Three Practical Business Lessons From Wizkid ( @wizkidayo )

Just seven years after he stepped into the limelight via his 2010 viral hit, Holla At Your Boy, singer Ayo 'Wizkid' Balogun has become a fixture in Nigerian entertainment and the national standard for success in music.

Even more remarkable, in the scant space of two years, Wizkid has evolved beyond a mere local champion, achieving international relevance on the back of dream collaborations, multimillion-naira endorsement deals with beverage and telecom companies, and features in the mainstream media. His three wins at the 2016 MTV Africa Music Awards this past weekend are hardly a measure of his far-reaching influence on the continent.

Bypass envy and learn these practical business lessons from a singer who is on his way to becoming Nigeria's biggest music export since Fela Kuti:

1. Define your brand.

In 2013, Wizkid founded his music label, Starboy Entertainment. That was the first step in his eventual breakaway from Empire Mates Entertainment, the imprint that made him a star. With Wizkid's independence came more creative freedom (visible in his immediate signing of his preferred producers), a better definition of his sound (the core of his brand) and a more distinctive personality which attracted more fans.

    Pinpoint what sets your business apart from your competitors and infuse that distinction into your brand's personality and marketing. When you define your brand and live up to its definition, you strengthen emotional ties with your customers and set them on the path to becoming your evangelists.
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2. Be consistent.

Through the years, Wizkid's lyrical and sonic themes have largely remained the same: a cohesive interweave of 'rags-to-riches/dreams of the good life' verses, catchy hooks and infectious African beats firmly grounded in the Afro-pop sub-genre. Although some people may argue that such monotony is tiresome, the enduring appeal of Wizkid's music is proof that if something is not broken, there's no need to fix it. The singer has learned what his audience, from Lagos to London, can relate to and he delivers that with remarkable consistency.

    Consistency in your product or service is important. Barring a desperate need to save your business from imminent failure or some other pressing need, a sudden and extensive change to your offering will most likely have a jarring effect on your customers. For example, taking a brick-and-mortar business completely online without giving customers time to adjust at their convenience is bound to alienate them. Change, even when positive, is best made gradually.
3. Know the difference between bad publicity and good publicity.

While his musical success is beyond doubt, Wizkid has acquired an unflattering reputation for getting into altercations. His past feuds with other celebrities, particularly in the spotlight of social media, have done him no evident good and could have been avoided if his personal brand's communications were properly expressed and channeled (read: through a publicist).

    It is true that controversy has been integral to the success of several brands and some are intentionally controversial. Regardless, it is important that you manage your business' public relations responsibly to avoid a publicity nightmare. For example, you must never be less than polite to your customers regardless of how troublesome they may be. Be firm if you have to be, but never serve rudeness. Bad publicity spreads fast.
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