Friday, November 30, 2007

"I have black friends"

This week, the owner of a tourist complex at the outskirts of Johannesburg was murdered. He had immigrated in the 1950s from Germany. In reporting about the incident, it was emhpasised that he loved Africa and that he said he wanted to make Africa work, with Africa. Or something similar, I do not recall the exact wording.

In the blog 'Constitutionally speaking', a heated debate ensued over HIV/Aids. black participant wrote that he was tired of white people who felt the need to say that they had black friends, how they liked black people or that they had voted for the ANC.

Why is there such a need to say these things in contemporary South Africa? Because race is still over burdened with history. White people who do not recognize themselves in the history of apartheid, who do not think that a black government is equal to failure, who do not contemplate emigration and who don't see themselves as superior to black people seem to feel the need to distinguish themselves from those who do all these things. (That they are still alive, but not necessarily in the country, tells you Aubrey Matshiqi in his recent BD column.)
But it is also because the label 'racist' is easily deployed in order to silence critiques. And "new" white South Africans feel the need to distinguish themselves from "old" ones.

Suspicion and lack of trust looms large in debates straddling the colour line.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Branding the self

Some might be concerned that marketers now want us to extend branding from products and corporations to countries and individuals. Why should everything be commercialized, they may ask? Yet, have human beings not always worked on their image and tried to fashion themselves according to certain ideals? In Renaissance France, the 'in' man wanted to be a 'gentilhomme', well versed in poetry and literature, with loads of panache and wit, and capable of horse riding and fencing. So the six steps to develop your brand are the following:

1. Purpose. You want to have a higher, guding principle in your life - making money alone will not do. Rather, think where you would like to make a difference: what is your contribution to humanity?

2. Passion. What gets you excited? Whatever you do, your passion (or non-passion) will come out, so identitfy what you like to do and go for it.

3. Planning. Develop your brand does not happen overnight. It requires continuous work. Plan and strategize, and work on developing your own brand.

4. People. Your brand is related to the people around you. A strong individual brand reflects the people network around you.

5. Play. Brand development has to be fun. Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it. And you and your brand will see much appreciation.

6. Perseverance. There will be fat and meagre years. In meagre years, stay put and continue on the road you embarked. Hard times build character, as some say. A strong brand develops its distinctive characteristics in tough times.