Once a year the Sunday times releases the TOP BRANDS SA, using consumer interviews. The newspaper can gain a picture of South Africa’s most loved Brands in business and consumer sectors.

Why is this so important? Why do brands matter?

Brands differentiate products in the same category and create relationships with consumers. When consumers perceive a product as better than another, they are more likely to stay loyal and even pay more.

Brands differentiate themselves with unique and recognizable brand identities. There is no confusion between a box of KFC and Nando’s because each brand has its own logo, colour scheme and fonts but even more so, a brand has a personality. People can’t bond with deep fried chicken in cardboard boxes, but they can form attachments to the idea of a finger licking good meal or Nando’s spicy take on current events.

The brand articulates who is responsible for this product and therefore what to expect from it.

Although brands are intangible, they can rake in profits. Knowing, or liking, what you are getting creates extra value. This means a justifiable increased profit. Or at the same price as their competitors, strong brands have a competitive advantage.


Selling is great but repeated selling is better. Strong brands increase customer loyalty. Customers who return without having to be exposed to an expensive advertising campaign, are worthwhile.

This is shown in the way the Times measure top brands. Brands win based on market penetration, love by users and attraction by non-users. (Also included in this summary is the Sunday Times next generation brand awards to get an indication of youth favorites).

Top Brands

The most loved brand for businesses was Vodacom. (Vodacom also won first choice in business, for consumers and youth as a telecommunications Provider).

Consumers voted KOO their favorite brand.

And the upcoming generation is most impressed by Nike.

Community upliftment was won by Woolworths for businesses and awarded by consumers to Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola also won the Green Gran-Prix according to consumers and Nedbank were green according to business.

In smartphones, Apple iPhones were a favorite for CEOs but consumers and the youth preferred the Samsung brand. Similarly businesses prefer British Airways for local flights and consumers and youth agree on SAA.

For banks, the youth side with business voting in FNB and while Capitec is preferred by consumers in general.

Each group has a different preference for cars, with businesses voting Mercedes, consumers Toyota and the youth BMW.

For winners in each category:  See here

For winners in each youth category: See here

But what makes these brands so great? And how can we learn from them?

Firstly, all these brands are familiar, so much so that when we read KOO we can see the yellow circle around the letters or smell sweet corn. Each one of these logos is striking and attached to meaning. A whole range of experiences, conversations and emotions are attached to each symbol. We have all heard people talking about the products offered using these names. We all know people who are die hard Apple or Samsung consumers, or who can’t stop telling people how reliable their Toyota has been.

That’s because these brands meet a compelling need. Coca-Cola knows how tough life is. They offer you the opportunity to open up some happiness with R 16.35 and the twist of a cap. Certain brands, like Vodacom, are championed by all, but others such as Mercedes and Toyota must choose a position (luxury or tough) in order to meet the differing needs in the market.

As seen with the Youth votes, some brands will remain in favour and others will become less popular unless they’re able to pay attention to the youth, to be responsive and to change with the times both in relation to new consumers’ needs and what competitors are doing. Continuing to meet consumers’ needs is incredibly important to build love and loyalty.

When the waiter says “is Pepsi ok?” when you order a Coke, is a great example of the loyalty Coca-Cola inspires, despite Pepsi’s attempts to convince the population that they taste the same.

Pepsi doesn’t always taste the same as Coke because brands speak to both the mind and the heart. Brands offer emotional value to consumers and aid them in building identity and enriching life experiences. That’s why branded businesses are valued more, have more loyal customers and greater profits.

sunday-times-top brands sa 2016

sunday-times-top next gen sa 2016




Written by Abigail Koch, Abigail is a student of psychology and anthropology at the University of Witwatersrand. She is a young writer and a published children’s book writer and illustrator. Her interest in marketing, strategy and behavioral economics allows her to be a specialist projects consultant and designer.