Thebe Ikalafeng


Thebe Ikalafeng is arguably THE foremost global African branding and reputation architect, advisor and author. He has been named one of the ‘100 Most Influential Africans’ by New African Magazine. He has summitted the 5895m high Mount Kilimanjaro, been to over 60 countries across every region in Africa and every continent in the world, and has worked onover 100 brands across most industries in the public and private sector, gaining an incomparable perspective and experience on building brands and reputations in Africa.

In a distinguished corporate career that started at Colgate Palmolive in New York and culminated at NIKE as group marketing director for Africa, he led NIKE to the #1 brand across Africa, grew the business over 450% and earned over 75 awards in adversiting, effectiveness and marketing, including 10 Cannes Lions and the IMM “Marketing Company of the Year” Roll of Honour.

Since establishing the award-winning brand and reputation advisory firm, Brand Leadership in 2002, he has led a wide range of successful branding and related assignments, including Brand Ghana and Brand South Africa, Transnet in South Africa, Universities of South Africa and Botswana and Namibia University of Science and Technology, Zanaco Bank in Zambia, Mail&Guardian Africa in Kenya, Africa Green Revolution Forum in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Zambia, and the successful political branding and campaigns for, among others, the late President Atta Mills and President John Mahama of Ghana in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

Brand Leadership has been recognized as “Marketing Services Agency of the Year” by Fin Week (South Africa) and with several global awards for Effective Brand Transformations by REBRAND 100 (USA).

A respected and influential leader, Ikalafeng is non-executive director of Mercantile Bank Holdings (a subsidiary of Caixa CGD, the Portuguese state-owned banking corporation and the second largest bank in Portugal), the JSE listed Car Track Holdings (operating in 19 countries in Africa, Europe and Asia), Brand South Africa, WWF South Africa (WorldWideFund for Nature),South African Tourism, and chairman of Brand Finance Africa. He is a member of the Henley Africa Business School and African Business Magazine advisory boards. He is Founder & Chairman of the Brand Africa and Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands. He has served on all notable industry bodies and judged most major awards locally and globally, including a 5-year tenure as chairman of the prestigious Loeries Awards in South Africa and a jury member of the global design award, Red Dot, in Germany.

He has been recognised as one of the “Top 10 Thinkers in Marketing” in an Ipsos survey among business decision makers in Southern Africa and one of the “Top 10 Africans to follow on Twitter” by How We Made It In Africa, and earned a Marquette University/American Marketing Association award for “Marketing Excellence.” He has been featured in global and Africa media such as CNN, BBC, CNBC Africa, FT, African Business and New African.

Born in South Africa, Ikalafeng holds BSc and MBA degrees from Marquette University (USA), completed executive education at Wits Business School in South Africa and Harvard Business School and is a qualified Chartered Marketer (SA). He writes, speaks and advices on branding, reputation and related matters in Africa and the world.


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