This year was extraordinary for so many reasons. Since March, our heads have not stopped spinning for many of us. For brands, 2020 was a year when many were forced to rediscover if they had a purpose, what that purpose is, and how they plan to anchor their place in the world and keep their promise.

Choosing which brands stood out from the rest, and which ones missed the ball can be a difficult and daunting task. Especially this year when many brands performed on so many dimensions.

It’s a Pat from us

A number of brands were celebrated on the Pat on Brands platform. Such as Dr. Esther Mahlangu, who did amazing work this year, not only did she collaborate with Rolls Royce on their flagship car, the Phantom. Dr. Esther Mahlangu also partnered with media mogul, Carol Bouwer on her Carol Bouwer luxury handbags and created a selection of Ndebele-inspired bags.

 We discussed the impact that Covid-19 had on the world, and how some brands took to the fore and brought awareness about the pandemic. Brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Mercedes, and Lifebuoy took to social media to encourage South Africans to abide by the rules and stay home, through various campaigns.

Maxhosa, Rich Mnisi x Karabo Poppy as well as Ntozinhle Lifestyle showcased the beauty of South African culture through the use of different patterns and designs in their fashion collections and homeware pieces respectively.

Laduma, founder and designer of Maxhosa

We also put the spotlight on new and upcoming South African brands that showcased creativity and digital innovation. Mara Phones, SoBae Frozen, Enda Sportswear, Yococo, and Amasiko Brewery all made our list of the brands to look out for in the future.

These brands and many others like them spent time and resources burnishing a positive reputation. One that exudes good faith and is paramount to holding the confidence and trust of their consumers.


However, in an era where news and information travel at the speed of light, even the smallest of scandals can lead to major problems in a hurry, creating a bad reputation for the brand that may require no end of resources and time to fully recover.

Clicks felt the brunt of a scandal when an advert on their website portrayed black women’s hair as untidy and unkempt while showcasing white women’s hair as “normal”. Social media was fuming and black women all over the country stood up to share their take on the matter. Influencers, politicians and many individuals ensured raised their concerns and Clicks eventually apologized for the offensive Tresseme advert.

Click hair campaign

Another brand that received many Slaps from our audience is Mr. Price for their container store idea that was set to launch in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The concept was to make their clothing more accessible in rural areas, however many people thought the concept to be in poor taste.

2021 and beyond

The year 2020 has shown that in order for brands to continue garnering positive public perceptions, they need to be innovative, show creativity, and meet their consumer wherever they are. The future consumer is conscious and will carefully choose brands based on their values, reputation, and social standing.

Will brands continue to change the industry in 2021 and will those that disappointed us make a comeback? Stay tuned to the Pat on Brands social media pages to hear the latest in brand news and marketing trends in 2021.


Nomakhaya Makhaya

Nomakhaya Makhaya is a B.A. Journalism graduate.

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