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Rex Branding and Design: Rudo Botha & Olivier Schildt

Top designers get back to basics and provide branding solutions for business problems

Juliet Pitman



Rudo Botha & Olivier Schildt of REX Branding

“Traditional marketing methods areexhausted and can’t meet the needs of new culture or engage relevantly with thenew generation out there.” It’s a bold statement, particularly considering itcomes from a company that makes its money in the branding and marketing space.But Rudo Botha and Olivier Schildt, co-founders of Rex Branding and Design,stand by their belief that branding and design need to change in order to addreal value to businesses. “In the past, businesses saw designers as people withponytails who drew pretty pictures and made things look good, but who weren’treally involved in the ‘real’ stuff of business,” says Botha.

But as the market has changed, so theapproach to branding and design needs to change as well. Botha explains: “For along time, marketing has been about a brand pushing itself onto themarketplace. But the new generation knows more, has greater access toinformation and choice and forms its own opinions. They have far greater powerto choose whether to engage with a brand or not.” Rex believes that brandingand design should be about helping companies to solve business problems.“Design is just the vehicle – it’s a reallysimple function that many branding firms have complicated over time. You take abusiness challenge and you solve it beautifully.”

Fulfilling this function is what Rex doesbest. The company was the only South African business invited by Coca-Cola,together with 125 artists from around the world, to participate in the remixand reinvention of 125 years of Coca-Cola marketing material. Each design team–which included the likes of Sir Peter Blake who designed the cover of theBeatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – was briefed to reinvent the material to create a series of fresh visuals inspired by the brand’s‘Coke Side of Life’ positioning statement and reflect Coke’s ‘happiness in abottle’ mantra. Rex’s remix tells an African story using the universal languagecreated by Coca-Cola over the years.But, as Botha explains, the job was aboutmore than just ‘creating pretty pictures’. “Today’s audiences don’t have thesame emotional connection to brands that their parents did. For a lot oftoday’s kids, Coca-Cola is something you drink when you’re thirsty that comesin a red and white can. For Coke to be guaranteed a future, it really needed toengage with the youth market, to make a connection and give them a reason tostart engaging with the brand.”

How to do this? “By creating brandmeaning,” says Botha. Which brings him back to his first statement aboutexhausted traditional marketing methods. “In the design space, there are threespheres: traditional marketing, on which we believe far too much emphasis hasbeen placed in the past; brand visibility, which people are starting to use andunderstand; and brand culture.” For Rex, it is this third sphere that createsthe kind of meaning that will attract and engage audiences. “So, from Coke’spoint of view, yes you need to use traditional marketing methods and you needto increase brand visibility, but that’s only part of the solution. You need tocreate meaning for audiences first, give them a reason to feel an emotionalconnection to the culture of a brand. If branding companies can design suchmeaning and let the visibility reflect that meaning, then they’re really addingvalue to a business.”It’s the way this design team approachesall its work – from huge projects like Coca-Cola, to small jobs for one-manstart-up companies. “We first try to understand the business problem orchallenge. So a client may brief us to design a good-looking interface on theirATMs for example. We explain to them that we’ll get there but we need tounderstand the business issue first – the reason they feel they need a newinterface and what they hope it will achieve. For us, this understanding iscentral to designing a solution. It’s about beginning with the end in mind. Wecould of course, go straight to the design solution and create an interfacewith cool graphics, but it wouldn’t be adding any real value, and it’s not whatwe’re about,” says Botha. It’s simple stuff, he concludes, but it requires bigvision thinking. Contact: +27 11 781 5442;

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.


25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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