Inaugural 67 Squared Project Produces 8 Brands & 8 Websites in 8 Hours!

In honour of Madiba’s 100th Birthday, a voluntary collective of creatives and coders, spearheaded by brand communications agency Machete Creative, took up the challenge of the Nelson Mandela Foundation to take sustainable action against poverty by using their skills to create branding and websites for as many emerging township businesses as possible.

67 SQUARED was planned as a day of action that would empower young entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities to compete in today’s digital economy, help them grow their enterprises, and employ more people as they did so.

After a four-week recruitment drive, eight start-ups were selected: three food-related businesses, a beauty bar, a fencing company, a township recycling enterprise, a free-range poultry farmer and an animal rescue initiative.

According to Nic Shepherd, creative director of Machete and originator of the 67 SQUARED concept, the results achieved on the day more than exceeded expectations. “Eleven young business people – from eight different businesses – went home with new logos, corporate identities, business cards, websites and professionally shot portraits.

“When you add the value of the guest speakers and the day’s refreshments, the total value of these services easily exceeds a quarter of a million rand! But over and above that, there was just such an amazing energy and focus to the day. New contacts were made, new relationships fostered, and there was an incredible sense of shared accomplishment and togetherness by the end of the day.”

Co-organiser Linde Ndaba agreed. “We’re not trying to make millionaires. We’re trying to make a small contribution to the economies of previously disadvantaged communities. And some of our candidates have already seen an unexpected increase in activity since their rebranding.

“But apart from that, I think the business owners walked out with a new sense of pride and self-belief. Just the fact that they were taken seriously by senior creative people was important. Because this was not slapdash work put out by juniors. We vetted our volunteers very carefully and aesthetic quality control was ensured by two experienced creative directors.”

So how did the various teams produce so much work in one working day?

Nic Shepherd said the secret lay in preparation. “Before the day, business names and URLs were nailed down, and our lead developer, Gary Readhead, had set up the backbone of a multi-site WordPress development for all businesses that did not have their own domains.

“Our corporate identity and website briefing methodology was stripped down to the bone to speed up the process, and where possible, designers and copywriters were allocated specific businesses ahead of time, so the process of creative germination could start before the actual day.

“Our list of volunteers included heavyweight art directors Richard Bates and Jeremy Pender, freelance designers Bianca Ennion, Kim Arendse and Mali Tyafa, creative director Alex Levetan of ABNF, and seasoned copywriters Pippa Hannom, Strato Copteros and Linde Ndaba.

“Veteran lensman Dwayne Senior generously documented the morning’s events and shot portraits of all of the business owners for their sites, and video content generators Bounceboard lent us cameraman Joshua and equipment for the day to cover proceedings and shoot a series of interviews,” Shepherd added.

Two guest speakers were also recruited to give the business owners valuable and practical insight into the basics of brand management and essential accounting practices, while the creative teams were working their magic.

“We were most fortunate in this respect to secure the expertise of Solly Moeng of Don Valley, an eminent brand strategist and reputation management guru; and Frank Bold, a wily chartered accountant from FTB Administrators.”

Contributions from many local businesses included the printing of the business cards by Digital Express; Dolce Bakery supplied 67 gourmet muffins; Banqueteurs Catering delivered wraps for lunch, while Ferdinando’s provided delicious artisanal pizzas in the evening. Caffeine supplies came courtesy of beans supplied by ethically sourced One Cup Coffee. And networking was taken care of by IT Outlook.