10th Jun 2019

Out with the old, in with the new

Maerua Mall is the second-largest regional shopping centre in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. In 2017, in the face of rising competition, declining footcounts and an overall economic slowdown, it undertook a brand-repositioning campaign.

Transform was appointed to manage the process of developing and executing a 12-month marketing strategy that included a major brand repositioning of the centre.

Challenges and opportunities

  • Footcount was down because of increased competition from other malls; there was no perceived difference in what Maerua Mall was offering versus any other shopping centre; and there was a general lack of loyalty among the malls’ shoppers.
  • Maerua Mall lacked a brand plan – other than a logo, there was nothing formal in place for marketers to work with. Compared to the two other main competing malls, Maerua Mall lacked an up-to-date, clear, attractive image that drew the attention of the public and got them talking.
  • Maerua Mall was unsure of what its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were – a formal process hadn’t yet been conducted to understand this.
  • Despite these challenges, the mall had a great brand legacy – it was the first mall of its size in the city and it carried an emotional connection for many people. Its location was prime, and despite an awkward tenant mix, it still offered good retail variety.
  • Maerua Mall was in the process of building a new family entertainment centre, and moving the existing Virgin Active gym to a better location within the mall; in addition, a few new multinational retailers were about to open.

Research and insights

  • We held a workshop with Maerua Mall to conduct a solid swot (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, a basic competitor analysis, and (relying on a Windhoek-based brand strategist’s experience and local insight) further research.
  • We identified solid customer demands among Windhoek shoppers in general: they wanted convenience (location and accessibility), entertainment and quality. Our target audience was predominantly female, 22-45 years old, with 50% of them visiting over the weekends, while 30% visited in the week. The main shopping categories were clothing, food, entertainment and health/beauty.
  • We identified key international trends that we needed to leverage in our brand repositioning, including the need to entertain, engage and excite; moving out of the traditional shopping-centre space and extending the mall offering through digital and mobile technology; and integrating non-retail offerings (gym, hotel, residential apartments, etc) into the mall environment.


Transform undertook a year-long PR programme for the mall, with a large part centering on the launch of the new family entertainment centre.

Working closely with the Windhoek-based brand strategist, Transform led the process of developing a brand strategy. The mall’s new brand positioning statement was ‘Maerua Mall offers families and friends seeking quality time a friendly, caring and vibrant shopping atmosphere where social, entertaining and relaxing experiences are accessible to all.’

We identified what the mall’s character traits (values) should be (caring, accessible and vibrant), developed a brand-positioning statement and payoff line (‘Be part of the family’), and came up with a creative brief to produce a new logo.

A new identity was approved and rolled out within the first six months of the campaign, through various business-to-business and consumer touchpoints, including the new logo and payoff line, stationery, a shoppers’ website, all social-media platforms, in-mall hoarding for stores that were under renovation, limited directional signage, billboard advertising, newspaper and magazine advertising, and in-mall shopper communication.

A creative brief was provided to our graphic designer, who also conducted her own research of possible expressions to follow, coupled with her insight and knowledge of what the latest design trends, looks and feels were. She sourced examples of possible routes that exemplified the payoff line. Three options were pitched to the client via a moodboard presentation; a choice was made and refinements undertaken. The symbol became an unostentatious and relatable rounded ‘m’, which reflected movement/buoyancy/a modern active lifestyle, while overlapping colours reflected vibrancy, dynamism, entertainment and creativity.

This new identity was rolled out through stationery (letterhead and business cards), loyalty parking cards, billboards announcing the launch of the new family entertainment centre, newspaper print adverts for various in-mall seasonal promotions, a website, directional signage, the mall’s social-media platforms, and hoardings.

Evaluation and benefits

Although design cannot alone be measured by how well the public responds to it (through increased footcount, greater engagement at in-mall promotions or upticks on social-media channels), design plays an important role in how shoppers generally respond to new promotions and activities that follow once the new identity has been rolled out.

Of the total R2,2-million worth of media coverage received over the year, at least R500 000 was solicited around the launch of the family entertainment centre.

Social-media growth increased by just under 10% for Facebook, 12% for Twitter and 180% for Instagram.