As Motherland Moguls living in the new millennia, we have a diverse group of women in leadership to get inspiration from. Here are lessons from 4 African women who have #slayed the past decade to help you to reach your Vision 2020 goals.
1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Get your receipts 🕵🏾♀️
Chimamanda’s success in the literary world comes from her ability to consistently publish high-quality work. The secret sauce for the Queen of African Literature? Reading
Chimamanda is an avid reader and researcher. Half Of a Yellow Sun, her second novel and an international bestseller, took four years of intense research and writing.
Nothing says investing in yourself like putting your name on something and sharing it with the world. Bonang has established her name as a valuable brand that will make everything from Champagne to mobile apps valuable.
Bonang’s success comes from years of strategic self-investment. If you ever doubt that you can do something, pull a Bonang.
After a show she was writing for got cancelled, Yvonne focused on creating her own opportunities with the resources she had.
In 2016, Yvonne created and starred in First Gen, a sitcom she piloted on YouTube with the goal of selling it to a major network. While the show never got picked up, it caught the attention of Issa Rae and producers at HBO when they were casting for Insecure.
Yvonne has continued to leverage her resources and network to get things done. She created her hit podcast with fellow Nigerian comedienne, Luvvie Ajayi, launched an international comedy tour and is scheduled to publish her first book in March 2020.
The lesson from Yvonne – start with what you have and build from there.
Amber Williams is the founder of Punkyflair, a brand story shop that serves beauty, fashion, and lifestyle startups. Building iconic statement-making brands is her jam, and she is committed to helping businesses grow authentically through a story.
Through Punkyflair, Amber has positioned new businesses in the marketplace, molded magnetic personalities, crafted money-making narratives, and named global product collections for leading brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Shea Radiance, and Marjani.
Amber Williams connects young brands to the customers they want to reach through a story. She believes that story is the most critical business asset for one simple reason: it can’t be duplicated.
It is the key to building a brand that will withstand the test of time and last forever.
In this interview, she discusses how you can best understand your audience, communicate your vision, and sell with a story.
Tell us how and why you started Punkyflair
My early career was spent in corporate America where I used my formal training in psychology and integrated marketing to create and launch brand strategies for companies like Armani Exchange, Volkswagen, The United States Olympic Committee, and Feeding America.
I was working within a world of limitless resources and possibilities in marketing. I had the freedom to be creative, spend however much was needed, and most importantly – test the water.
After several years of implementing creative brand marketing campaigns, I realized that my signature approach to every strategy I created was rooted in a story.
Every idea, every narrative, and every message I built told a story. Inadvertently, I used my knack for writing and understanding of human behavior to put words together that would sell clothing, jewelry, cars, and even promote funds for world-renowned athletes.
I was a storyteller. At 29, I decided that I would package up my approach and all of my corporate learnings into a framework that would help startups launch and grow their businesses.
I created Punkyflair to empower entrepreneurs with the tools, training and thinking necessary to understand their audience, communicate their vision, and sell with the story.
Today, I have the good fortune of doing so for leading woman-owned brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Marjani, BLK+GRN, and Shea Radiance.
What is brand storytelling and where does it fit in marketing strategy?
Simply put, brand storytelling is a method for connection. If you consider your favorite storybook or movie, there is most likely a character in it that resonates most with you.
Maybe it’s because you see yourself in them. Perhaps it’s because that character represents who you want to be. All great stories make you look at yourself and consider how you connect to the tale being told. Brand storytelling is no different.
A great brand story lets your customers know why you exist and how you fit into their lives. When done well, your brand provides the perfect reflection for who they already are but better. Brand storytelling is the most effective, non-salesly way to build meaningful and profitable relationships with the customers you want to reach.
How can businesses effectively explore the core elements that make up their customer profile?
All businesses should view their customers as the star characters in their brand story. Everything that your brand does–from operations to product innovation and marketing–should be built around your customer. It always amazes me how many entrepreneurs are willing to skip this essential first step.
A strong customer profile is made up of three key elements: perspective, preference, and personality. Understanding your customer’s perspective is all about figuring out where your customer is coming from, the unique challenges they face, and what they really want from your brand.
The next step is to discover what your customer prefers by digging deep to understand purchase motivators and where your brand solution fits into their lives. Finally, you’ll want to explore your customer’s personality traits.
Doing so will help you tailor your messaging in a way that gets the people you want to reach to listen and buy from you.
As they discover their customers, how do businesses determine the best approach in talking to their audience?
Now that you know more about your customers, you’ll want to speak to them in a language that they understand. The best approach is first to visualize precisely who this person is. Bringing the person you want to reach to life humanizes your communication.
It brings back the reality that you, as the brand, are talking to a real person. When working to craft your narrative, ask yourself these four questions:
Why does my brand exist?
What problem do we solve for our customers?
What values or beliefs do we stand on as a business?
How do our products/services make our customers’ lives better?
The answers to these questions make up your core brand narrative, letting your customers know exactly why they should trust and buy from you. Plaster them everywhere (tactfully of course)!
As businesses increasingly incorporate storytelling in marketing strategy, how can “Motherland Moguls” craft a brand story that yields customer action?
The marketplace is getting extremely crowded! It’s never been harder to cut through the clutter than it is now. Customers are continuously bombarded with marketing messages and brands are spending a significant amount of money just to stay visible.
In this landscape, the challenge lies in not only being seen, but in making money also. The best way that Motherland Moguls can yield a favorable action from their target customers is to keep a pulse on their customers’ wants and needs.
Don’t get too caught up in the competition and what they’re doing. Always remember that people are buying from your brand for a reason. Serve them and then explore what else you can create to serve them again. Be authentic and tell the story only you can sell.
What’s your go-to advice to a business owner trying to instill more brand storytelling?
My go-to advice is simple: take yourself out of it. Simple, right? The #1 thing you must do to grow your brand and instill more storytelling is to get yourself out of it.
Sure, you are the founder and mastermind behind the business. It was your sweat equity and creativity that launched the brand. You identified a problem and created a solution. It’s your baby. I get it.
However, if you want your baby to grow, you have to move out the way and tell a story in your marketing that centers around the customer, not yourself. Customers are drawn to brands that they can see themselves.
Make your story a two-way dialogue, not a diatribe about your own journey. Spend some time understanding what matters to your people: what values they hold, what additional problems they face, what viewpoints they have on the world and your industry. Create stories from the deeper emotional layers that (above all else) truly connect customers to brands.
What product and service offering do you have in the works to help rising entrepreneurs with brand storytelling?
I recently released Customer Kamikaze. my 3-part customer discovery framework. It’s the exact same framework I’ve used to help my startup clients scale their businesses (some into the millions) by understanding their customers and building their brand stories around them.
People love it because it’s self-paced and fun! The exercises are intuitive, simple and impactful. Also, the result, once the framework is applied, is far higher than the minimal cost of the product.
I wanted to create something super affordable, even for early-stage entrepreneurs, but something that would have a tremendous impact and set the tone for a brand story that sells.
What are you most excited about at the moment, and what are you working on next?
I’m most excited about my next chapter! I want to move in a direction that allows me to help multiple entrepreneurs at once. This fall, I’ll be speaking more and even playing around with group coaching and live workshops.
Brand story is a concept that I absolutely love teaching and one that I love to see entrepreneurs benefit.
Amber Williams is offering a free audio training on building lasting brands. Contact her here.
Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.
Samantha Mogwe is a Motswana singer/songwriter who brings a fused element of neo-soul/RnB. Raised to appreciate poetry and performing arts, she was exposed to music at an early age.
She has had the opportunity to perform not only in Botswana but in South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, and Sweden. Sharing the stage with well-known artists such as Zahara, The Soil, Zonke, Joe Thomas, Kenny Latimore, Lira, Micasa, Hugh Masikela among others.
Samantha is a 2014 YAMA award winner for Best Female Artist for the year and a BOMU Award winner for Best packaged Album, in 2015.
She is a multifaceted individual who places great value on edification and re-inventive qualities. She holds a degree in Theology and has studied music with the Trinity College of London.
Samantha is a wife and a mother, radio personality on local radio station Gabz Fm, a voice coach, fitness enthusiast and businesswoman who maintains her work-life balance by scheduling everything and prioritizing what is important.
In this interview, she chats to us about personal and business branding qualities, new radio show venture and social entrepreneurship.
Have you always wanted to be a musician?
I come from a family that loves music and arts in general. I knew I loved music but I did not grow up thinking I would choose music as a career.
It’s something that crept up on me when my best friend forced me to join My African Dream when we were 15. We came second in our category and then I would always find myself gravitating towards performing on stage despite fear and being shy.
How have you steered clear of the ideology that doing music in Botswana is not a sustainable career?
Like any career, the arts are unpredictable, and I say this because we now live in a time where a staggering number of our graduates are unemployed even though they are in fields that our parents assume would be safer when it comes to making an income.
I personally have never been the type of person who was caught up in following the ideas and norms of what society expected of me.
I think it’s because I remind myself that I came into this world alone, and one day I will SOLELY stand before God to give an account of what I did with the gifts and opportunities that He has given me.
My faith and hope for being a successful musician are what also fuelled me to keep at it even when there were so many reasons to just simply give up and try something that seemed to have more certainty.
Why was it important for you to transition into the radio realm and how did you prepare for it?
How I got into radio was a bit of a strange one. Some people think it’s because I “knew someone” who gave me the opportunity but that is not how it happened.
At the beginning of 2017, I had a deep inclination to invest in myself and learn the art of public speaking. I joined Gaborone Toast Masters and spent the entire year with the Club, learning how to speak in public without being afraid and how to articulate myself.
Gabz Fm then put out an advert where they were looking for new radio presenters and I tried to ignore it. My husband and sister then convinced me to drop off my applications and demo.
Three months later after they had gone through the applicants, I was shortlisted to join a group of ten who had potential. We began training in December of 2017 into January of 2018 and that’s how I got in.
I have always known that I would love to be able to speak on a public platform because writing music can be limiting as you are working on sharing an idea on an instrumental that is less than 4 minutes. That’s quite limiting.
I wanted to diversify my brand in a way that still maintained my purpose and vision and also challenged me so that I would keep growing as a person.
Not only that, I found that it was important that I should try and reach people who might only see me as a performing artist, but often wouldn’t think that I have opinions on issues that we as Batswana are dealing with on a day to day basis.
The “Sams Purple Lounge” among other things addresses interesting business and social issues. What encouraged you to address these?
I want us to fix ourselves and in turn fix our immediate community in our own little way. This is what Sams Purple Lounge is out to do.
To be honest, I have gotten tired of having us constantly complaining as a people. We have many problems in our society so why not show solutions.
This is why I try to bring guests who are addressing various social concerns. Our conversations are geared toward fixing social issues, and also at times educating and challenging the mindset that often needs challenging and encouragement to look at life beyond ‘ME, MYSELF AND I’!
I am overwhelmed by the response. So far people love it, and I couldn’t be happier because that encourages me to keep going and keep growing as a radio presenter.
Can you tell us more about your social enterprises?
I have aligned myself with two specific social causes:
LOVE IS ART: The whole point is to use theatre and performing arts during the 16 days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse. Here we tell stories aimed at creating dialogue and in the process, we raise funds for safe houses for battered women and children.
This seems to be a big trouble area for Batswana as most times, we do not talk about the abuse that goes on in our homes. We see that women are daily encouraged to stay with spouses who abuse them and/or their children.
We have also gone as far having a sanitary pad drive for incarcerated women.
SKY GIRLS BW: I have been working with them since 2014, and the relationship stems from their focus on the young Motswana girl.
Teaching the young girl how to be assertive, how to be grounded and how to be okay with being themselves and not succumbing to peer pressure that comes in different forms. I think this especially is close to my heart because our peers can often derail us from following a dream.
This is because they do not understand what it is that we want to achieve in life, and I know this as someone who decided to follow the arts as a chosen career path instead of the conventional 8-5 office job.
Name three factors you used in building and sustaining your personal/business brand.
Looking back at my own personal brand, I would say what has helped me achieve a sustainable brand over the past few years include the following things
A lot of the time, people assume that you have to be a certain way in order to amass a following of a specific magnitude. I have never tried to be anything that is not Samantha Mogwe. You will see this is not only what I post on social media, but how I write my music as well as the content I bring on my radio show.
I try to be transparent and real when it comes to what I portray. I also ensure that I am credible and trustworthy. In being authentic, I make it known that I am finding my way, learning and growing just like everyone else. I am never afraid to admit when I don’t know something.
Another thing that people will realize is authenticity cannot be faked as people watch and observe to see if you maintain consistency in the things that you value and how I communicate issues that are close to your heart.
From the beginning, I have always told myself that I wanted to live a life that made a difference in the lives of people. This might include simply educating, bringing awareness, teaching, challenging.
My purpose is clear in the lyrical content of my music, in my radio show, in the conversations I have, in the projects that I affiliate my brand with, in the things I post about on social media.
How prominent is your brand? I have always made sure that I continued and still continue to build my brand internally and externally. This means that I attend networking sessions and find ways to grow myself.
I collaborate with other brands that share the same values as me. Even when I was expecting my son and took a break from music, I maintained visibility. This kept me visible yet allowed me to share something that I was passionate about.
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