Ubuntu: Where brands get it wrong

Ubuntu is the connected African spirit. It is the spirit of togetherness and people living with the ability to make positive change for one another. Being one of the most fundamental sentiment of our society. It is not even something one thinks about or considers but something that is deeply entrenched in the DNA of every African’s individual.

Innovative brands don’t say they are innovative, they create innovation. Cool brands don’t not say they cool, they act cool and people decide if they are cool or no. Just much as a brand cannot claim they are a trustable brand, they earn peoples trust. The same sentiment applies when it comes to Ubuntu.

South African and to the bigger extent Africans in general understand and already know what Ubuntu is and what the spirit of Ubuntu is all about. Thus for brands to merely state write and talk about the sentiment and spirit of Ubuntu, does not mean that they live and practice the spirit of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu is not a a catch phrase, or a trend that can be hashtaggged. It is a way of life that is deeply entrenched within African societies and communities. It is one of the most important fundamentals to live by as an African.

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Thus Ubuntu is not something that can be used as a marketing campaign Idea, a promotion or brand building communication exercise. It is a way of conducting business, that should be the principle on how the brand interacts with its consumer’s. It is a set of values that a brand must live by, or portray in society or the consumer landscape. In fact it is a word that should not be mentioned, but through the brand’s actions, can the consumer’s say – that brand has the spirit of Ubuntu.

We as marketers tend to take on trends, cultural beliefs that exists within society and think that by merely stating that we have identified and are aware of them, it will be sufficient to get us into consumer’s hearts. The truth is one needs to show through their actions and way of doing business so that people will understand and resonate to your brand and over and above that become your loyal consumer based on the societal principles your brand has shown.

Ubuntu is not a catch phrase or a sentiment that goes onto a manifesto to simply explain the concept. It is something that brands need to practically apply within society. Its about time brands realise that they are more than products or services, but rather members of society themselves. As members of societies they need to act like citizens and not corporates, that need to live with the same principles that people live by. Once we as brands and marketers start being about the people, and living amongst people, we will develop far deeper connections with our consumers beyond just a transactional relationship.

About the author

Founder and Trend Analyst at TrendER Insights. Mogorosi's passion lies in unearthing consumer insights that will help brands build more meaningful relationships with their consumers. Email: mogorosi@trender.co.za

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