirakiza is a brand Leadership, PR and Strategic Communications expert with the added advantage of Multilingual Communications/Localization expertise (CIPR and AIIC member).

Prior to co-founding the Newmark Group, he had worked with the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), the IMF, FAO and the African Union among other global organizations and brands as a Communications Strategist, to build multi-layered, multilingual and multi-channel communications campaigns and systems.

He has since lent his expertise and experience to local land global blue-chips such as General Electric, Barclays Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation, Governments of Japan, France, Dubai and Singapore, just to name a few.  In addition to providing media handling, etiquette and public speaking training to Fortune 500 CEOs and senior executive, he has designed and moderated thought leadership panels during global and regional forums.

Through Newmark, he has contributed to the evolution of the PR industry in East Africa, and indeed Africa, by developing Newmark into a company that best excels at integrating digital, mobile, experiential and creative brand communications into traditional PR.

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