Inspired by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s remarks that he dreamt of “the first new city built in the democratic era”, the theme for the 2019 Nation Brand Forum, proudly hosted by Brand South Africa, was ‘Reviving South Africa’s National Brand Identity and Narrative’.

Brand South Africa, the official marketing agency of our beautiful country, has a clear mission to build the country’s brand reputation, improve its global competitiveness, and promote country pride among South Africans to foster nation building and social cohesion. The Nation Brand Forum, which invites industry leaders to join in the conversation, was hosted by Brand South Africa at Urban Tree in Kramerville, Johannesburg, on 28 October. Stakeholders from across the spectrum of government, finance, media, and marketing led the discussions which explored avenues where South Africans can consolidate their common identity.

Setting the tone of hope and inspiration the morning kicked off to an exhilarating start as MC Joanne Joseph led the opening with the singing of the South African National Anthem.

Inspired by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s remarks that he dreamt of “the first new city built in the democratic era”, the theme for the 2019 Nation Brand Forum, proudly hosted by Brand South Africa, was ‘Reviving South Africa’s National Brand Identity and Narrative’.

Welcoming guests and stirring in everyone such pride to be South African, Minister Jackson Mthembu expressed his gratitude to Brand South Africa for creating this important platform for deliberation where industry leaders can consciously and significantly contribute to building our nation. During his keynote address he shared how South Africans – still high as a nation from the recent successes in rugby and netball – are united by sport and further noted how local artists like DJ Black Coffee and Sho Majozi are recognised on the international stage.

Minister Mthembu shared many notable achievements that we as a young democracy have accomplished and which have positioned us as an inspirational nation to be reckoned with. Our democracy embodied through our freedom of expression and free and fair elections demonstrate a mature democracy serving all South Africans.

Minister Mthembu applauded Brand South Africa’s contribution to strengthening the country’s competitiveness as presented through impressive rankings globally and highlighted our impressive 35th position in the world for high tech capabilities. This bodes exceptionally well for South Africa’s culture and talent for innovation.

Although we have much to be proud of and have made many strides forward in building our nation, Minister Mthembu urged us to always strive for a violence-free country in light of the recent intolerable acts of violence toward women, children and foreigners. He also noted that our current realities have tainted the national brand, including issues of corruption and state capture, but that President Ramaphosa is proud of steps taken to eradicate corruption through the Zondo commission.

Ending on a positive note, Minister Mthembu reminded the audience that we have much on offer for the world to fall in love with us, and to look to these things as we focus on Vision 2030. He called for South Africans to join the efforts of Brand South Africa. Nation building is a shared responsibility, he said, and challenged artists, media, businesspeople and all South Africans to find our niche as a country.

Following Minister Mthembu’s thought-provoking address, Founder of Brand Leadership, Thebe Ikalafeng, took to the stage to share his views on the role of the ‘identity’ in the narrative of the country. With brilliant story-telling skills he recalled inspiring accounts of his travels through every country in Africa and urged all South Africans to get to know the continent and to understand its people. He spoke about our great father, Mandela, and how the world continues to recognise us through his legacy.

Aligned to building tourism in South Africa, Mr Ikalafeng challenged the audience to take an adventure and to explore our land. He reminded us of the many things we have accomplished and urged us to remember the events and the people who paved the way for us.

Thulisile Manzini, ACEO Brand SA, thanked the audience for sharing their insights and for their open participation in shaping our nation’s brand. She called on South Africans to support local brands and to turn home-grown products and brands into a believable and trustworthy brand promise, and invited everyone to join hands in assisting Brand South Africa to tell a beautiful and inspiring story of our most fascinating nation, South Africa.