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MTN's brand has surged this year. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
MTN's brand has surged this year. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Think of a brand and it is unlikely that a mining house will spring to mind. In the colourful world of branding and marketing, these companies are members of a grey hard-core sector and are not generally public-facing, unless there is an underground tragedy or a fall in the share price.

But this is changing. In recognition of a booming demand for commodities and reflecting the significant and increasing importance of mining brands to the SA economy, Brand Finance has, for the first time, included several in its SA 100 2022 ranking.

The largest new entrant is the 23rd-most valuable SA brand, Northam Platinum (brand value R8.1bn), with Anglo American Platinum (R5bn) at 34th place, just ahead of 36th-ranked Impala Platinum (R4.7bn).

AngloGold Ashanti (R4.1bn) was ranked 39th, ahead of Kumba Iron Ore (R3.9bn) in 40th place and Gold Fields (R3.2bn) at 43.

It is instructive to see how these values compare with the overall value of the top SA brands. MTN (brand value up 34% to R59.8bn) has retained the No 1 place on the ranking. Its brand has surged this year, returning to growth after a disappointing result in 2021. MTN’s value has extended its lead over second-ranked Vodacom (brand value up 5% to R29.9bn) meaning that MTN’s brand value is now worth almost double Vodacom’s brand value.

Today everything is brandable, from people to political parties and countries
Jeremy Sampson, MD of Brand Finance Africa

Jeremy Sampson, MD of Brand Finance Africa, says that to the uninitiated it might come as a surprise to see the emergence of mining companies among SA’s top brands. But this should not be the case.

“Today everything is brandable, from people to political parties and countries,” he says. “Like any entity, especially those listed on the JSE or elsewhere, they need to manage and market their brand and reputation. Key stakeholders will include investor relations and hiring and keeping top talent.”

Sampson says in the new world of brands and branding, where competition is intense, it is vital to have a strong and recognisable brand. “We know that strong brands add value, create loyalty, build profit margins, add certainty to sales and are often the most valuable assets of their owners.”

While the brand value of local mining companies appears robust, globally the sector remains under pressure. According to Brand Finance’s 2021 mining brand rankings of the 10 most valuable brands, only three — Glencore, Nippon Steel and Baowu — saw the value of their brands increase. BHP, named the most valuable mining brand in both years, saw its value fall 13.9% from 2020 to 2021.

This year’s local report also shows that the aggregate value of top SA brands grew 15% in a post-Covid rebound. Standard Bank edged ahead of FNB and Absa to be the most valuable SA banking brand. Checkers is the fastest-growing of all SA brands, with fellow retail brands Woolworths SA and Shoprite also growing quickly.

There will be a degree of dismay at Tiger Brands’s Bryanston headquarters as its brand value has dropped 89%. In its 2021 results presentation in late November, the packaged-goods conglomerate said a recall of 20-million Koo and Hugo’s canned vegetables and the July violence in KwaZulu-Natal had cost it R720m.

Consumer goods company RCL’s brand value is down 73%. But the company has announced what it calls a robust innovation pipeline to deliver brand extensions in the mayonnaise and frozen pie space. It is also entering into private-label partnerships.

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