Category Archives: Mark Lives

The Real McCoy: Cry the internal brand

As neither political analyst nor commentator, I approach this space with caution — yet with equal passion and rigour — on the subject of the South African internal brand at such a tumultuous time in our young democracy. This column preparation coincides with two rating-agency downgrades following the dismissal of our minister of finance and the inexplicable midnight cabinet reshuffle announced by President Jacob Zuma, resulting in an unprecedented move by a diverse spectrum of South Africans and civil society to march upon our very president and demand his resignation in order to save the country.... Read On

Of startups, challengers and nation brands

It is always opportune to reflect on the state of the nation, insofar as our own internal psyche and behaviour are concerned when compared to other parts of the world. This idea was amplified again for me when reading Dan Senor and Saul Singer’s book, Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle in an interesting account of how this tiny country, faced with immense adversity on multiple fronts, has achieved such amazing economic success.... Read On

Use your second chance properly

I’ve always held the view that we all make mistakes, and perfect delivery each time is damn hard. My maxim, however, has been that, when you screw up, how you respond to the mistake or customer’s complaint does matter and may make the difference. If you get a second chance, then use it well in dealing with a complaint or addressing the product or service malfunction. Customer service 101, I guess.... Read On

Staying the course with internal branding

Is it a cycle?

I’m always the first to concede that we shouldn’t live life through our own home movie, but unfortunately this column has been triggered by an in-flight experience aboard the airline from Cape Town back to Johannesburg, or Lanseria, more specifically. And a simple and easily avoidable one at that.... Read On

Agency culture — how indie beats the multinationals

The debate of the large international group vs the local independent agency is not a new one and is not my focus today. It is, however, evident that the independent agency, specifically one in which the founders are still involved, occupies a special space, particularly when it comes to creating a unique and differentiated culture.... Read On

Rebels with a cause

Following a series of workshops I have recently concluded across five SADC countries, engaging some 300 people in the process of brand-building from the inside out, I feel compelled to share some thoughts and insights from a leading conservation business in Africa, which has been shaping the industry for some 30 years and is very successfully adopting some of the fundamental principles of internal brand engagement.... Read On

Putting lipstick on the pig not a sustainable model

I was initially alarmed and dismayed by a headline in the April edition of Harvard Business Review, only to settle down in understanding and agreement once I had read it properly. Titled “Culture is not the culprit” by Jay Lorsch and Emily McTague, the authors analyse four companies through the lens of CEO leadership and strategy, and make the case for focusing upon business basics, rather than culture, as the solution.... Read On

The airline that carries its heart on its planes

Not every organisation is marketing- and communication-minded but those that are tend to drive this function on a continuous basis. They advertise, promote or brand regularly, and some of the variables are the extent of the budget, the channels of communication and the market messages. Why then do companies take a different approach to organisational health, people and culture?... Read On

Building a purpose-driven creative agency

The local creative and communication industry certainly doesn’t lack talent and South African agencies have, over the years, held high acclaim in many parts of the world. In comparing ourselves globally, however, across industries, it is hard to establish whether we have done this through unique agency cultures or whether it is simply our talent pool, hard work and can-do attitude that have prevailed.... Read On