Esther Adekeye: How to grow your personal brand in 8 steps

Personal Branding as a Key to Growth in the MediaScape

What do Tiwa Savage, Genevieve, D’banj, Davido, Toke Makinwa, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu all have in common?  Besides their multi-million- naira worth of Social Media followers, and numerous endorsement deals? You guessed right, none of them need an introduction.

They have mastered the art of Personal branding, an ongoing process of prescribing an image or impression in the minds of people. It is not just about being famous for your talents, but also for the values, attributes and ideas you represent.

Tiwa Savage for instance combines beauty, talent and business, to create a powerful brand. Even in a male dominated industry, she has garnered a cult following of over 10 million people across social platforms.

I remember one of my conversations with Tiwa Savage, taking on the African market, she was intentional, intentional with plans, intentional with executions, even with what she puts out and it’s very visible everywhere down to her social pages especially Instagram.

If you want to be seen as more than just a kiosk or one minute wonder, pay attention to these key annotations below:

  1. Define your brand. Teddy A didn’t become famous just because of Big Brother Nigeria, he put in efforts into defining his brand for himself (as opposed to letting others define them). To define your own personal brand, you need to know yourself. What do you want to be known for? What do you value? What are you passionate about? The answers to these questions will help you shape your path.
  2. Offer something unique. Simi, asides her sonorous voice is also known for her dynamic stage performances, song writer, producer, sound engineer and actor. She offers something that redefines the business of music. What makes you stand out?
  3. Perfect your craft. This is probably the first rule in branding. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. She may have multi-million-naira endorsement deals, a book, a side gig and more, but Toke Makinwa started out as an On Air Personality. Only after she established herself and gained credibility in the industry did she launch her Vlogging, book and other business ventures. Pick one thing you want to be known for and focus on being the best at that first.
  4. Create opportunities for yourself. In addition to starring in movies, hosting talk shows or dropping albums, Tiwa Savage has remained relevant through carefully selected affiliation with brands to promote/market their products; from feminine care products to beverages, telecoms, baby care products to even alcohol, First African artiste to join Pepsi.

You should be finding ways to broaden your exposure to different audiences. Start a blog or offer to guest blog on someone else’s. Apply to be a speaker at industry events. Write a book. Start a podcast. Do anything you can (that is true to your brand) to get your name out there and further establish yourself as an expert in your field. Leverage what you have.

  1. Maintain quality social capital. Banky W has Tunde Demuren, Wizkid has Tiwa Savage, Femi Otedola has Dangote, Omoni Oboli has Uche Jumbo, Ufoma McDermott, Chioma Chukuwka, BamBam has Teddy A.  Celebrities with powerful personal brands surround themselves with other powerful celebrities.

The  lesson? Build your network with professionals you admire and whose level of success you aspire to. Of course, this is easier said than done, as making connections and building relationships take time and effort – not to mention the relationship should be mutually beneficial.

  1. Be Intentional about social media. Social Media is only as useful as what you make out of it, that’s why we have a lot of content creators these days who have become celebrities in their own right. They have active followers on social media, but they are also strategic about what they choose to put out into the world. They know how they want to be perceived and structure their posts accordingly, with a set pattern. Consider doing the same with your own social media accounts. Talk to people when they talk to you. Interact with people who care about the same things you do—the same rules of face-to-face etiquette applies to social networks.

The next time you post, link, upload or tweet, really think about what you are putting out there, and what you are presenting to the world in general (and potential employers in particular).  If it doesn’t match your personal brand, don’t post it.

  1. Be Original. While you want to stand out, you also don’t want to try to be something you’re not. People can spot inauthenticity a mile away, and the minute they sense it in you, you will lose their trust.
  2. 8. Be patient. You can’t create a personal brand overnight. It takes time and continuous effort to build it.

A person’s reputation often rests in their own fragile hands. Sometimes, they can use that power to their advantage; other times, it can destroy them altogether.

Now that I have placed the cards in front of you, choose your game.


Adekeye Esther Tosin is a Media Professional and Chief Disruptor at Estol Africa. She can be reached on Twitter via @cutekimani

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