The Journey from Graphic Design to Branding: How Uche Ugo Discovered His Passion as a Branding Professional

#CreatorStories showcases the honest personal experiences of digital creators who monetize their knowledge of a skill and sell it on Selar.

We share these stories every week to inspire you to create and sell a product out of your wealth of knowledge and be a part of the digital creator economy.

This week, we turn the lights on Uche Ugo, a creative director and brand thought leader.

Let’s get to know him, shall we?

Can we meet Uche Ugo?

I am a creative director, branding thought leader, and consultant with extensive experience in visual communication, branding, design, marketing, and strategy. I am also one of the top 100 African creators by Selar, and a digital artist and art director.

Currently, I am the founder of Klasseet, a platform that connects in-demand individuals and experts by scheduling one-on-one live video classes from anywhere and at any time.

What was your career journey before becoming a branding and comms expert?

My career began as a graphic designer and event design consultant, making album covers for prominent entertainers and working with record labels.

As an event designer, I worked on notable projects such as RhythmUnplugged, Bovi ManOnFire, Iyanya Live in Concert, Symphony of Iyanya (Abuja), and Industrynite ( I did quite a lot of stuff here ).

I worked on a lot of these events that I can’t remember now, but with all of them, I was able to build a go-to personal brand as a creative while working as an Art Director in one of the top ad agencies. All of these things led to my path to becoming a branding and communication specialist.

Explain branding to us like a 5-yr old?

Branding is like wearing a blue t-shirt every day – when you deviate from that familiar image, it causes concern.

This effectively means that you have managed to live rent-free in the minds of people. As a result, it has been imprinted in their subconscious.

What’s the impact of branding on overall business objectives

Branding is important for a business to achieve its goals because it helps create a distinct identity for the company and its offerings.

A well-crafted brand image sets a business apart from the competition, earns customer loyalty and trust, and increases customer engagement, leading to a higher lifetime value for the customers.

Furthermore, a strong brand is a valuable asset that attracts and retains top talent, partners, and investors.

How can creators get started building their personal brand?

To begin with, everyone has a personal brand; all you need to do is fine-tune what has been built subconsciously over time as a creator because you’ll realise you’ve been living rent-free in people’s minds and that you have no idea ( Laughs ).

The question now is, how should I position my personal brand as a creator? What actions do I need to take? How do I establish myself as a sought-after expert? What do I want to be known for as a creator? What strategies should I adopt? What problems do I have, and how should I tackle them? 

By answering these questions, you can effectively communicate your message and what you have to offer the world as a creator. 

The key factor that must be formed as you strive to become a world-class creator is a clear grasp of your purpose. Then you can think of stuff like:

  • Defining your niche
  • Finding your own voice or style. 
  • Networking with people who are doing the same thing as you do
  • Speaking a lot about what you know or do. The more you do this, the more you live rent-free in people’s minds. 
  • Repeat number 4
  • Collaborating with other creators

A strong personal brand requires time and effort, but you can make it easier. Most importantly, be visible.

What’s a branding mistake that individuals and businesses are fond of?

Copying what you don’t understand from other people. For example, many people, including small businesses, often copy a brand colour without understanding its purpose or why the other person chose to use that colour.

You see something and copy it because you like how they use it. It doesn’t work that way. Colors are individual, which means they are different for every individual. What blue means to me is not the same as what it means to others or someone in India. Forget what Google says for a moment. These things are defined by humans, just like you and I.

So, while deciding on a colour for your own brand, consider this: what does this colour evoke in me personally? Is it in line with my purpose? What meaning can I ascribe to it? You must be intentional in all areas of your brand.

Who are the top 3 individuals with the best branding online?

Instead of best branding online, I will say individuals who have built themselves a niche in their industry and are creating content that people value.

We have several of them, but because you mentioned three in no particular order;

  1. Aproko Doctor – @aproko_doctor 
  2. Tosin of (Money Africa) 
  3. Akinyemi of ( Hightower Lawyers ) – @akinyemilaw

Creatives believe that they must have the best branding in the world before they can do anything.

But that’s not true. You don’t need to have the best branding in the world to do what you are called to do (your purpose). You do not have to wait. The more you wait, the more frustrated and perplexed you will become.

Many people’s lives are depending on what you know and how you may help them lessen their risks of making mistakes, just like these guys are doing today with what they know.

P.S. I’m not saying that branding isn’t important to you, but don’t let it stop you from being a world-class creator.

What’s the hardest part of your job as a branding professional?

One of the most prevalent challenges is conducting extensive market research on the brand you’re working on.

It may be an ad campaign or a new brand entering the Nigerian market where there is already a lot of competition.

How can you help them in navigating the terrain and position themselves correctly? This necessitates a significant amount of effort, exposure, and experience.

When did you decide to turn your knowledge about branding into income?

When I debuted my “UU SERIES,” an in-person masterclass series in 2018, each participant paid N2,500. It began as a platform that brought entrepreneurs together, but it has since grown into short-class masterclasses, customized workshops, and so on.

Here’s a photo session of participants and instructors in 2018.

What’s the average amount you’ve made as a consultant in the creator economy?

( Laughs ) Omo….This one is personal ooo

Tell us about the first time you were paid to teach people about branding.

It was a fascinating moment because when it happened, I believed it could be the start of something bigger. I saw the picture and how I want to solve people’s problems with what I know. Overall, I learned that the most important thing for a creative is to find their purpose.

What’s the relationship between having a community and branding success?

Having a supportive and active community can greatly contribute to the success of a brand in several ways.

Community members can act as brand ambassadors, providing positive word-of-mouth recommendations. They can also offer valuable feedback that helps improve your brand.

Having a community means that you have people who believe in your brand. This community can even sell your products on your behalf with little to no marketing effort on your part.

In fact, if you have a product, you can simply sell it out before it is shared with those who are not in your community.

Another aspect of having a community is that it feels like a family. For example, if you’re a fan of Adekunle Gold, chances are you’re on his email list and receive exciting letters from him.

When you read these letters, it makes you feel like family with him; it makes you feel like he’s right in front of you, speaking to you like a brother or sister. His letters make you feel closer to him. 

In summary, a well-established community can enhance the brand-customer relationship and drive long-term brand success.

What advice would you give to other branding professionals who are inspired by you?

Keep doing what you’re doing. More importantly, be more visible. Nobody would know what you have to offer if you are not visible.