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Brand Health

Diagnosing Your Brand’s Health


Achieving Meaningful Difference to consumers is the key to success. BrandZ™ data show that five key areas influence a brand's Meaningful Difference - the more of these areas a brand can perform well on, the more likely it is to achieve value growth. The healthiest brands in the world will all tend to score well on these.


The Big 5

The five dimensions are:



Making people's lives better.



Driving leadership credentials via creativity and disruption.



Delivery of memorable and engaging advertising.


Brand Experience

Meeting needs in a unique way.



Fostering an emotional connection.


These five measures come together to form a brand's 'Vitality Quotient' or vQ, which shows a very clear relationship with Meaningful Difference; the higher a brand’s vQ score, the more Meaningfully Different it is to consumers.



Healthy brands begin with a purpose. It does not need to be a grand purpose about changing the world, but it does need to be a clear purpose that leaves consumers believing that, in some way, the brand is improving their lives.


Purpose is the reason the brand exists; the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. South African brands that have the strongest sense of purpose are Dis- Chem Pharmacy and Clicks. This likely reflects the clarity with which they go to market. Consumers know what they’re getting from these brands, and the role they play in making their lives better. NetCare and Mediclinic are other brands  in the health and wellness area that also show up strongly when it comes to purpose, suggesting a resonant theme for South Africans.



Brands become stronger when consumers see them accomplishing their Brand Purpose through innovation. Consumers see innovative brands as Meaningfully Different from the competition, as leading their categories and setting trends. Technology can play a significant role in driving the perception of a brand as innovative, but all efforts to challenge and improve on the status quo can have an impact, whether digital or analogue. Capitec epitomizes this point, having taken on the banking industry and achieved enormous growth in a relatively short time, as well as changing the rules of the game by introducing a number of much needed innovations.  


Of all the brand health dimensions, Innovation scores the weakest for the South African Top 30 brands. Closer investigation involves splitting Innovation into the three facets that drive it, namely Creativity, Disruption and Leadership. This analysis reveals that the South African Top 30 underperforms on Disruption compared to the Top 30s of countries in the rest of the world, while the other two areas are on par.


This is not to say that no brands are seen as Innovative in this market. Quite the contrary. There are a number of brands outside of the South African Top 30 that have scored quite strongly on Innovation overall, and in particular have dominated the area of Creativity. Brands in the Top 30 should see this as a warning sign, as these brands are sure to see an increase in their brand value over time if they can consolidate their positions as some of the most innovative in the country.



To benefit from Brand Purpose and Innovation, brands need to amplify these indicators with effective advertising and other relevant communication. Brand Purpose and Innovation produce good stories, and the stories need to be told.

Nando’s leads in this area, with consistently provocative and humourous communications. The brand never misses an opportunity to find the funny side of even the most austere of situations. All of this plays a significant role in amplifying the perceptions of the brand as  a disruptor, and goes a long way towards bolstering its overall health.

First National Bank is another brand that has benefited from a number of memorable campaigns, which have clearly left a lasting impression with South African consumers.



Communicating a brand’s story well helps persuade consumers to try the brand—as opposed to trying

a competitive brand. If the Brand Experience delivers the promised Brand Purpose and Innovation, consumers are more likely to come back for more.

Takealot shows that the brand experience is holistic, and not limited to the moment of purchase. Browsing and purchasing on the

site or app is surely not hugely differentiated from other similar online retailers, but the brand has managed to secure a strong showing in terms of consumer perceptions around brand experience.

Woolworths on the other hand

has a much more tangible claim to the experience throne. The brand combines consistency across platforms and media with quality that South Africans are more than happy to pay for. Store layouts, service and policies all contribute to a positive experience.


The outcome is Love, which adds resilience and helps brands sustain their relationship with consumers over time.

Brands that manage to earn the love of consumers notably receive loyalty and forgiveness, and often the ability to charge a price premium. But only the few brands that have managed to clarify and land their purpose while innovating and consistently delivering a compelling experience, are likely to build an emotional connection.

Brands like KOO and Fatti’s & Moni’s have been household names and much beloved brands for generations. They’ve proven their commitment to consumers, and earned their place in the kitchen on a daily basis.

Winning Strategies

The brands that top the list are from a wide range of industries, but stand out by delivering clarity, innovation, and a great experience.

Many of the brands with the highest vQ have consistently delivered strong brand experiences for many years, while others have secured their places by aligning with rising technologies.

Brands can build their brand’s health through:


Delivering clear and consistent communications across all touchpoints and ensuring that all customer interactions with the brand reinforce the brand’s purpose and values.

Leveraging the power of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other technology tools to individualize interactions on digital platforms, but don’t forget that great face-to-face interactions are often more telling than the anonymity of the digital experience.

Focusing on a small number of improvement areas. Using these areas as starting points will yield better results than trying to tackle too much at once.