BRANDS make money. There have been any number of books written on brands — I haven’t read any of them, but I can tell you this: an established brand gives you the right to charge a premium. Brands are to their products (a bit) like price-earnings multiples are to share prices. They encompass the expectations of their consumers, they are the rating. SA Inc is also a brand, and we’re about to get rated. Let’s hope they still believe. I was driving along the N4, on the way to Mpumalanga, leaving pollution, politics and the rand-dollar exchange rate behind, off for the weekend. En route you pass through the eastern industrial area of Johannesburg, with practically wall-to-wall factories on either side of the highway. I was surprised at how many brands I didn’t recognise, maybe because the products they manufacture (obviously successfully, judging by the extent of their facilities) are more often — I’m guessing — the component parts of the final products we more readily recognise. Despit...

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