Fast food franchises are usually focused on one thing – selling food. That’s it. But one South African brand has definitely pushed the envelope when it comes to brand positioning – and that brand is Nando’s.

South Africans across the globe have all felt the appeal and kinship with the Nando’s chain, in particular when it comes to their quirky, daring and tongue-in-cheek adverts which have become the voice of the disgruntled South African public. Because Nando’s has tapped into South Africa’s pressure-release valve – our sense of humour.

Where it all began

This would not have been possible without co-founder and former CEO Robbie Brozin’s input. Brozin, along with friend Fernando Duarte, bought Chickenland restaurant in Rosettenville in 1987. From humble beginnings the Nando’s restaurant chain was established and it’s taken the international world by storm, with more than 1 000 restaurants in America, Australia, the UK, Fiji, Bangladesh and more.

More than a fast-food chain

Nando’s focus, from its first inception, has always been wider than feeding mouths. Brozin’s own view has always been to “change people’s lives, one chicken at a time”, and as inconceivable as it sounds, this is exactly what Nando’s has achieved.

Today, Nando’s boasts international acclaim, with fans like President Barack Obama, Rihanna, Beyonce, David Beckham, David Cameron and Lewis Hamilton it’s clear that Nando’s has made its mark on the world.

From business to pleasure

Although Brozin completed his BCom degree, he failed his accountancy exams at varsity. But it was an altogether different story when it came to entrepreneurship – something he seemed to have a natural knack for.

Having worked at Deloitte and Price Waterhouse, he’s always been very clear about how much he’s loathed working in the financial industry – but when it comes to his fast food chain, it was love at first sight. Perhaps it’s because Brozin’s interest has always been in people. He loves seeing people enjoy meals, but the business has become more than a feeding mechanism, as Brozin has increasingly taken part in and supported philanthropic initiatives.

The art of it all

In addition to the quirky adverts, Nando’s is also one of the few restaurants to buy and display custom art. Nando’s claims to be the biggest buyer of South African contemporary art, and supports upcoming artists from across the country.

But the support doesn’t stop there. Nando’s has put its weight behind local design through a programme which curates and buys South African furniture and decor items for use in restaurants across the world. The move has not only impressed patrons at their shop, but lead to increased exposure for South African artists and designers.

Putting their money where their mouths are

What is so impressive about Nando’s is that it’s seemed to have managed to become a brand which speaks for the people on all levels. With Brozin’s vision, the company has truly harnessed the power of branding – they seemed to have grasp that sales and support are secondary to building a lovable, fun and compassionate brand – and that you would automatically make sales once you’ve garnered the support of the people.

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