SANRAL is an everyday brand for millions of South Africans. People use their infrastructure to get to work, to get children to school, to get to the shops, to transport goods from city to city; dorpie to dorpie. As the National Roads Agency, SANRAL are extremely proud of the crucial role they play in the country and of the infrastructure that they manage. South Africa’s national highway network is truly of world-class standards. Think of the likes of the N1 to Cape Town, the N3 to Durban, the Gauteng Freeway Network including William Nicol and Lynnwood Road Interchanges, the Huguenot Tunnel, the new Mount Edgecombe and Umgeni Interchanges, the Polokwane Ring Road or…. the list goes on and on. Just pause to remember your last road trip on the national highways, and the quality of the roads you enjoyed. Here-in the crux of the issue; in the world of brands and branding there are the cool categories and the not-so-cool categories. There are labels that are worn on a sleeve with pride, and then there are those that go unnoticed, or worse; looked at with prejudice.
The sad truth is that South Africans either love to hate their parastatals, or simply take them for granted. As a brand, SANRAL’s roads are used daily but many people are not aware of their interaction with the brand because they don’t have a logo staring them in the face every time, they use the network as they would with a cell phone, cooldrink or car brand. However, if SANRAL failed to deliver, then they would be noticed; which is essentially what has happened with other state-owned entities.
Clearly then, SANRAL needs to market their value and build their brand equity. Many SANRAL road users may never love them; they are not a ‘cool’ badge brand; but they still aim to gain respect and appreciation for the value they deliver to our country – and to achieve this they have undertaken the
approach of ‘brand building’.
Understanding that this journey would be neither quick nor easy, SANRAL started out with an evolutionary change of the logo in 2017; the intent being to acknowledge where they came from and simultaneously signal change. Instead of the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited, for logo, the name was simplified to just ‘SANRAL’. Short and straight and to the point. They chose a modern typeface, with a focus on legibility. The icon was cleaned up with the ‘road’ clearly evident, and the colour palette was refreshed, making it richer and crisper. The result was a more modern, legible and easily identifiable logo.
Coupled with the logo change, SANRAL also refreshed the visual identity of their communications and introduced the brand campaign line ‘Beyond Roads’, which sums up the fact that SANRAL deliver so much more than just roads; and this concept has been espoused in each of their brand campaigns to date.change, SANRAL also refreshed the visual identity of their communications and introduced the brand campaign line ‘Beyond Roads’, which sums up the fact that SANRAL deliver so much more than just roads; and this concept has been espoused in each of their brand campaigns to date.
SANRAL started by focusing on the benefits that their national roads provide on a daily basis, with the intent being to add warmth, emotion and a human touch to what is otherwise primarily cold, hard concrete and bitumen. The first brand campaign launched in 2017 and was led by the TV commercial entitled ‘Family Reunion’ which told the story of how SANRAL helps to connect different family members from far and wide, for a family celebration.
This was followed up in 2018 with the ‘Coffee’ campaign that communicated how SANRAL helps to facilitate South African business and grow our economy. Given that approximately 80% of all goods are transported by road hauliers, their intent was to again highlight the importance of the national roads network, this time from a business perspective. Showcasing how the network is essential for everyone from the farmer through to the end consumer. In 2019, SANRAL launched the third campaign in the series, where they moved away from the social and economic benefits that the national roads deliver and closed the loop by going back to the basics of what it is that SANRAL actually does – manage, maintain, design, upgrade and build the best highway infrastructure in Africa; if not the world.
For this campaign, they drew parallels with the story of one of South Africa’s greatest musical groups, Grammy Award winners Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Like SANRAL, theirs is a story of humble beginnings, unprecedented growth and more importantly of a brand that has stayed loyal and true to South Africa. SANRAL got to be the first and only brand to celebrate the Ladysmith Black Mambazo story, whilst telling the SANRAL story at the same time, Their music was key, helping SANRAL to build the emotional connection and foster national pride, as SANRAL strives to build appreciation of the value that their brand delivers.
If you have not yet seen the SANRAL brand adverts please do yourself a favour and have a look online. May you enjoy traveling on the national roads as much as SANRAL enjoy managing and marketing them!