We sat down with Muzi Mthombeni and got insight into his world.

What motivated you to take the strategy reins at Wonder? And how does your personal purpose align with its mission?

I wanted to live a more congruent existence where the work that I do is in line with the person I want to be in this world. It’s still very much a work-in-progress but I know I want to do work that has a direct and tangible positive impact on people’s lives and that meant finding a space that has this notion as a key driver for the work they do. WONDER was that space and the position provided the perfect opportunity to bring that ambition to life.

What are you hoping to achieve through your work? Can you share any specific strategies or initiatives?

Thinking about this keeps bringing me to this notion of sustainable intervention. I want the work we do to continue having impact beyond our intervention as WONDER. It’s not the most billable philosophy but now more than ever we need marketing strategies that are not dependent on the frequency of intervention but rather the quality of the intervention.  A quick example of this in the work we do is the shift from crafting once-off campaigns to building ownable brand platforms over time. But brand platforms need brand teams to bring them to life and so we’re developing an initiative called The WonderXchange with the intention of coaching brand teams on how to maintain their marketing systems in a constantly evolving landscape without having to heavily rely on agency partners.

How do you support and inspire your team members and colleagues to keep pushing the envelope and do work that matters?

I make it matter to them. We’re most invested in the things that matter to us and so whichever brand  or project we’re working on we always need to have a discussion about how it fits into their world. Sometimes there’s already a clear reason why it matters, in which case I simply ride their passion for it, and other times it’s about inspiring a sense of curiosity to find relevance for it in their lives. Once they have that reason for why it matters to them I find that the drive to keep pushing the envelope is something that they then foster themselves.

Who or what has inspired your career journey the most?

On the what it has to be Seth Godin’s philosophy of the purple cow. He basically suggests that doing safe work is like being a normal cow but expecting to grab people’s attention. Instead he suggests you need big, brave ideas that grab peoples attention, much like a purple cow would in the midst of normal cows. For me it’s not just about aiming for the purple cow in the work I do but also being a purple cow in how I go about my career.

What advice do you have for business owners and marketing directors wanting to pull the brand lever to accelerate their business’ growth?

Get the foundations right. The one thing I’ve noted about brands that truly accelerate business growth is that they have the foundations right. There’s a sound brand definition that’s brought to life by a well thought out marketing system. If these fundamentals are not in place then brand efforts usually miss the mark on delivering business growth.

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