9 things I’ve learned about branding (and life)

Last year, while launching a branding course when my son was just a few months old, it dawned on me that there were several parallels between branding principles and infant development. Upon further reflection, I realised that there are indeed several parallels between branding and life!

Today, I’d like to share branding lessons that I’ve learned, in my 10+ years of professional advertising and graphic design practice, and my 30+ years of life.

Continue reading “9 things I’ve learned about branding (and life)”

No new clothes: a story about branding and freedom

Branding and freedom aren’t two words you usually see together in a sentence. Let me tell you a story …

I used to go to job interviews in a suit. A nondescript black or navy trouser suit that was ill-fitting in so many ways. Firstly, the anatomy I’m blessed with makes finding a flattering off-the-shelf trouser suit quite difficult. Vanity aside, there I was, a young excited professional creative, going to find a job in my field, looking like an accountant!

Somewhere along the journey into adulthood, I had picked up this idea that this is how things were done. Serious situations like job interviews called for “serious” attire and, we all know that means a suit. Despite the fact that people who already worked at these places never/rarely wore suits. Despite the fact that I was largely being judged on my creativity and, we all know how your visual presentation has the power to influence decisions. My choice of clothing just didn’t make sense.

Presentation is everything

Continue reading “No new clothes: a story about branding and freedom”

Expand in creativity, business and life – September round-up

Regular readers may have noticed my blogging hiatus, as I reconfigured my life and business. However, Afri-love subscribers have been less neglected, thanks to A week of Afri-love: a weekly email I started a few months ago, where I share 5 Afri-love-worthy things. Each edition includes:

  1. Buy African: featuring exquisite African-made/made in Africa goods
  2. Something to look at, read, watch or listen to
  3. Some visual place to get lost in (usually amazing Instagram feeds that will fuel your imagination and take you places!)
  4. Events across the world
  5. Last but not least, an “expand” item – something that I’ve come across that has been useful for me in my quest for better health, creative excellence and success in my business

For those who don’t receive these nuggets weekly, I thought I’d do a round-up of “expand” posts, every 2 months, selecting just 5 of my favourite items.

Here’s edition number one! Continue reading “Expand in creativity, business and life – September round-up”

Goodbye Asilia: new business directions

Goodbye-Asilia-–-New-Business-Directions
 
This month marks 5 years of running my business. It's been a hell of a ride – high moments, challenging times and everything in between. All with a great business partner and an amazing team by my side. But now, it's time for a change …
 
A key part of the Asilia ethos has always been about following your heart and doing work you love. We’ve constantly strived to practice what we preach. That’s why we love working with other passionate people and why our self-directed projects are so important to us.
 
Over the past 5 years, these projects have evolved in different ways. Some have been more satisfying and successful than others – Afri-love, Afriapps and Black White Simple being the ones that have most resonated with the wider world.
 
 
Products of change
These projects, along with our experiences working with clients over the years, have taught us important lessons; opened up new opportunities we couldn’t have foreseen and; challenged and expanded our visions, when it comes to the contributions we want to bring to the world.
 
In being true to ourselves, our passions, our new circumstances and environments, we have decided on a new future for our professional paths.

Continue reading “Goodbye Asilia: new business directions”

Finding the right graphic designer for you – dos and don’ts

This post was originally written for Your Radiant Business – a blog created by my homeopath, Tracy Karkut-Law, and I, born out of our shared passion for the web and social media. On the blog we share everything we know about building a great online presence. It’s targeted towards homeopaths but a lot of the content is transferable for people building a business in other fields. This post fits that bill and I thought I’d repurpose it a little to share with you.

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People are naturally very visual and, like it or not, many of us make judgements based on how something looks. ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is a common warning for a reason!

It’s important to think about whether your communication materials are aligned with the personality of your business, your values, what you want to be known for and how you want to make people feel. All of these things can be expressed through the design decisions you make, be it the colours and fonts you choose, the style of your imagery and how you put all of these elements together.

Let’s face it, this can be fiddly. And it’s hard to know if you’ve got it right. What might seem sufficient in your eyes, may not be effective in communicating your message to the world and, specifically, to your prospective clients/customers.

How can you create materials that let people know that you’re the right option for them (and keep your sanity at the same time)?

Continue reading “Finding the right graphic designer for you – dos and don’ts”

Interview with Screenprinter, Lusungu Chikamata of Creativity and Noise

Lusungu-Chikamata-Creativity-and-Noise-Interview-African-T-shirt-Guggenheim-1

 

Today’s interview features screenprinter, Lusungu Chikamata, founder of Creativity and Noise. It’s a great story of persistence and resourcefulness – I think sometimes we think everything has to be perfect before we can begin when actually, just getting started gets you to perfection faster! Find out how Lusungu learned a brand new skill and launched a creative enterprise, all alongside his day job.

Continue reading “Interview with Screenprinter, Lusungu Chikamata of Creativity and Noise”

Afri-love and Step and Stone present: ClarityCall – 10th January 2015

Afri-love-Step-and-Stone-ClarityCall-crop

 

I know many of us are counting down to Christmas and the opportunity to take a break; spend quality time with family and friends and; rejuvenate our energy and spirits. For some people, thinking about work is the last thing they want to do as the year rolls to a close. But for a few of us, whose work is fuelled by passion and a desire to realise a dream, there is no ‘off’ button. If you’re anything like me, you’re looking forward to the down time, so that you can spend it strategising and planning how to take your business to the next level, in 2015. 

I have a feeling many of you resonate with what I’m saying and I’ve got some wonderful news for you! I’ve partnered with the coolest startup coach I know, Danielle Anderson, to deliver a ClarityCall webinar on the 10th of January, to help you get started the way you mean to go on. This is an exclusive opportunity for you, my Afri-love community, wherever in the world you might be.

I've done this exercise with Danielle myself and it really helped me to focus on what was most important for my business at that time. It can be really hard to have that kind of perspective when you're juggling the myriad day-to-day demands of work and life. The results and momentum that I've experienced in the past couple of months, are testament to the power and value of giving myself the time to do this with Danielle. I wish this sort of pause, clarity and progress for you all so, I'm thrilled that Danielle has offered to run this exercise for us.

 

About This Webinar
Entrepreneurs, startups, and small business owners share a common trait: trying to turn a vision into a reality. In this workshop, we’ll tackle the question responsible for many restless nights: “How will I ever get to where I want to be?” You’ll be guided through a powerful, reflective exercise to help translate your big dream into a clear, actionable plan and get your business off the ground.

 

Takeaways

  • Be able to make decisions on where best to place your limited time and energy.
  • Gain a realistic action plan for what to do next.
  • Learn how to plan for your business without a wordy, conventional (and dull) “business plan”.
  • Discover the most important areas for you to focus on first.
  • Find out how to break down the barriers that impede your progress.
  • Leave with a clear direction on where you’re heading.

 

 

Continue reading “Afri-love and Step and Stone present: ClarityCall – 10th January 2015”

5 Better Ways to Network: Entrepreneurs Need People, Part III

Reframing-Networking-Growing-Connections-CAKE-Series

 

The term ‘networking’ used to put me off. I’d imagine an awkward room full of strangers, standing around trying to impress others. Others who, had already made up their minds about who they were going to pay attention to or not.

Cynical, I know but, I’d spent countless evenings at networking events, hoping for a different experience, in vain. Instead, I’d come home feeling, if I’m honest, a bit less confident and wondering if there was something wrong with me.

Yup, been there. Over it.

 

A necessary evil?
At the same time, I knew there was a reason people were putting themselves through this. I knew it could be a solution to one of the common challenges that we touched on in the first CAKE Series Twitter chat, a few weeks ago: how to focus on your current plate of work, but also keep new work coming in.

The turning point
The past year has been very different and it’s all thanks to some amazing women that I know, who each invited me to be a part of something. I’ll get on to that in a moment, but first … Once I found ways to network that worked for me, I realised 2 things:

Continue reading “5 Better Ways to Network: Entrepreneurs Need People, Part III”

Hobby or Business: Should you Take your Creative Pursuits to the Next Level?

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My experience of running a business has been rewarding in many ways but, it’s no walk in the park. If you’re creatively inclined like myself, you may have had the thought: “how can I design my life so that I get to do more of this making stuff?” It’s no secret that I’m a big advocate of this – I’m often encouraging people to go for it. However, if you’re planning on making a living from it, it’s important to really think about whether you want to create a business of it, or if you’re better off with a creative hobby. 

Here are some questions to help you decide:

Passion
a). Do you have an unwavering love for what you do? Do you eat, sleep, breathe and think about it all the time?
OR 
b). Do you just like it a lot right now?

Focus
a). Do you have a relatively clear vision of the career and lifestyle you want to have?
OR
b). Does your vision change fundamentally, with every day, every encounter and every new experience?

Drive
a). Are you a self-starter?
OR
b). Do you prefer to have things all planned out for you?

Multi-tasking ability
a). Are you adept at juggling several different tasks and responsibilities?
OR 
b). Do you prefer to work exclusively on one thing at a time?

Confidence and fearlessness
a). Are you proud to show and tell the world about what you’re doing?
OR
b). Do you hate talking about yourself?

Resilience
a). Do you have a thick skin when it comes to what others think and say about you and your work?
OR
b). Would you rather not put yourself out there for scrutiny?

If you responded ‘yes’ to most of the ‘a’ questions – welcome to the wonderful and challenging world of enterprise!

If you responded ‘yes’ to most of the ‘b’ questions – why ruin a good thing? Why not nurture your creativity without the pressures of business, for now?

If I had to sum up the qualities I think it takes to make a living from your craft, I’d say that these are up there: passion, focus, drive, multi-tasking ability, confidence (at least enough to fake it well), fearlessness and resilience.

At the end of the day, running a creative business is about so much more than just making (see my post on non-creative business priorities for creative professionals). Some people welcome this as a necessary part of the lifestyle they want to lead but, for others, these demands destroy their enjoyment of their craft. With a creative project, you can change your mind, change the plan at a whim or quit at any point. You can do so with a creative business too but, the consequences of this kind of spontaneity could be more significant.

Let me know if this post has been useful to your decision-making. 

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Related:

Continue reading “Hobby or Business: Should you Take your Creative Pursuits to the Next Level?”

Beyond Making: Non-Creative Business Priorities, for Creative Professionals

I wanted to be a creative professional because I like to come up with ideas and to make things. I wanted to be an entrepreneur because I wanted more freedom over my ideamongering (yes, I made that up) and my making. The hard truth of the matter is that, running a creative business is still running a business. As much as I would love to spend all my time developing concepts, drawing and designing, in reality that has often only taken up half, if that, of my work time.

I’m not complaining because my situation does indeed enable me to live life (a little more) on my own terms. With the wisdom of experience, I continuously make adjustments to free up more time and space to create. It’s about finding a balance. A team and a business partner can certainly help with that but in the beginning, that may not be an option.

Before you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, it’s good to know what will be in store – to appreciate the various hats you may have to wear by your lonesome. Here are ones that I can think of: Continue reading “Beyond Making: Non-Creative Business Priorities, for Creative Professionals”