BRANDS ARE NO LONGER JUST STANDING STRUCTURED INSTITUTIONS, BRANDS ARE FAST BECOMING PEOPLE, INDIVIDUALS, PLACES, AND THINGS. PERSONAL BRANDING MIGHT BE THE FUTURE OF MARKETING IN THE COMING DECADES.
Today, Africa is raising its own crop of human brands; tangible, real life individuals, living and breathing, inciting necessary emotions; and are cashing out on this venture. Personal brands are real, human and tangible. Brands are buying into these individuals as foot soldiers and unofficial “sales representatives”.
Africa has come to be a fertile ground for economic growth. With some countries working speedily to rise above the “developing” tag, the kinetics are both exciting and intriguing. With obvious increasing growth of internet penetration, lots of businesses are going online and work is going beyond office cubicles and traditional work spaces.
The internet makes room for everyone and anyone, from kids to adults to animals to trees. This room allows for big businesses to relate with their customers on personal basis. The internet is making brands out of individuals and it’s interesting how this is becoming the real deal in the African internetosphere. As it is today, if one applies for a job in a radio station and he gets turned down, he can get himself an online radio, broadcast live and become that On Air personality he had always dreamed of. Same goes for writers turned bloggers who have faced rejection upon rejection from publishers, same goes for internet musicians, vloggers, cooks etc.
On the internet, anyone can become anything, a boy can become a horse, a man can become a cat, a woman and a company of 10 staff all at once, all it takes is the right communication, packaging and delivery.
Personal Brands Vs Ad Agencies
Because people find it easier to communicate and relate with fellow human beings rather than faceless institutions, more and more companies and corporate brands are adopting personal brands as faces representing their affairs while boycotting traditional Ad Agencies. This marketing scheme is becoming even more popular as social media bridges the gap of distance and time, giving followers first hand, exclusive real time access into the lives of these cherished brand representatives. Human brands are replacing signboards, radio jingles, print ads etc. Who would have thought this to be happening?
Becoming a Brand
Building a personal brand works just on same principles of building a corporate brand. That is on the mechanism of emotion and desire, riding on consistency. For one to become a brand, he is required to consistently project a notion, skill, lifestyle etc. till he is easily and subconsciously cemented in the minds of his followers as a representative and true authority of that notion, skill, lifestyle etc. Also conscious association and affiliation with causes, people, places and brands that project what a person stands for even amplifies that individual as a brand. Like consumable products, 'self-packaging' earns every personal brand extra customers. One is a personal brand when his name is mentioned and a specific or unique emotion is evoked in every listener.
Case Studies: Below are some Nigerian who have built themselves into brands associated with a peculiar emotion, thought or lifestyle.
Noble Igwe: This media personality has worked himself into a fashion authority and influencer as long as pop culture and fun is concerned in Nigeria. This has earned him multiple brand ambassador deals.
Denola Grey: Can one even mention fashion in Nigeria without Denola Grey coming to mind? Known for his very bold and adventurous style, Denola has built himself to become a towering brand in the fashion world; presenting a youthful, zesty burst of colour and life.
Ebuka Obi-Uchendu: Using both new and traditional media, Ebuka the Lawyer turned media personality has sold himself since after the season 1 of the Big brother Nigeria show as the perfect gentleman. Stealing the heart of viewers as a TV sweetheart, Ebuka has leveraged on his likeable personality while positioning himself as "that well-groomed authenic man". This has him doubling as a fashion image and a TV candy.
Toke Makinwa: Toke does not need much introduction. She's has consistently put herself out there that she now represents a whole lot, from women empowerment to fashion to the new age media voice; staying opinionated in all spheres.
Business and Entrepreneurship
Tony Elumelu: Tony is building an empire beyond the Heirs holding as he consciously and carefully sells himself as a strong voice of reason as far as the business and corporate scene in Africa is involved
Jason Njoku: Jason would brag about his business all day, he would write about it, tweet about it even sing about it. This is because he has built himself a successful empire, making him an role model for many entrepreneurs and business executives. His brand is his name first, then his business.
Mark Essien: Mark sells his personality alongside his business authority. This leaves many endeared to him as he pushes even more boundaries with hotels.ng. Mark is a brand and role model to many young entrepreneurs.
Many other spheres are growing more personal brands from Maje Ayida in Fitness and lifestyle to Chef Fregz in Food & Culture, to Feyi Fawehinmi in Social Commenting and Citizenship to Falz in Entertainment and many others. Most of them are leveraging on social media as a projecting platform. With more and more internet penetration, Africa is bound to have even more breed of human brands, doing fantastic things and bridging the flow of traditional advertising.