While it’s the norm to talk about how much money tech pays, we forget to emphasize the hours of on-screen sacrifice each techie makes. In the techpreneur series, we’re discussing the strategies, challenges, and driving force of African tech entrepreneurs.
Today’s techpreneur, Charles Adetola, a Digital Brand Marketing Consultant believes that unless you want to separate the business from its identity, Digital Marketing and Brand Management are interwoven. He also has a book on this titled “Digital Brand Marketing“.
Let’s meet Charles Adetola
My name is Charles and I am not a terrorist. I’m a Digital Brand Marketing Consultant.
You’re not a terrorist. Why did you feel the need to say that? Have you been accused of being a terrorist?
No, no, not at all. It’s something I picked up after watching this movie. He was in a foreign country and every time he introduced himself, he had to tell them he was not a terrorist.
The legendary ”My name is Khan”. Cool. So how did you get into tech? Why digital brand marketing?
If it wasn’t very unrealistic, I’d said it started from the womb. But I’d say it started immediately after secondary school. I was home, waiting for JAMB, had nothing to do. All we could do was visit the cafe with a couple of friends, buy minutes and play games. After a while, we started to question our actions. There was more to do and we wanted to do more. We started with desktop publishing, then graphics design. From there, I got interested in motion graphics animation and all that.
By the time I was in the university, I was already doing that professionally, I had my IT with a media company as a VFX editor. It was during that time that I got into the business. I knew I could create commercials for them on TV, and I wanted to know how that will go online. I wanted to know what the use of my skills will be like for this company. So it’s not just about creating the content, it’s also about how the content will affect the business itself?
So, I decided to go into digital marketing to see how we can actually leverage media content that has the capacity to create amazing graphics, animation, and motion pictures. How businesses can achieve more engagement in terms of marketing, reaching more people, getting more engagements, more awareness, and of course bottom line, more sales.
I went into digital marketing by learning search engine optimization, Google AdWords, social media advertising, and all possible strategies to position a brand online. So couple that with amazing media content, I think it’s the part of what gives me the edge.
You mentioned something about your university studies. Did you study computer science?
Not at all. I have a degree in Physics.
The more I talk to people, the more I realize that we have more techies that didn’t study Computer Science. Your title says “Digital Brand Marketer”.
I’ve seen digital marketers and Brand Managers. This is my first time hearing of your title. Could you break down the differences between them?
I’ll give a quick summary of that. To get the whole scope around this, you can refer to my book ‘Digital Brand Marketing‘. Personally, I feel digital marketing itself is very distant. If you work with a company as a Digital Marketer, I feel it means you’re just helping with marketing on the digital space without a care about the setup. Digital Brand Marketing, on the other hand, goes deeper into just the metrics. It’s all about the brand, it’s more about the positioning and how the business runs its operation and how it affects everything you’re doing online. And the effect of all that on the customer as well.
Pretty insightful. Okay. Let’s talk about your brand. BrandLocus, what do you do?
The company’s name, BrandLocus, says a lot. The brand is like the essence of the business itself – what makes it tick, what makes it work. Bringing that back to digital marketing, BrandLocus focuses on what exactly the marketing is trying to achieve that resonates with the people – because the business itself is about people. So, we work more with psychology than metrics.
The company is dedicated to helping businesses find that thing, that particular locus, in the company that gives them meaning and an edge. The unique value proposition within that company and use that to build the business. BrandLocus wants to be a hallmark of success and greatness for every company will touch. So, we help every company to identify that thing that makes them different using several methods.
We focus on both company branding and product development – both digital and physical products. We provide consultation, where we sit and plan your brand or product from the ground up.
I’m curious, how did you come up with the name Brand Locus?
So it’s evidence from physics. Just like in geo-locations, the locus is the exact centre or the core that really gives your brand its meaning.
How did you start in terms of time and resources and what strategies did you use while building the brand?
Starting came with a lot of learning. In the beginning, I was too frugal with the resources available and it burnt my hand. So, I had to learn to optimize available resources to get the desired result. It’s all about finding what works before thinking about expanding or scaling.
You love what you do, obviously.
Yes, I love what I do so much. The only thing I love more than what I do is what I do.
So if it wasn’t Digital Marketing, what would it have been?
Okay. If it’s not, it’s definitely going to be writing.
Tell me more about this book.
‘Digital Brand Marketing‘ talks about how to use digital technology to exceed customer expectations and increase sales.
What’s your driving force? What is it that keeps you going?
The ability to walk into a space and actually turn things around. Making things work. Bringing solutions and creating things that are just out of the ordinary.
You must have faced some challenges, or has it always been rosy?
Yeah, there are times when you actually have to consider giving up but when you weigh your options you find out that it’s all about what actually keeps you going what gives you that feeling of being alive or having meaning. There are times when you feel down, it could be anything. It could be a project that just decided to fail because of the resources. It could be a very annoying client that, you know, if not for ethics, you might just feel like, you know, put on all your gloves and LOL.
And there will be times when things would definitely not just be working out and you would think it’s your village people. Yeah, the jobs are not coming in and the clients you have on the ground and not in agreement with you. You’re finding it hard to convince them about what they actually need. You know, they are misplacing what they need for what they want.
Oh, then you know, some of those things will we do actually also involve a third party, like running adverts on Facebook and Google. If they decide to act up reject an ad, you have to deal with banters and there’s nothing you’re can do. It’s definitely going to cause a lot of frustration. So a lot of factors can make it really really worth contemplating quitting. But the joy you get after you finish a job makes it all worth the trouble.
You must have taken one risk or the other, right?
Well, I’m going to give you two. So the first one, the first one is the risk that almost got me homeless. It has nothing to do with my business. I was very young then and I had this opportunity to go attend a training. My mum just bought two new laptops. I kept mine and decided to sell hers because she wasn’t using it – it was still in the pack. I decided to sell it to a friend of mine and use the money to go for the training. I paid dearly for it. Business-related, I have taken some pretty interesting risks that even made me question myself.
Take me through your day as an entrepreneur
I wake up around 4:30 or 5 am and pray in my mind. Then between 6:00 and 6:30 am, I get out of bed, try to read a book while boiling my cup of coffee. By 7 am, I am already on my board trying to look at where I left off the previous night and where I’m picking it up from. Most times, I work from home. When I have to go to the office, I go around 8:30 am and leave by 6 am or 7 pm. My day involves one or more of attending meetings, consulting for people or businesses, facilitating training, running ads online, coming up with content, inspecting contents, being at a location for a particular shoot for an ad or just simply just sitting at a desk and thinking about what next. My day usually ends around 1 am on a very good day.
But regardless, I’m someone that lives in the moment. Whenever I have free time, I enjoy it to the fullest. I travel, see the waterfall, play chess, see a movie, play basketball. Anything that rocks my boat at that moment.
What’s your most recent project?
That will be Bitbuka. It’s a food delivery product.
That’s cool. So any tools we should be looking out for?
Yeah, we should be looking at products for every individual. Everybody has the right to work, the right to comfort and convenience. So we’re working on a product that combines all these; bringing work to people’s homes. You can be in your bathroom and still make a reasonable impact on people. This product is called AceMail, it’s a productivity application. and should be launched for beta testing in the first quarter of the year
Any role models in the field or outside the field?
One of my role models in my line of work will be Gary Vaynerchuk, Vusi Thembekwayo, but I do like Fela Durotoye, Ibukun Awosika. These people are great digital content creators. I hope that one day, I’ll have their clients as mine too.
If you could go back in time to when you started with all the knowledge you have now, what would you do differently?
I would have been able to accelerate faster and be more effective at what I do. I would have also learned to work with people more because working with people is a part of growth.
What advice do you have for people who want to become Digital Marketers and also Entrepreneurs in tech?
I’ll say the first thing you need to do, which is the first rule in life, is to know yourself and find out your own passion, find out what you do. Don’t just go into it because everybody is doing it or because you feel there’s something in it for you. Ask yourself if your mind is into it or if it’s something you enjoy doing or are passionate about. Find out the area you are comfortable with, be it programming, animation, graphics, UI/UX design; there is always a space for you in the digital world – even if what you do is sing. Just don’t follow the crowd.
Would you say your brand is a successful one?
Yes. Because success means to keep moving forward. Success is not really a destination but a journey. It doesn’t stop. I like to relate it with the heartbeat itself. As long as it keeps beating, you’re successful. As long as your metrics keeps growing. For my business, the metrics include the number of businesses we have helped and kept in the mind of people.
Any other message you want to pass accross?
It’s going to be similar to what Martin Luther King said: “If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But never stop moving”. For me, whatever you have as a desire or passion, don’t wait till you have it all figured out. Start. Because it is only in starting that you actually learn.