Episode 00: Watch Me Build My African Brand
Speaking With An Authentic Voice
“Why did I do that?” I started to panic after deleting a 2,800-word resource guide about the importance of African small business owners creating a strong African brand.
I deleted my guide at 5pm on June 7th, 2016. The day and time are not very important to you, however this website goes live in seven hours and that African brand guide was going to be my big professional splash.
However, I just could not publish it, the first line was “how thoughtful branding can transform an African business.” Whose voice is that? Not mine.
My face when I realized that I could not publish the African brand article; deciding that it must be deleted and then seconds after deleting it. The only thought that was running through my mind was “Why did I do that?” The article was finished!
Ivy’s Voice & Tone
When I was compiling the resource guide, I did a ton of research beforehand and found my voice and tone-started sounding like everyone one. I was writing like everyone else and sounded like everyone else, it was not interesting. I was not writing in my own voice.
I want to sound like myself on my blog. I want my readers to hear my clear strong voice reading the words in their heads. I started thinking about my personality, what do I want to say? What is Ivy Interviews Africa’s brand?
What Is My African Brand?
Branding relies on gut instinct, it’s visceral. Effective branding comes across through appearance, personality, speech patterns, and tone.
I want Ivy Interviews Africa to be honest and transparent. I want my readers to trust that I am weaving my personal values and stories into the blog in order to be authentic. I will be professional, trustworthy, opinionated, positive, uplifting, inspirational, clear and funny. I want the focus to be squarely on African business and I want to intertwine the advice and personal experiences of African business owners into my blog.
Next, I thought about the words that I wanted to be associated with my brand. Everything starts with words. I picked up a thesaurus and flipped through it. Then I wrote page after page of words that I loved. Words that I thought were beautiful and evoked uplifting imagery. I wrote pages of words over a period of time then I simplified, simplified, simplified. I boiled down the words until I got a concise paragraph. Below see a couple of pages in my little idea notebook.
That paragraph ended up being my mission statement, “Platform for broadcasting innovative African entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups; The place to gather valuable insights from the personal experiences of African business owners.”
Where Do My Readers Hang Out?
A couple of weeks ago I started thinking about who is my reader going to be? What do they like? Where do they spend their time online? How do I communicate with them effectively?
So in an effort to find out who my reader would be and what they would be interested in, I started participating in Facebook groups. FYI Africans live on Facebook!
I chose 3 active and business focused Facebook groups; Steph B-School created by Stephanie Obi (Innovate entrepreneur/ business coach), The Highly Paid Expert’s Network created Victor Ekpo Bassey (highly paid expert/life coach), and Breakthrough Academy created by Arise Arizechi (founder of KonnectAfrica.net/author/publisher). I really enjoy participating in the Facebook groups because I see the intelligence, strength, and burdens of Africans who are trying to run their own business in Africa.
Branding = Matchmaking
Branding is powerful; it’s kind of like matchmaking. I looked for Stephanie Obi on Facebook because I saw a webinar that featured her. I watched the webinar and fell in like with her passion, brand, and clear voice. Her positive feminine uplifting brand resonated with me and now I am taking her online course. I am taking an online course because I want to start an online business and package myself for the Nigerian market. However, her strong personal brand is the reason that I decided to take her online course, to join her B-School. I am not only thinking about my current customers. I am thinking about future customers. I plan to use this opportunity to open up my customer base to another demographic.
Why Build An African Brand Now?
I reached out to Dr. Harnet Bokrezion, CEO and Founder of Africa Jumpstart. She is also the coauthor of “101 Ways to Make Money in Africa.” I have been silently cyber stalking her for years. If you are interested in doing any investing or business in Africa, listen to her YouTube videos. She has a clear, calm, steady, highly intelligent, kind voice and personality. She has a fantastic brand; she is the ultimate expert for anyone in the Diaspora who wants to invest in business in Africa.
She told me that it is important to build an African brand right now because
“this strategy is one of the future… African governments and development agendas are now giving priority to local manufacturing and exports and discourage from imports of foreign products and brands; as the latter is increasing economic dependency, unemployment, trade deficit, and lack of foreign currency locally. Local manufacturing and African exports can only be effective if we build well-respected, strong African brands. Hence building an African brand goes far beyond your own business ambition – in a macro context it’s a crucial contribution towards Africa’s development and will also foster intra-African trade relations.”
Watch Me Build My African Brand
So I decided to focus on building my African brand now. Over the next several months, you will see me grow. I will post weekly posts where I describe my process and results/successes/failures. I am taking and using all the advice I can get from people I admire and respect. I am also taking Wharton School of Business Entrepreneurship course via Couresa.org (it is jam packed with information and its FREE!). I plan to become a force to be reckoned with so Watch Me Grow My African Brand. When are you going to start growing yours?
Please leave your comments below. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for reading!