The Importance of Branding YOURSELF! What’s Your Gimmick?

Nunu Ntshingila, CEO of Ogilvy South Africa

Nunu Ntshingila, CEO of Ogilvy South Africa

I stumbled upon the topic of branding after watching an episode of America’s Next Top Model in which Tyra Bank’s competing models were taught a lesson on the importance of redefining themselves as a brand as a marketing technique to their targeted audience. But whether a top model, celebrity, company, or businessperson branding is a key necessity that can help  you to achieve success on a much greater scale.

As a businessperson it is also critical to market oneself to an intended audience and sell a quality to an employer, investor, or consumer that sets you a part from your competition.   Branding, gives you the opportunity to market yourself, solidifying all of the listed skills on your resume and prove to your target audience that you are both a memorable  force and an asset to your field.

So,what exactly is branding and why should you care?

Women, Success & Money blog define branding as ” when you give yourself a unique spin that differentiates you from others in your field, so you are seen as the only one who can provide a specific solution”.  A brand embodies who you are, what your mission is, what you stand for and what sets you apart from other competitors. Think of any business for example, Nike. We as an audience know exactly what we are getting when we buy Nike’s products.  Branding creates a sense of clarity to your audience and guarantees trust and consistency.

Here are some tips to help you build your brand in the business world:

1. Define your brand. And be an expert in your field! This is the time to do major digging and soul searching. Figure out who you are, how you would like to be perceived and what exactly your mission is. Then, establish an expertise that correlates with what you stand for both as an individual and as a business.

2. Be Memorable! When you walk into any room have a presence that makes you unforgettable.  No one likes to see the same old thing on repeat. The same thing applies to the business world. Don’t be like every other candidate or competitor on the market. Be different. If you represent a company, have a name or slogan that is simple and compelling to its audience. Offer a different quality than any other business or individual they have ever seen before.  Market yourself as though you ready from Day 1 for your dream position.

3. Network, Network, Network! Whether it is through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or face to face interactions, it is important to represent your brand everywhere. This is an opportunity to spread awareness about your brand and convey your value to your audience.

4. Incorporate the “Holy Trinity of branding.” You want to have consistency, clarity and authenticity, says Roffer. “Translated correctly, how I present myself and how I speak about myself should be a true reflection of who I am at the core.”  Start with what you know. Build on passions, strengths, talents and past success. As Roffer says, “redefine you in a fresh new way,”consistency is key. 

5. Share Your Story. Women Success & Money point out that it is important to be relatable to your audience. A good way  to show this is by sharing your experiences that have helped to shape you and your brand.  No one has stood where you have.

Photo: Flickr; by Ogilvy Joburg



What Makes Someone An Entrepreneur?

Variations on a theme are easier to create than the theme itself.  (That’s our fancy way of saying it is easy to improve an existing idea than to start one from scratch.)  But what makes an entrepreneur go out and create those variations?

It is no idle question.  There are literally tens of thousands of people who have ideas for what could be worthwhile companies, and yet they have done virtually nothing to develop what could very well be viable concepts.

What separates those that pull the trigger from those that don’t?

A Venn diagram comprising the attributes that makes the best entrepreneurs.

Consider these three entrepreneurs:

  • Bernard A. Goldhirsh started a sailing magazine because he thought the existing ones too snooty. “They were all filled with Somebody the Third meeting up with Somebody Else the Fourth at some fancy yacht club.” But in the process of starting Sail, Goldhirsh realized he knew nothing about starting or building a business. In talking to other fledgling entrepreneurs he learned they were in the same boat.
  • Arthur A. Jones always had a secret obsession. An eighth grade drop out, he worked as everything from an animal importer to television producer and even hosted the syndicated show Wild Cargo. But through it all he kept a secret.  Jones was fascinated with bodybuilding.  Through conventional weightlifting techniques he had created an impressive physique, “but I wasn’t satisfied.”
  • Perry Mendel was a successful real estate developer in the South whose kids were grown, so there was no reason for him to be overly interested in child care back in 1968. Yet almost every day there was another  story about women entering the workforce and how divorce was increasing and he got to wondering “who was taking care of the children.”

In each case, Goldhirsh, Jones and Mendel identified a need in the marketplace that resonanted with them. Goldhirsh wanted to find a way to help people like himself learn more about business. Jones was searching for a more efficient bodybuilding technique and Mendel was looking for a better form of child care.

Read more at Forbes

How Social Media Can Take Your Business Higher

I know many people would like to see their profits double this year or have more customers get on board with their services. Well you can do this by using social media to benefit your business and ultimately, make more money. Social media will allow you to interact, inform, and create incentives for your customers to have them return to your goods and services. This will allow you to have a better sense of who your customers are and allow you to reach a wider range of possible customers.

What exactly is social media? Social media is a social instrument of communication on the Internet. It is a way for people to express thoughts, events, news, and basically anything else. There are thousands of social media outlets that exist, but to save time and avoid a headache, we will only focus on the three most popular social media outlets: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Wait, but who cares? Why even use social media? Well for starters, you can educate your customers on what exactly you’re trying to sell them INSTANTLY! Whether it be a good or service, it doesn’t matter! Social media gives you the opportunity to connect with your customers within seconds; therefore, they are always updated on what you have to offer them. You can network with other businesses, check up on competitors, and most importantly, you can reach a wider range of potential customers who can potentially take your business to higher levels. Get this, 71% of people will only buy from companies who use social media sites and 91% of people use Facebook to look for local businesses.

Back to the two common social media sites that can help advance your business – Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Twitter allows you to interact with your customers and people world wide within nanoseconds! You can interact by answering questions customers may have about services, wish customers a good day or even ask for their opinions on certain topics. Be creative! Let them know you care for their needs. Inform your customers on new services or policies constantly, so they can always be updated. People want to know you care, so show them!  Tweet incentives such as special offers on certain products or services. In return, this will give a person a reason to follow you and be a loyal customer. The more people re-tweet and favorite your tweets, the more their networks have a chance to interact with you and begin learning about your company.

Facebook is a way for your company to show its true personality to your customers. It is important to create a fan page that allows your customers to contact you including a phone number, short summary of services, and an address. Connect with your customers by showing pictures of events, products and employees. Incentives can be a powerful tool to increase customer engagement and encourage customers to showcase their loyalty to other individuals in their network.

Once you’ve started your social media efforts, stay personal and engaged with your customers and users. Regardless of the platform you use, consistency and responsive are key to maintaining that relationship with your customers and encouraging user interaction. Social media is an excellent tool to increase consumer trust and show the softer side of a company. With a strong plan and consistent engagement, you can use social media to take your business to the next level.

Creator and owner of Unique28

Creator and owner of Unique28

Compliments of Dammy Oshodi, Creative Officer and Founder of Unique28 Designs

The Perfect Start in the Digital World: Start Your Own Store Online

lost in lagos

Lost in Lagos by Tope; a 22 year old Nigerian American Big Cartel online store owner

Ever want to start your own business? Have your own store? Or sell a product you know the world will love? If so Big Cartel is the place for you to begin working toward your dream of starting your own business!

Websites like Big Cartel, Etsy, and even Ebay represent a recent phenomena that makes it easier than ever for young aspiring business people to start their own company and receive access to a worldwide audience at significantly lower costs than the price of a local boutique.

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered the trend of buying and selling items through creating your own personal store on the website Big Cartel. Big Cartel allows aspiring company owners access to a fully customizable online store and domain. Each seller or virtual business owner receives an exclusive separate domain to promote the products of their online store without the intrusion of visible competition or advertisements. On this site, the storeowner is fully in charge of providing advertising to promote traffic into their online store. However, Big Cartel does offer a store directory listing all stores using the Big Cartel domain to seek the certain store or business of your choice.  Similarly, Etsy and Ebay provide a place for sellers to display searchable products while providing sellers with a community and page to display products.

How do you start? Sign up! Becoming a seller or storeowner is so simple and easy.  The price to signup for a domain or online boutique at Big Cartel ranges from free for gold users looking to sell a maximum of 5 products to $29.99 monthly for titanium users selling a maximum of 300 products.

With this new digital age owning your own store has never been so easy or profitable! What’s stopping you from being the businesswoman of your dreams? Start your own store now.

Check out these sites:

Photo Credit: Lost in Lagos;

Calling All Social Entrepreneurs! Apply for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, is now accepting applications for their annual business plan competition for early stage start-ups led by women all across the world. Organized by Cartier in partnership with the Women’s Forum, McKinsey & Company, and INSEAD business school, the competition seeks to identify, support and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs.

Cartier Group Photo

Since starting in 2006, more than 100 finalists have been selected and 32 Laureates have been chosen as winners. One Laureate from each region is selected and receives a prize package that includes US $ 20,000 of funding, one year of coaching, networking opportunities and media exposure.

This social entrepreneurship contest aims at supporting creative, financially sustainable and responsible women-led start-ups, in all countries and industries.

The submission deadline this year is March 8, 2013 at 10am CET. If you have an early stage startup with 1-3 years of operating experience, apply today!

Previous Winners from Sub-Saharan Africa:

elizabeth_ScharpfRwanda: In 2012, Julienne Ingabire and Elizabeth Scharpf were the Laureates for Sub-Saharan Africa with their Rwandan company, Sustainable Health Enterprises, which produces low-cost and eco-friendly sanitary pads on a franchise model fostering local entrepreneurs.

LornaKenya: In 2011, Lorna Rutto won with EcoPost, a Kenyan company that manufactures durable fencing posts using plastic waste, an environmentally friendly alternative to timber.

Ann KihenguTanzania: In 2010 27 year old Tanzanian Ann Kihengu won with her company Prian, a distributor of affordable solar-powered lamps and mobile phone chargers in rural Tanzania, through a program to encourage young entrepreneurs.

Jife Williams and Adeola AsabiaNigeria: In 2009, Jife Williams and Adeola Asabia won with MN Environmental Services, a sanitation company that provides showers and toilets that make a difference in Lagos State, Nigeria communities.

Mame DieneSenegal: In 2008, Mama Diene won with BioEssence, a Senegal laboratory promoting the finest African cosmetics and essential oils.


Ivory Coast: In 2007, Lucie Avoaka won with Santa Maria Medical Center a healthcare provider in the underprivileged region of Abobo, Ivory Coast.

6 Ways to Get Your Fashion Blog Off the Ground.


Earlier this year, the Guardian UK released their list of the Top 10 African Fashion Blogs and featured blogs from Lagos to London to Soweto,  all showcasing the best in African style. If you have an interest in fashion, starting your own blog is a great way to share your own personal style, stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry, and develop relationships with key players and movers and shakers.

Some blogs like Bella Naija have been able to grow and become profitable but for most people your personal blog will remain a labor of love not for money. But don’t let that deter you from pursuing it as your blog can serve as a powerful online resume allowing future employers and potential co-workers to see your expertise and skill set before they read your resume or call you in for an interview. Developing your personal brand online can also provide you access to events as an official member of the press.

If this sounds like you, check out The Daily Muse for six great tips on how to get your fashion blog started.

Photo Credit: Style By Queens

Starting Your Business On The Right Foot: Tips from Start Smart

Juliana Taylor created Start Smart, a project working to provide access to knowledge and resources for entrepreneurs. She shared with us a guest post on how to start your business on the right foot.

Entrepreneurship is one of the most challenging yet rewarding paths that any individual can choose to embark on. I like to think of myself as an entrepreneur in training. I’ve had the opportunity to experiment with my own ideas and also work with entrepreneurs across a variety of levels of experience. For those in emerging market economies like Ghana, the consensus seemed to be that there was an absence of organized information to help guide them in running successful businesses.

This feedback led me to create a resource list called the SME Toolkit. The Toolkit is a guide for entrepreneurs who are ready to start a business. It touches on a number of topics ranging from registering a business to navigating social media. The approach I took was one which emphasized clarity and simplicity to ensure that it would be able to meet the needs of all entrepreneurs, especially those with a limited understanding of business concepts. To create the Toolkit, I started with a diary that I’d been keeping of some of the challenges that I’d encountered on my journey towards becoming an entrepreneur.  These included:

  1. Finding out how to register a business
  2. Determining how best to engage with my target audience
  3. Ways to advertise
  4. How to approach the task of book keeping

With each of the challenges I began to search for resources that might have made my journey a little easier and the result of this research was the SME Toolkit.

Though the Toolkit was built for Ghanaian entrepreneurs my hope is that it will serve as a reference point for other entrepreneurs across the globe. 

For more on what Start Smart can offer your business or to follow the weekly blog, visit

Photo Credit: Juliana Taylor