Everyone wants to get close to Nelson Mandela
Now in his late 80s, the former president of South Africa remains one of the world’s iconic brands who attracts visits from global politicians, business leaders and celebrities (themselves brands) seeking to benefit from a media-recorded visit with him.
Governments name streets and buildings after him, organizations pay tribute through donations to his foundations and people-in-the-street flock to be photographed next to statues erected in his honour.
Aligning his brand with the South African brand, Mandela is credited with helping the national brand improve its global profile. International campaigns to combat human suffering have benefited greatly from Mandela’s public support. whilst his outspoken views on global issues remain influential.
Being thought of as a brand would probably have amused the committed freedom fighter and nation builder, until he had to take legal actions to stop former confidants from allegedly lining their pockets by attaching his name to unauthorized commercial ventures.
People who become widely-recognized brands can broadly be grouped into one of two categories.
The first, such as entertainers, typically set out with the intention and hope of becoming a recognized brand. The second group comprises people who achieved brand status whilst doing something else.
Mandela, affectionately known by his nickname Madiba, is a firm member of the second category whose brands tend to be more resilient than ones formed by reliance on fickle consumer tastes and fleeting prowess.