Episode 6: Small money…big branding
Last year I had the most amazing encounter at the WIMBIZ conference with a lady that has now become synonymous with well-packaged ‘Akamu’ in Nigeria. She walked up to me after my speaking engagement and said ‘ Hi smart money Arese, I follow you on instagram. I laughed and asked her name and she introduced herself as ‘Nwanyi Akamu’ aka ‘Iyalogi’. I was amused by this introduction because I couldn’t reconcile this well dressed woman with titles that were usually used to describe women who sold ogi on the road but she certainly had my attention. She went on to explain that she was the founder of Bubez foods a company that had basically found a way to produce Akamu in a more hygienic way, with several variants including strawberry and ginger in packaging that looked like international yogurt.
By the time, the two day conference was over 5 out of every 10 wimbiz associates I spoke to asked me if I had met that ‘Akamu lady’. Even the host of the event mentioned her on stage at some point. To be clear, she was merely attending the conference. She wasn’t a wimbiz associate and she wasn’t speaking at the event but she had found an ingenious way to sell herself and sell her market.
3 branding lessons we could learn from Nwanyi Akamu.
Craft an Authentic brand message
There are generally no new ideas, so there’s no need to try to hard to reinvent the wheel but there’s also no need to copy and paste. To make your story authentic you need to add your own Maggi and pepper to it. The combination of things that make it unique to you, your voice, your experiences and your skills, I don’t know the exact history of Ogi in Nigeria but it has probably been eaten by thousands of people over several decades, so there is nothing new about selling Ogi but Nwanyi Akamu has found a new and interesting way to put a spin on it. First of all she has added value to the process and ultimately the customer experience by providing a cleaner more accessible way to consume Akamu. She has also found an engaging way to tell her brand’s story by the fascinating way she introduces herself and goes on to tell people she started what is now a successful million naira business with less than N200.
Leverage on social media to build your network
The world is changing and social media has become such a powerful tool in building a network. It is not just the way we interact with our friends, it’s a new way to build an audience, showcase our products, acquire customers and ultimately grow our businesses. However, to play the game you have to understand the language, what makes you interesting to your target audience? What are their likes, dislikes, hobbies? What kind of conversations do they find engaging? What kind of value can you offer them because ultimately every relationship is about an exchange of value social media or otherwise. Nwanyi Akamu is one of a few awesome people I’ve met on instagram that are now legitimately my friends and have added value to me or my business in one way or the other. Interestingly, this particular interaction had such an impact on me that she landed a cameo in my new personal finance book ‘The smart money woman’ showcasing how to make the best of a networking situation.
Deliver on your brand promise
Your brand promise clarifies what your brand stands for and people have to be able to trust in its fulfillment. In other words your brand has to do what you say it will do. The days are gone when people can afford to spend money on great advertising but not deliver on a great product or service. The advent of social media has changed all that. It means that people now have platforms to voice their opinions on their experience with your brand. So if people have positive experiences with your brand it will lead to great referrals but equally if they have negative experiences with your brand the bad news is guaranteed to spread like wild fire.