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Brand resilience: The key to business survival in 2023?

Resilience is increasingly recognised as a key skill for thriving in the future workplace. By extension, brand resilience is equally important in crowded marketplaces, plagued by economic headwinds.

A number of industry leaders shared their views on what brand resilience means to them, and the consensus is that resilient brands prioritise the needs of their customers, backed by agile operational models that ensure business relevance at all times.

In fact, Zuko Mdwaba, Area Vice President and Country Leader, Salesforce South Africa, believes that brand resilience and brand relevance go hand in hand. ‘Relevant brands speak to the needs and preferences of the market, with the result that half the brand resilience battle is won. But relevance is a moving target, and with the pace of change in most markets today, the challenge is one that cannot be tackled without the right tools in the form of relevant customer data,’ he says.

With data playing a more important role than ever in understanding and reaching audiences, brands need to invest in tools and technologies that unify data efficiently, allowing them to create unique customer profiles, execute automated campaigns and infuse personalisation at scale.

‘Personalisation is about more than targeted messaging, it’s hyper-personal understanding. This explains why, as demand for data-driven, personalised and scalable customer experiences continues to rise, more brands are investing in the power of artificial intelligence (AI). Leveraging dynamic customer insights is essential to every businesses’ ability to adapt their strategies and optimise the impact of each interaction. Increasingly, this is where brand resilience will start,’ Mdwaba explains.

Brent Haumann, Managing Director at digital communications firm Tilte, echoes Mdwaba’s sentiment. ‘To remain resilient, organisations across the continent would do well to make brand enhancements in line with accelerations in technology, customer experiences and customer expectations.’

According to Haumann, we are living in an unprecedented era of technological acceleration. Nowhere is that more true than in the customer experience space. ‘In Africa, on the one hand, unlike in the so-called “first world” economies, some common services like the post office are either highly inefficient or have ceased to exist at all. On the other hand, across the continent, things that seemed totally implausible a decade ago are now commonplace and almost taken for granted. These technological advancements are shaping customer expectations,’ explains Haumann.

Harnessing technological advancements to meet and definite the dynamic needs of customers is something MFS Africa recognise as central to their success as it is particularly true of the mobile money and digital payments market. In this market, solutions must be tailored to suit the various needs of different demographics who increasingly require access to products and services that enable them to transact accordingly.

A report by Deloitte entitled “Connecting meaningfully in the new reality” points out that hyper-personalisation has become crucial for banks in elevating the customer journey through technology, increasing customer satisfaction and improving financial inclusion.

As such, MFS Africa strives to continuously connect senders, recipients and service providers across the continent. The organisation’s full-service digital payments network connects over 400 million mobile money wallets and over 200 million bank accounts across Africa, and over 200 000 agents in Nigeria, to enable cross-platform and cross-border payments for remittance companies, mobile network operators, banks, non-bank financial institutions and global.

‘Brand resilience may rely on relevance and be strengthened through meeting customer needs, but resilience is also about having brand equity,’ says Glenn Gillis, CEO at Sea Monster South Africa. ‘Resilience is really about having a much deeper relationship with your client that is based not only on extrinsic but intrinsic factors.’

Gillis believes that this is where games can play a big role because they can help balance the nature of the relationship and expose some of the softer, storytelling elements of equity that are built up in brands. ‘Through games, brands can engage with customers in a way that is really about a fair exchange of value – not only at the time of purchase but also at the time of consideration. Of course, you have to get the transactional piece right in order to remain competitive, but in actuality, relevance and resilience is going to come from the depth of your relationship with clients and the knowledge that you have about them and that they have about you. Fostering a sense of brand loyalty is therefore crucial,’ he shares.

Brand resilience may mean different things to different brands at different times, but that the wellbeing of the brand and its customers must be prioritised is true, irrespective of industry.

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