After more than 13 years at retailer Woolworths, Brian Mtongana has recently been appointed Executive Creative Director of the brand.
Brian Mtongana: Source: Supplied.
Bizcommunity spoke to Mtongana about his future vision for Woolworths and what inspires him on a daily basis.
Congratulations on your new appointment, what do you think?
I feel truly honored and privileged to be the creative guardian of this incredible and much-loved premium South African brand and to be part of a new journey as we take the brand to new heights.
What is your vision of yourself in this new role?
My vision is to shape and refresh the brand to make it more exciting, relevant and inspiring for our customers. It’s also about increasing creativity to create a more emotional connection with the brand.
You have been with Woolworths for 13 years, how will you use this experience in the future?
The experience will be essential as I have a deep understanding of the brand, having been design director for all these years, overseeing branding, communication design and packaging design, and having led and collaborated on award-winning projects that have been recognized locally and internationally. Now I will look at how can I help create emotional connection and relevance for South Africans through innovative brand communication.
What have been some of the highlights of your career?
There are many but I will only count a few. Designing the patch for Mark Shuttleworth’s spacesuit as it launched to the International Space Station was a highlight. Official invitation design for 2010 FIFA World Cup Confederation Cup held in South Africa and worked in Australia in 2018.
I have also served as Creative Circle Awards Jury President and Loeries (Student Awards) Jury President and have helped companies win local and international awards. I’ve also had the privilege of traveling the world for trends and research, which has broadened my knowledge and exposure to the world of retail.
What inspires your creativity?
All! Food, music, nature, culture, travel because I am very curious. Human behavior also inspires me because I like to observe how humans react to different situations. I’m generally a sponge and really enjoy reading and learning new ideas through books, podcasts and digital media.
What makes you a great leader?
I learned something recently that stuck with me. A good leader takes people where they want to go, but a great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but they should go. I also believe that a great leader is a good listener. We have two ears and one mouth and there is a reason for that. We must use them in this report. We also have two hands and a mouth. We must also use them in this report. But above all, lead with integrity and empathy. You don’t need to have answers to everything, seek guidance from your team so they feel empowered and part of the journey and decision-making.
What do you see as the main branding challenges in the current climate?
I think it’s relevance and standing out in this highly competitive environment. Everyone has raised the bar, branding and brand communication have never been more important than now, as customers have so many more options than ever. As a brand, we have always been a leader in retail branding and we must continue to push ourselves and add excitement to maintain our leadership position.
You were president of the Loeries jury for the student prizes, how was the experience?
The experience was amazing. When you judge, you learn so much from your fellow judges about how they view and evaluate the work, but also the work itself is so inspiring and you also learn how some people solve business problems through creativity and insight. ‘innovation. By judging, you also learn about different creative approaches and the culture of other regions such as the Africa Middle East region which is rich in nuances, ideas and creativity.