Edition Nº6 Identity
A collection of stories, reflections and transformations of people and brands
Dear Reader
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As we enter a New Year, admittedly cautious about grand resolutions as 2020 has shown that even the most grandiose of plans and tightest of strategies cannot withstand an ‘unforeseen event’ – we must still march towards sunshine. Instead of pursuing plots and plans, we are now invited (I believe) to root ourselves upon the substance of our own characters. Now more than ever, identity becomes crucial as the nucleus around and from which we must grow and flesh out. The sociologist in me will resist the temptation to give you the theoretical download on identity with related references and footnotes. Rather than lose sleep over what it is, I turn our attention to what it means and why it matters.

Your identity is more than your name, title, gender, wins, failings, losses, social station, etc. It is a fusion of these aspects and more. In essence, identity is the nugget upon which life and resultant meaning evolve. The magical ingredients of identity are the foundation upon which your mansion (your life) is built. This is often an amalgamation of qualities, values, beliefs, behaviour, personality, gender, social class, ethnicity, age etc. Whichever aspects are emphasised often is impacted either by self-belief, others or social programming. The house that emerges, as in that which is visible to the world, becomes the source of your reputation.

Where there is alignment between the internal (purpose) and the external (expression) then success and bliss will bloom. We must do more than talk the lingo and sprout popular catch-phrases. To walk the line with an unshakeable integrity is possible only when there’s a golden thread which connects the external with the interior. When you have agency, then you have the power to determine what to emphasise, to discard or to ignore.
Is what you project a true reflection of who you are?
Is it aligned with what you want for yourself and wish to be respected and known for?

What is the role of brands in this space?

In my everyday practice of co-creating high-influence brands that grow people and companies – the real task is in ensuring that brand identity also germinates from a clear purpose. A brand’s identity is more than its visible elements such as font, colour, name, etc. If that identity be absolute – as in crafted in ways that are distinctive and true, the brand is set on a path for sustainable and inclusive growth. If however, the identity is crafted on a platform of relativity – as in crafted in reaction and response to brand B – then the opportunity to craft a winning path is compromised.

It has been my experience that brands whose identity is built with purpose beyond profit and who engage with integrity, often show respect to the communities they serve. The outcome is a consumer desire to connect/affiliate with and advocate for that brand’s success. It is my aspiration that such rigour will dispense of the marketing faux-pas of times past.

Here are some big branding take-aways …
  1. Create purposeful brands that serve rather than sell.
  2. Become more than consumer centric but human-centric, especially the humans in your business who are part of your brand’s success.
  3. Do not build your kingdom by behaving poorly.
  4. Injustice is insidious – so decry it everywhere
  5. Be nice – in and out or employees will call you out. Brand building - which in essence is reputation enhancement – is an inside out job, there must be congruence between what consumers see and what employees experience .
  6. Stem greed
  7. Names are not harmless, and language is not neutral.
The challenge then is for those of us who are custodians of brands to deliberately and courageously hold brand marketers and owners to account. As creative practitioners and conscious creators, we must ensure that public declarations of the brands in our care are in accord with their internal utterances. Brands must resist the temptation to spray their brand values on staircases, websites and shiny elevators. It is not where your values are read that matters but how they are lived internally and how they manifest externally. When there is congruence between the ‘lived’ and the ‘spoken’, when promises are made and kept -then a brand’s identity and reputation can be expected to flourish.

In this month and beyond, I wish you clarity to focus on what advances authentic and positive identity formation (words, pictures, gestures, campaigns, etc) and the courage to abort brand efforts that create harmful identities. Let us prioritise brand-building that succeeds alongside -not at the expense of – society.

Speaking of identity and evolution, I earned my PhD in Critical Diversity Literacy in Dec 2020 and my team insists that my name reflect this (bear with me…)

Blue skies,
Dr. Sizakele Marutlulle

In The Calendar

This Month


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Our Finest Hour

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Full Circle with Za

Be sure to subscribe to my channel where I bring together various aspects of my portfolio life. I cover topics of strategy, creative problem solving, ideation, some of my poetry, as well as hopes and dreams. I reflect on life lessons through my #zaisms and #streams of consciousness. There will be more conversations with leaders from various spheres and other like-spirited individuals, all to support your journey towards your highest self.
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When I deliver this talk, I share my journey of arrival, ascendance and awakening – especially the highs, lows and lessons. Look out for new dates, as I will be coming to a screen and/or Covid-compliant venue near you very soon. Visit to be the first to know about dates, venues and all other good stuff.

What's on my mind this month

  1. In my ear: Aaron Diehl - The Vagabond
  2. On my mind : A Force of Circumstance - Simone de Beauvoir
  3. On my palate : Home-made mabele porridge (made bourgie with peanut butter, dates and honey)


The use of force is-t-shirt-Sizakele-Marutlulle-Apparel
A careful selection of refined things that are consciously made and designed for mindful consumption. Stay on the lookout for new additions. Visit the M-shop

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