For an entrepreneur, social media is where you go to find your tribe, maybe establish yourself as an industry thought leader, or connect with your market. One entrepreneur who is succeeding doing all three is branding whizz, Joe Human.
The creative entrepreneur and brand identity developer, is the co-founder of Creative Mind Space, a digital agency which he founded together with business partner, Elliot Sithole, in June 2015. They offer strategy, design, product design, animation and website design services to clients like restaurant franchise, Piza e Vino, media influencer Siya Beyile and beauty and cosmetics company, Afro Amour.
Own your narrative, people buy into people
For the people
In November 2018, Human took his branding skills and knowledge to social media. Branding enthusiasts will know him from Twitter where he has amassed a modest, but passionate following of more than 4,800, within a short span of time. On the social platform Human can be found offering advice on everything ‘branding and marketing’ related as well as contributing to relevant industry discussions.
The topics covered in his Twitter threads (social media updates) range from how to build a strong brand and converting social media followers to clients, to how to choose the right logo.
He has also recently launched a podcast called Pioneers vs Pretenders on Lutcha, a digital podcasting company, which hosts a variety of podcasts online. He has interviewed the likes of Farah Fortune, founder and director of public relations company, African Star Communications, Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane, founder and managing director of urban youth marketing agency, ShowLove, and Nandi Dlepu, CEO at creative agency, Mamakashaka.
In 2015 Human was chosen as one of Fast Company’s Top 20 under 25 young inspiring South Africans. He was also a lifestyle ambassador for Bespoken Man, a gentleman grooming brand.
SME South Africa talks to the branding whizz about his start as entrepreneur, his branding philosophy and the lessons he has learned.
How did your partnership with your co-founder come about?
Elliot (Sithole) is not just a business partner but a brother to me. We met while working for the same retail company as senior designers and we just clicked. I think putting things together came from the passion we both shared to enable our brands to own our narrative visually.
Where and how did you get your start?
A lot of people don’t know this, but I used to install DStv dishes – my uncle used to employ me. Yes, I was that guy. Later on, I worked for an artist management company helping with branding and getting into the right spaces, networking before I ended up as a senior designer at a retail company.
I’ve always been known as someone who would [do] something creative. My parents got me a computer at a very young age and I would create drawings [using] paint, so there were definitely hints, but I think going into entrepreneurship was on purpose.
It’s all about asking the right questions, trying to understand why a client wants what they want
You’ve worked with brands like Piza é Vino. What’s the process like landing and working with a big brand?
They approached us through a client of ours whilst they were going through a process of re-branding, and we pitched a beautiful concept for their national website where we wanted to create an online platform that would represent what great taste, functionality and great design would look like.
I’ve learnt that with big brands and any other client, it’s all about asking the right questions, trying to understand why a client wants what they want. It will help push you into a phase of discovery and you’ll be able to solve their problem to the best of your abilities.
What lessons have you learned running your own business?
I’ve learned you’ve got to become obsessed with the process, the process is all the un-sexy things you have to do to make sure you win.
It’s about commitment, consistency and most importantly, patience. It’s less about wanting to be popular and famous and more about solving real problems.
One of the biggest challenges we’ve had – and I think all entrepreneurs have – is capital. Entrepreneurs need capital, that’s it. We overcame this challenge by starting small, starting with what we had and being true to our craft.
What is your advice for SME owners?
1. Get your branding right and be accessible, we live in a digital age and the moment you can’t be found online – for example, on social media – is the moment you lose out on opportunity.
2. Be patient with what you’re building and be patient with yourself.
3. Collaborate, the pie is bigger when you work together.
4. Own your narrative, people buy into people.
5. Lastly, be consistent and original – people can sense when something isn’t authentic. You’ll win if you are consistent and authentic.