The news wires and tweets are alive with words to express the appreciation of the life of Nelson Mandela. I never met the man. The closest I ever came to him was when I was working on South Africa Tourism when the great man was President.
Like others, I had expected his death, considering his age and ongoing medical fight with a lung infection. Still, just like the death of Steve Jobs a couple of years ago, I was emotionally unprepared for the plethora of feelings that swept over me when I learned of his death.
Great lives inspire us. When we have personal principles and ideals in the lives we live, we see these aspirational values in the humans we admire. We see a reflection of what we CAN be when we are at our best.
Mandela was one of these for me. I admired his life and relished the fact that a man such as this lived among us. Today, we are not on our own as long as we learn from the life he lived.
Nelson Mandela was more than a brand
I don’t want to appear trite here. In many ways, what I am about to say may be taken poorly. What I can assure you is that in my own way, this is the highest tribute I can offer this giant of a man from South Africa.
You see, I am a brand man. I look at the world as a jigsaw puzzle of brands. Some are large, some are small and some are crucial. Some, I simply do not know how to live without.
Nelson Mandela had the greatest brand. He stood alone in my heart, a man whose life’s spark made me feel comforted and hopeful.
When I turn my creative self to building a brand, I have a few axioms that are a near perfect predictor to that brand’s success. I list them here, in this tribute to Mandela, and you will quickly understand why.
Is the brand message important? Does it reflect an important need? Is it aspirational? Is it consistent? Is it believable? Is it authentic? Is it focused (could you predict how it might act)?
Godspeed, Nelson Mandela. You are the real thing.