Adebola Zoe Williams has built her personal brand as the no 1 brand storyteller in Nigeria.
She is the current manager, Brand and Storytelling at Moni, an early stage Fintech brand creating shared prosperity for Africans. Adebola sees brand storytelling as an authentic way of using narratives to build relationships with customers, catalyse growth, and build long-lasting loyalty. Her unique style of storytelling and exuberant personality, has carved a niche for her as a thought leader in the creative space, with her personal brand that impacting and connecting with thousands of creatives around the world. It was such a great delight to catch up with her and talk about actionable tips to help revamp your personal brand strategy in 2023. Let’s dive in!
Hi Adebola, nice to meet you!
Can you share with us what inspired you to become a thought leader, and what has defined your personal brand narrative so far?
Thank you for having me here. I always count it a privilege when it’s time to share my story. I didn’t set out to be a thought leader. I just wanted to share my experience, learnings and journey as I moved. Along the way, I realized that that’s what being a thought leader does. Once I realized this, I kept going. I didn’t become shy to be termed a “thought leader” cos that’s a good thing. It means the world accepts your ideologies and your expertise so much they think it’s top tier. I have been the one driving my brand narrative. The truth of who I used to be Vs who I’m becoming is the most essential driver of my brand narrative.
How would you say you’ve differentiated yourself from other thought leaders in your industry, and what is your unique value proposition?
I think my role, my personality and what I’m trying to help people achieve differentiates me from my super creative colleagues in the industry. Like I always proudly claim, I’m the No 1 Brand Storyteller in these climes. It’s not just a marketing role. It’s a mix of the most important things a brand needs to achieve growth and stay relevant. My personality too is so unique and different. I’m upbeat, excited, creative yet stern, motivated and enjoy setting processes and systems. My fun and energetic personality precedes me but there’s also the coordinated and a-little-put-together part that sometimes surprises people. My personal goals are also a differentiator. I’m not only trying to publish articles or host masterclasses. I’m trying to help creatives not only focus on the glitz and glamour. I’m helping to focus on the things that do not shine but will make their stars brighter than they ever imagined. The “uncool” side of things that yield undeniable results and speaks to one true ability.
In your opinion, what are the essential components of a successful personal brand narrative in 2023, and how has it evolved in recent years?
Self-awareness. First step. Know thyself. This is the first thing you ought to know. Own your strengths. Identify your flaws. Safeguard your uniqueness. Nurture your dreams. Flame your fire. Then Authenticity. To thyself, be true. Be true everyday. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll have some failures along the day. But still be true. Leverage on resources. There’s nothing new under the sun. People have attempted it or taken a swing at it. There are others like you. Connect. Collaborate. Truly connect. Don’t use.
How do you stay relevant and adapt to changing trends and developments in your industry while maintaining consistency in your personal brand narrative?
I’m always on the radar of the things that matter. I hate to sound like one of those big people but I read my email everyday. It’s almost always how I start my day. I check my news. The newsletters I subscribed to. What’s happening with marketing? What’s an overnight insight that could help me do my work more effectively today? I also go look for things on a regular basis. I use Google to stay relevant and updated with news. Did you know if you search “Website Content”, for example, on Google; you could tailor results to a specific year or filter the info of a particular era? You can. Did a whole video on it here.
Can you share an example of a challenge you faced while building your personal brand narrative, and how you overcame it?
I’m a lot of things and at the beginning, I didn’t know what my personal brand would focus on. I struggled with capturing all of me with the stories I curated and how I presented online. This isn’t about niching. This is about being specific things to the people you’re trying to connect with so you can be easily received. Today, I would be A. The next thing I would be B. No pattern of consistency or a trail to help others grow. Self-awareness helped me overcome this. Cos I had to look within and identify the constant values and interests. X marks the spot. Once I found it, it became easier to present. To connect even.
How do you balance the need for authenticity and vulnerability in your personal brand narrative with the need for professionalism and credibility?
Whew! This is a brilliant question. I always say that a dream job or career is one where you’re able to harness your all strengths, experiences (including the ones you never thought would matter), journey, ideas, interests and uniqueness. I wrote an article when I started getting famous as a Brand Storyteller on Medium about how a dream job can get in the way of the bigger stuff. In my current role, my professionalism and credibility got me in the door but my personal brand got me the role. It always mixes up. I think in an ideal world; these two things don’t mix. But in my world, it does. The authentic and vulnerability of my personal brand creeps into the work I do, how I think about the work I do. It makes it more than just work. It helps make it part of my life. And the professionalism of my work life creeps into my personal brand narrative too cos I sometimes work with brands and I need to be stern, result-oriented and getting work done.
How can emerging creatives leverage social media and other digital channels to build and amplify their personal brand narrative?
They already know how these channels work. The issue is overthinking, over analyzing, focusing on the wrong things, needing fast results and of course, imposter syndrome. Creatives need to start where they are and with what they have. Stop wanting to be like the faves that have put in the work right away. Your first video may not be your best video but you may never make a best video if you don’t keep making the not-so-great ones. You don’t even have to be everywhere. Pick one platform and be there. Let the people know you’re there. Connect with the right people there.
Can you share with emerging creatives how they can measure the impact of their personal brand narrative, and what metrics can be used to track their success?
Follow the numbers and the impact. I know the right thing for me to say first is follow the impact but the truth is both are important. With the numbers, track your analytics. Every piece of content published on social media or on a blog has free ways to measure how well it did. You can learn what piece of content is doing well. You can learn what kind of format works best for your content. Track the reach, number of reads, shares, etc. With impact, follow the voice. What are people saying to you in your DMs and on the streets? Measure those. Those are metrics to track as well; they are social equity.
Can you share a personal experience that helped shape your personal brand narrative and contributed to your success as a thought leader?
I have so many examples to share. I think the earliest one was when I was still on the agency side of marketing and my boss and I used to discuss how personal branding got some people into doors and got them gigs. We’d bid for accounts and people would go with the well-known or renowned agency because of the way they branded themselves and we used to talk about how important it was. And that’s when I decided to be out there. This thinking evolved to learning how to toot my own horn and tell my own story. If you don’t, who will?
Finally, what advice would you give to young creatives looking to build a consistent personal brand narrative in 2023?
Start where you are and with what you have. Also start with why. Why do you want to build a personal brand? What are the goals you’re trying to achieve? This will help you stay focus on the things that really matters to you and also help you decide where to change.
Thank you for sharing so much insightful tips with our community of creatives!