Brands respond

We’re living in times where we have to balance health issues with economic activity. Preserving brand health really must continue if our economies are to survive. But many of our larger verticals have not yet stepped up to the challenge. Too many of them are still looking inward – restructuring, arranging remote working and ‘administering’. But better-led and marketed local brands are already showing us how to do better. Two nice examples:

Autoxpress – our leading automotive care brand has already done so much to digitally transform its business over the past five years that, as a customer, I sense that they are very much doing business as usual. That’s good news for all of us.  With 40 branches in Kenya and another 10 across East Africa serving commercial fleets and the ordinary motorist, I think they qualify as an essential industry. My own Autoxpress customer experience last week was excellent. I booked an online appointment for new brake pads, and was engaged by an efficient call centre operator. My appointment time was confirmed and an estimate given for the work and parts (which I had chosen from a menu of different makes). Come the appointed time I rolled into their spotless Karen branch and put my car straight onto the ramp. Social distancing measures were in place and within minutes the team had identified that brake pads could not be fitted, as one brake disc was worn out. They placed an online order for the part, and will call me when it arrives. Meanwhile they conducted a full visual check of the car, noted a couple of items for later action and entered everything in their database. When I left, I was charged nothing and I’m fully confident that they will fix the disc and the pads this week.

DPO Group – Africa’s biggest secure payments provider is a bit of a hidden gem, as most of us don’t see the business-to-business work it does. But this Nairobi-based fintech giant (the biggest on the Continent, with operations in 19 countries so far) makes it possible for thousands of African businesses to pay and be paid securely. Now they have used the crisis to address an urgent business problem – how can brands make the leap into e-commerce to serve their customers while social distancing restrictions apply? Under an initiative called DPO Store, the brand is already fast-tracking the creation of websites with e-commerce back-ends for hundreds of well-known businesses. Check out and – both of which were set up in 48 hours and are now making life easier for thousands of Kenyans.