4 things you can learn about branding from Yemi Alade

yemi alade branding

Yemi Alade does not need any introduction. Raise your hand if you start singing the words to “Johnny” anytime you meet someone called John. For some of us, it is difficult to remember how Yemi Alade was before the Johnny era.

The mere mention of her name conjures up a certain image. That is her brand. Since rebranding herself, Yemi Alade has reached new heights of stardom with fans across Africa and beyond. She has a lot to teach us about branding.

1. Find a style that is yours…

A successful brand is a brand that is unique. When you’re building your brand, first things first is  discovering what you are doing that others in your industry aren’t. What makes you special and different from everyone else? You may need to add some colour and give your brand a personality that everyone will remember.

Yemi Alade’s edgy sense of fashion just stands out. She has emerged with unique and quirky styles that immediately jump at you. Yemi Alade has described herself as a fashion chameleon, her style is at once easy, simple and edgy. When it comes to fashion, no one else in the Nigerian entertainment industry is doing what Yemi Alade and so effortlessly too.

2…then stick to it

Let’s talk about hair. When you think of Yemi Alade what hairstyle is she rocking? The “pineapple” hair-do has become Yemi Alade’s signature. She has worn it in different colours and added little variations to it along the way. Others might consider sticking to one hairstyle boring yet, a branding essential is consistency.

You have to be consistent in what you do and/or offer. Consistency reinforces the value of your brand. Yemi Alade has been consistent with her pineapple hairstyle and it links back to her style as being part of her overall brand.

3. Show off your best work

When building a successful brand ladies, you’ll have to pay attention to positioning. Once you have put a message out there you must avoid changing it easily. Otherwise you risk confusing your customers. Pay a visit to Yemi Alade’s Twitter page and right there you will see #Johnny. This is a very important branding strategy.

“Johnny” is Yemi Alade’s most successful hit yet and by putting it on her page, she is ensuring that anyone who is a fan of the song will associate it with her. In this way, “Johnny” is now part of her brand, more so than other songs she has released. Using your best work is a great strategy for branding.

4. Don’t be afraid to venture into unknown territory

In finding out what makes your brand unique, you may need to push yourself. Think outside the box, be innovative and bold, be daring and most importantly make sure you are standing for something you believe in.

For me, one more things comes to mind when I think of Yemi Alade; multilingual. She sang a French remix of “Johnny” and brought on a popular French zouk artist for a remix of “Kissing”. Going further she released a Swahili version of “Na Gode”.

Yemi Alade has taken her brand to entirely new levels by speaking to audiences in their own languages. Her brand communicates with fans across borders, something that the only most successful brands accomplish.

What else do you think aspiring #MotherlandMoguls can learn from Yemi Alade? Kindly let us know in the comments section below.

 

Who run the world?: How African women are changing the way we see Africa

In the last few days of June 2015, a hashtag, #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou was trending on Twitter. Within a week, it had been used 54,000 times. Fed up, and in an effort to defy the negative and monoculture stereotypes of Africa, Africans at home and in the diaspora started tweeting vibrant pictures of African landscapes, architecture, food, fashion, and art.

These tweets tell a different story of Africa – one told by Africans themselves.

theafricathemedianevershowsyou

The campaign was reportedly started by  @WestAfricanne, a 17-year-old “aspiring journalist and photographer” and “proud African”. Diana Salah, known by her followers as @lunarnomad, is a 22-year-old American-Somali student and early supporter of the campaign told Fusion: “I got involved because growing up I was made to feel ashamed of my homeland, with negative images that paint Africa as a desolate continent. I used to get questions ranging from ‘were you born in a hut’ to hurtful comments about disease and poverty.”

Poverty, conflict, and marginalization are certainly deep-rooted problems across the continent, but showcasing only these aspects has resulted in what Chimamanda Adichie calls “the danger of the single story”. Here are some of the many ways in which African women are combating stereotypes and prospering against all odds.

We’re blowing up runways

Iman and Alek Wek, hailing from Somalia and South Sudan respectively, are two supermodels who, with their dark and lovely complexions, disrupted the accepted standard of beauty. By sheer example, they paved the way for other dark-skinned women to feel beautiful and comfortable in their skin. Iman is now famous for creating cosmetics for her dark-skinned sisters and Alek Wek has her own handbag line.

iman

Since their come up, models like Liya Kebede of Ethiopia, Ajak Deng and Ataui Deng of South Sudan, Yasmin Warseme and Fatima Said of Somalia, Betty Adewole of Nigeria, Hereith Paul of Tanzania, Maria Borges and Roberta Narciso of Angola, Malaika Firth of Kenya,  and Anai Mali of Chad have all made advances on the runway scene.

But it doesn’t stop there. African designers are also starting to take the world by storm. Nigerian Deola Sagoe uses traditional prints and fabric in her designs, elevating African cloth with a modern twist. A stylistic trademark, Sagoe’s creations are often layered outfits. She has received nods of approval from the likes of Oprah and Will Smith.

deola sagoe

Folake Folarin Coker is another Nigerian designer and founder of the international brand Tiffany Amber. Coker’s cultural duality is visible in her designs. Twin sisters, Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim, hail from Somalia. Together they founded their brand Mataano (which means twins in Somali) and their debut collection launched in 2009 getting them an interview via Skype on Oprah. Since then, they’ve received attention from Vogue Italia, Essence Magazine, and CNN International.

We’re rebuilding countries

If you’re into architecture, you might have heard of Olajumoke Adenowo. This Motherland Mogul found herself at the University of Ife at just 14 years old, got her first architectural degree by 19, was working and designing her very first building by 23, and three years later endeavoured to start her own firm.

Olajumoke Adenowo

Twenty years later, the 46 year old has worked on the design and construction of over 70 buildings. Her resume spans institutional buildings, estates, offices, auditoriums, and homes. Adenowo’s firm, AD Consulting Limited is internationally known and she even has her own radio show dedicated to mentoring women. One of the most successful Nigerian architects, Adenowo continues to rebuild Nigeria’s landscape with her vision.

We run countries now

As of June 2015, the Motherland has had four female heads of state. Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, a biodiversity scientist, was sworn in as the 6th president of the island nation of Mauritius. Dr. Gurib-Fakim now joins the ranks of Joyce Banda of Malawi (2012-14), Catherine Samba-Panza of Central African Republic (2014-), and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf or “Ma Ellen” of Liberia (2006-).

joyce banda

Banda became president of Malawi after the death of its then president Bingu wa Mutharika. During her presidency, Banda sold the presidential jet to feed over 1 million people starving from food shortages. As an interim president, Samba-Panza was selected to govern her country during a nearly year-long power struggle between Christians and Muslims that has displaced about a quarter of the population.

Sirleaf, the first elected African female head of state and an inspiration to Samba-Panza, inherited a post-conflict Liberia. Her efforts to rebuild the country and her advocacy for women’s rights made her one of the three people to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

What about you? What makes you a part of #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou?

3 ways to find your passion the African way

African education is said to be limiting in that it does not allow children to truly explore their passion, discover their creativity and hone in on their innovative capabilities. This by all accounts is true. Primary and Secondary education for the most part in African countries focus on passing a test. Post-university, if you are not a lawyer or a doctor, for many parents, you have failed.

It is interesting how this poor conceptualization of success is still prevalent in many African homes today. This means that for the average African, average in ability and in aptitude, school isn’t where you will discover what it is that inspires and drives you to succeed. So the question becomes, as a young woman, how does one truly discover this thing called passion in an African context?

1. What comes naturally to you/what are you good at?

The idea of what comes naturally to you in my opinion is very often limited to the ability of your hands or again your aptitude. Your personality and character a lot of the time is very closely aligned with what it is you are passionate about.

So, while very obvious activities such as your love of maths or how well you make a pot of jollof may apply, it is essential that you consider the character that is within you. Focus on the little personality traits that many could miss, such as your affinity for children, or how people taking a liking to you, or better yet how helping people is engraved in your DNA.

While each of these are applicable to a wide range of jobs, it provides you with a starting point for narrowing down what it is you will excel at doing.

2. What do you do in your spare time?

What is that thing that you spend all your free time doing? Are you reading books, writing poems, drawing, singing, free styling, baking or cooking? Think about that one thing you always want to do in your leisure time, what you do to de-stress, what you gravitate towards doing when you are alone.

If you can identify a trend, or the recurrence of a particular activity that isn’t sleep, then you are displaying persistent interest in that activity. Be sure you have found something you are passionate about.

3. What do you like to talk about ?

What we are passionate about a lot of the time is evident in what we talk about. To discover your passion, reflect on all the conversations you are so eager to jump into.

You may not yet have chalked it up to a passion, but it is apparent in how your heart feels conviction for the topic, how your opinions must be heard on the topic, how you must suddenly raise your voice and stand up to display just how much authority you have in said topic.

It is true that we stand for what we are passionate about, especially when we must defend it.

Finding your passion, if it isn’t an innate talent, is not easy, neither is it impossible. Give yourself time to find out what you are passionate about, get a journal and note your likes and dislikes.

As time passes by, you will replace, delete and add more. Your passion may not be the status quo but if everyone on earth did the same thing, we will be boring species.

 

10 TED talks by African women that will inspire you this year

Chimamanda’s Danger of a Single Story remains the most popular TED Talk on Africa of all time. The talk boasts more than 9 million views on the TED website and 1 million+ views on YouTube.

I researched other African women sharing great insight on the TED stage and found 10 of the best that was produced in 2015. Here are 10 African women who gave inspiring Ted Talks last year:

Memory Banda

At 18, I was most concerned with getting the latest Iphone. Memory Banda on the other hand, successfully influenced the Malawi parliament to raise the legal marriage from 15 to 18. After watching her sister get pregnant at 11, Memory vowed to defy the traditional practice of kusasafumbi, a practice in which young girls are forced into marriage once they begin menstruation.

Now an avid girl’s rights activist, Memory shows a glimpse of her strength and resilience in this passionate speech about girls right to choose at the TEDWomen 2015 conference.

Taiye Selasi

Discounted by some as a “First World Problem”, Taiye’s Selasi asks the question, “Where are you from?”  in reference to migration around the world.

Taiye has lived in four continents, and her critically acclaimed book “Ghana Must Go,” details the complexity of human identity.

MaameYaa Baofo

Although Nollywood has established itself as an industry to be reckoned with in Africa, many African parents are still unlikely to be thrilled with a child actively choosing acting as a desired profession. MaameYaa Baofo, a New-York based Ghanaian actress, is also gifted orator.

In this talk, she uses her experience of pursuing acting despite discouragement from others to discuss the importance of being your authentic self without apology.

 Zodidi Jewel Gaseb

Zodidi is a Namibian woman who discusses the impacts of Western beauty ideals on women through her personal journey of wearing her hair natural. She was inspired to grow out her naturally kinky hair after she realized that her daughter perceived her long flowy extensions as the standard of beauty.

She challenges negative stereotypes about black hair in this short but poignant video:

Yawa Hansen-Quao

“Your voice is your Power” is the key message of this inspiring video by Ghanaian born and US raised Yawa Hansen-Quao, the leader of the Leading Ladies Network (LLN).

Her talk aligns with the ethos of the LLN, an organization dedicated to encouraging young women to participate in entrepreneurship and leadership.

Mallence Bart-Williams

Malence is the founder of Folorunsho, a Not-for-profit organization that she says is “not a charity”.  Mallence believes charities in Africa foster the rhetoric of poverty and dependency on the West.

She briefly explores the impact of post-colonialism on African countries as the impetus for her collective which connects a group of street boys aged 14 – 20 living in the slums of Freetown, Sierra Leone Lion Base and encourages them to be self-sufficient through creativity:

 

Ola Orekunrin

Becoming one of the youngest medical doctors in England at the age of 21 was just the tip of the iceberg for Ola Orekunrin’s promising career. She went on to create The Flying Doctors initiative, West Africa’s first emergency air ambulance service.

The success of her initiative earned her a New Voices Fellow at the Apsen Institute and a Young Global Leader title by the World Economic Forum in 2013In this TEDxTalk, she address the sexism women in business and positions of power experience, despite their noteworthy achievements.

Afua Hirsch

An experienced journalist, Afua Hirsch is the social affairs and education editor for Sky News. In this refreshingly honest video, Afua asserts that we do not live in a post-racial society as there are still several stereotypes associated with blackness.

She refutes the popular “ I don’t see colour” rhetoric by explaining that we cannot transcend racial tension and microaggressions without having honest conversations about race.

Ekua Armah

Ekua was a senior at the University of Southern California majoring in health promotion and disease prevention students at the time of this speech.

As a public and women’s health educator, Armah discusses using social media as a transformative tool to enhance women’s lives.

Salima Visram

Visram is the founder of the social enterprise, Solour Backpack. The problem: school children in certain rural areas in Kenya do not have access to lights and electricity to complete their school assignments, thus creating a vicious cycle of poverty.

To address this issue, the backpack company leverages the power of the sun by outfitting their backpacks with solar panels which provides electricity to the school children at night. In this TedxTalk, Visram discusses children’s inability to stay in school and the work we can do to prevent this.

What were some of your favourite speeches in 2015? Do you plan on giving a speech or TED Talk this year? Do share with the community.

6 beliefs you need to abandon to unlock your professional blessings in 2016

We’ve all done the negative self-talk at some point in our lives. Sadly, we’ve held onto self- defeating beliefs without knowing it. The SLA team has put together the 6 most defeating beliefs, that if adopted would keep you at the top of your career and yield business success.

Your old belief: Only one person can win

New belief: We can all win!

6 beliefs you need to abandon to unlock your professional blessings in 2016

Your old belief: everyone’s trajectory for success is the same

New belief: You have the opportunity to create your own path

6 beliefs you need to abandon to unlock your professional blessings in 2016-2

Your old belief: I am a victim of my circumstances

New belief: Your crown has already been paid for

Rain Queens of Africa

Your old belief: I don’t have my own brand of greatness

New belief: Being yourself is great enough

Nikis Groove

Your old belief: I need to do everything

New belief: I only need to focus on one or two things and do them exceptionally well

6 beliefs you need to abandon to unlock your professional blessings in 2016-5

Your old belief: I have to prove myself to everyone

New belief: I only need to prove that I can do it to myself.

6 beliefs you need to abandon to unlock your professional blessings in 2016-6

So which of these self defeating beliefs did you have in 2015? Which ones are you dropping in 2016, and  new ones are you adopting in 2016? Share this article with a friend to help keep you on track this year.

 

7 reasons entrepreneurs should travel for leisure

picha stock she leads africa

Entrepreneurial travel typically consist of meetings, conferences, summits, pitch competitions and networking events. As such, entrepreneurs rarely experience the places they visit. Due to their busy schedules, they miss out on interacting with residents, immersing themselves in the local culture, and sightseeing.  

Last week, I returned to Chicago from my trip to Colombia. It was a rich and fruitful month of travel as I visited seven different cities.

From my experience, I have compiled seven reasons entrepreneurs should travel for leisure.

1. You learn more about yourself

When you visit a foreign place you are pushed out of your comfort zone. This is the best time for you to see your “true colors”. Your reaction to different cultural norms, unexpected tough situations, and interactions with fellow travellers will reveal traits you didn’t know you had.

As an entrepreneur, it is critical to know yourself. This self-awareness will allow you to recognize your strengths and weaknesses, your effect on others, as well as areas that you need to improve on.

2. It opens your mind

People tend to assume that they are experts in life because they have a wealth of social, academic and professional experiences. Once you are exposed to a different environment and culture, you realize how the knowledge you have is limited. Travel helps shift your perspective.

It becomes clear that your way of thinking is not necessarily the only one or the best out there. As an entrepreneur you need to be open-minded. That way you will be able to collaborate effectively with your team, investors and even clients in order to fulfill your vision.

3. It boosts your emotional intelligence

Travel gives you the opportunity to meet diverse individuals with incredible stories. It enables you to gain a better understanding of others and become more sensitive to happenings in the world.  

Being book smart is necessary, but many of us forget about the experiential importance of emotional intelligence. Entrepreneurs need that to be able to understand both their workers and clients. The knowledge from books can’t help you relate to others through compassion and empathy, for example.

4. It fosters relationships

If you don’t trap yourself in a resort for the whole trip, then you will make new friends in the area you are visiting. You will be able to learn from and share knowledge with each other.

Through these new friendships, you may potentially meet a future business partner, mentor or investor.

5. It spikes creativity

Being stuck in the same daily routine can stifle your creativity. You may have “entrepreneur’s block.”  

Blocks hurt productivity which is the opposite of what an entrepreneur needs. Traveling exposes you to new aspects of life that will refresh your mind and inspire your work.

6. It increases motivation

Being exposed to a different socio-economic environment is a great motivator. For example, experiencing life in a developed country shows you that the possibilities are endless.

On the other hand, visiting a less developed country may motivate you to use your work for the betterment of society.

7. It is relaxing

Travelling for leisure is relaxing. You get to step out of your bubble and see what’s really going on in the world. It gives you an opportunity to do what you want, when you want, and how you want to.

It gives you a break from the daily grind. Detoxing your mind in this way creates room for great ideas to flourish.

Why smart girls become risk averse women

More attention is being drawn to the obstacles that female entrepreneurs and career women around the world face when looking to reach the next level of professional success.

From studies revealing that women are less likely to receive venture capitalist funding to research confirming that women have to work harder to be considered at par with their male colleagues, it is clear that women face a unique set of challenges in the workforce.

Beyond opportunity and wage inequality, there are gaps in the way young girls are raised that can create a mindset which can hinder the future success of these women.

Women are their own strongest critics

It turns out that most women judge their abilities and intellect much more critically than men do. In one study, fifth grade students with high IQs were given challenging tasks.

The girls were more likely to give up on challenging tasks while the boys worked harder to figure out the solution. Interestingly, the higher the girl’s IQ, the more likely she was to throw in the towel and feel helpless in face of the challenging task.

Gymnast HappyIt should be noted that the girls in the fifth grade, as observed in this study, typically outperform boys in math and science.

So why do otherwise smart girls doubt themselves when it comes to unfamiliar and challenging tasks? What does it have to do with the confidence professional women have in themselves?

Praise and self-confidence in women

Social psychologist Dr. Halvorson’s explanation of this study in a Psychology Today post, provides  great insight on why this happens:

Girls, who develop self-control earlier and are better able to follow instructions, are often praised for their “goodness.” When we do well in school, we are told that we are “so smart,” “so clever, ” or “such a good student.” This kind of praise implies that traits like smartness, cleverness and goodness are qualities you either have or you don’t.

Boys, on the other hand, are a handful. Just trying to get boys to sit still and pay attention is a real challenge for any parent or teacher. As a result, boys are given a lot more feedback that emphasizes effort (e.g., “If you would just pay attention you could learn this,” “If you would just try a little harder you could get it right.”) The net result: When learning something new is truly difficult, girls take it as sign that they aren’t “good” and “smart,” and boys take it as a sign to pay attention and try harder”

Research at Stanford confirms this association: smart young girls are likely to unconsciously retain this perception that ability is a rigid characteristic that cannot be changed. They eventually grow up to be adults that judge themselves harshly and are less likely to take risks or challenges outside their area of expertise.

What does this mean for you?

If you have been mulling about launching a new blog, tech start up, ecommerce store, website or any other venture for a while, and your main concern is your lack of expertise in the field, remember this: the ability to perform a task is very flexible.

Just go for it! Research shows that the key to mastering a skill or area you are unfamiliar with is to be persistent and continue practicing.
Fifth Harmony

Raising a girl child and wondering how you can help her develop a “growth mindset” that sees challenging tasks as an opportunity as opposed to a problem? It’s fairly simple.

Encourage your children of both sexes (especially the girls) by praising their progress and achievements in relation to their hard work. Instead of praising them for work well done by saying, “You are so smart,” recognize them by saying, “You must have worked hard to get this done!”

It’s a message that’s not just great for kids but for budding entrepreneurs too. Nothing great happens overnight; keep building.