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I have read way too many blog posts and articles that tell me to build a successful brand my website should look a certain way or that I need to do xyz. The problem is that whilst a lot of what I read does make sense and is usually the same tried and tested advice, I find that there are some things that just don’t resonate with me and when I try out said strategy sometimes it ends up feeling all wrong, not to true to me and what I do. And, that is why it is important to make things work for you, to be authentic to your vision and not just blindly follow the trends of the day.

When I was creating the brand photos for my website I was sucked into the walking down the street, and coffee shop and laptop style. I liked them because that is what I have got used to seeing across social media and so really wanted that style. The problem though is that the style and visual messaging those type of images convey have become too generic, and do nothing for my brand. I mean what does sitting in a coffee shop tell you about what matters to me, not much! So I wasted precious time trying to create this types of images, before accepting that for my brand to stand out and be authentic I needed to have visuals that actually tell the story of what my brand is about. I am not saying what I have is ground-breaking, but what it does is reflect me, my values and what I do and that is what matters. 

The same goes with creating an earlier version of my website. I went for what was considered popular, over what works for me, and it was all wrong. So after ages trying to figure out the template and WordPress (at the time it was my first time using it) a few short months later, I changed it to something the ‘experts’ said I shouldn’t have if I wanted to capture my readers’ attention. My website has since evolved and you know what I am so much happier with it as it reflects everything I do clearly. 

Not discrediting anyone’s advice, but I had to accept that not everything that is recommended will work for my situation. And as you are reading this not everything I write and reflect on in my blog will work for you and that is fine.

There is a lot of information and advice out there some more respectable than others, which can make it difficult to work out what to do. And, is one of the reasons why so many never get started on their entrepreneurial journey. It becomes hard to start, we get so overwhelmed and caught up in thinking we will do it wrong and not wanting to be different. But different if done right is good. It makes you be authentic. The key is to take the information and tweak it to suit your particular vision. 

we… get caught up in thinking we will do it wrong and not wanting to be different. But different if done right is good – Tapiwa Matsinde, Atelier Fifty Five

That is why it is so important to have a brand strategy, do your market research, and especially to know your audience. They are coming to you because you are offering them something they can’t find elsewhere. If you are blogger it could be your writing style and tone of voice that appeals, for a photographer your signature image style.

So do not be afraid to change what makes you and your brand you. Don’t be afraid to be authentic and do what feels right. Doing this can and will lose you some of your audience, but if this happens they were most likely not your true audience in the first place. And in their place, you will gain those who are drawn to your authenticity.

Do you find yourself following the crowd and getting sucked into trends that are not necessarily right for your brand, or are you staying true to yourself? Would love to know in the comments.

Tapiwa

[Image credit: The image shown belongs to Tapiwa Matsinde/Atelier Fifty Five. If downloaded and used elsewhere please credit accordingly.]

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  • This popular Africanisim beautifully illustrates the pioneering spirit of togethernes. It highlights how working and collaborating with others can propel you to new heights. Building a business rarely happens in isolation. Atelier Fifty Five seeks to to shine the light on African brands, and this includes extending a hand by sharing our knowledge and expertise to help African brands become the best they can be. So let us go together. Sign up to the Atelier Fifty Five Academy mailing list and join a community of ambitious creative business owners dedicated to creating brands that make their audiences sit up and take notice.⁣
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  • Preserving traditional skills the Kayla cushion by Frida 54 highlights the art of Tritik, a process of knotting and sewing that results in a variety of symmetric patterns. Handwoven with 100% cotton from the cotton mills of northern Cameroon the textiles are dyed with handmade dyes using ancestral techniques. [📷 credit: @frida_54 ]
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  • Eight years ago I started a blog as a place to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa. From the moment I created my first blog post little did I know where the journey would take me. Fast-forward to present day I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry, but to also have an active role in creating awareness about it.

On this journey, I have seen Africa’s design industry grow from a handful of names from a handful countries to a continent wide-reach. Some names that were just starting out have become internationally respected leaders in their field, whilst behind them, a new generation of names are coming up and claiming their place in the industry.

To say that it is an exciting time for African design and creativity would be a gross understatement! We are in a time of rapid advancement and unbridled creative expression, that is setting the foundations and standards for future generations to build on. And like many other emerging industries in Africa, creativity is opening up opportunities to those who are willing to seize them. And seizing them designers are!

And as Atelier Fifty Five begins a new chapter it is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to supporting the development of the African design industry and helping those I work with and write about, and work with to fulfill their potential for creating world-class brands. 
I invite you to visit our website to discover more. [Link in bio]

Tapiwa, Founder Atelier Fifty Five
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