Municipal brands are like bank accounts

Steve Jobs once said that brands are like ATM’s. You deposit. Or you withdraw. Often that withdrawal takes place over time.

The bank account and municipalities.

Using the bank account analogy, one seldom closes an account overnight. There are debit orders, funding facilities, and other aspects to think about. One does however start investigating other options and opening new deposit and investment accounts until you’re ready to switch over.

The same applies to municipalities.

Damage done before the account is emptied.

Instead of figuring how to grow a business in a region managed by a poor performing municipality, one focuses on researching more suitable environments which can satisfy your aspirations and reduce risk. You may not withdraw your cash yet, but you stop depositing while you figure the future. The same applies to individuals. Instead of looking to buy an investment property or open a small business in an unstable environment, they look elsewhere and when they find it, they empty their account with you.

Low Road vs High Road municipal brands.

Brands are all about what your audience experiences. What they say about you. And what they think. What is it about you that resonates with them?

The answer to the question is less complex than imagined when we compare two municipalities against each other in a simplified brand DNA example, with the brand values representing how the municipal brand informs the community’s psyche, and therefore creates the municipal brand itself.


West Coast District Municipality

These dreaded 4 D’s cause one to stop depositing and eventually empty the ATM, compared to the High Road below. Not only does the Low Road cause migration and disinvestment but a natural consequence is unrest which accelerates disinvestment.


West Coast District Municipality

The High Road finds investment and attracts migration. Few municipalities can claim the High Ground but for those who can, what is their next level? How will they become Super Municipality Brands?

Looking beyond the qualifying traits.

One would think that brand traits or features such as clean governance and a solid infrastructure would be commodities or qualifiers for municipalities but sadly, as noble as they are, they’re differentiators in South Africa.

Municipalities such as Weskus Distrik are now moving beyond the expected or desired and looking for ways to differentiate themselves through smart city, power generation and other initiatives. Their brand will evolve and meet or exceed the expectations and needs of their communities.

Local municipalities will need to become brand-centric, deliver on their brand promises, and start positioning themselves beyond the expected to attract like-minded investors, new residents, and create environments where their communities can live, strive, and thrive.

Gary Hendrickse
Brand Strategist
Sherpa Brand & Design.


West Coast District Municipality

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