In conversationLiterary Circle

Africans are Yet to Embrace the Value of Brand Building – In Conversation with Feyi Olubodun

Feyi Olubodun
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Last Monday, our #SyncityNGLLL guest was a seasoned business executive, inspiring speaker, presenter and facilitator. Feyi Olubodun (@feyiolubodun) has facilitated several training sessions with AAAN and MBA students of Lagos Business School. In 2016, he was appointed the MD/CEO of @InsightPublicis Nigeria. He is the author of The Villager: How Africans Consume brands.

As usual, here is the transcript from the latest in our engaging Tweet chat series hosted by the Chief Synner.


Feyi, I read your book and I must say that it is indeed rich. You have come so far in the industry. At what point did you decide that ‘agency life’ was your calling?

Well, I fell in love with brand building on the agency side and decided this was exciting enough to keep me engaged. I get bored easily, so I always need to work in an exciting world and the agency life gave me that.

I’m extremely curious as to how old you are to have achieved a lot. Your bio is so lengthy that it had me spinning. Do you think youth is a crucial factor to understanding the African consumer market bearing in mind that we have a mostly young pop?

I think having a youthful orientation is valuable, but the most important factor is having a curious and open mind. That way you can see things as they are, not as you want them to be. I am an extremely curious person and very exploratory in nature.

What would you say inspired this book? Because, if we are being frank, successful business executives never really ‘tell-all’. They just give God the glory and sell their glory books for 25k. What inspired ‘The Villager’ and its honest account?


The book was inspired by the need to have African stories told by Africans. I wanted us to be proud of who we are and not try to be Westerners. Who we are is very useful on the journey to where we need to be. We are a storytelling people, so I told stories.

As one who is as well travelled as you are, how would you say our creative agencies rate when compared with those of the West?

I believe that we can compete with the Western agencies any day, any time. But we admire them too much and belittle ourselves just as much. It’s sad really, the length to which we go to copy Westwrn creativity is depressing.

What happens in a situation where a client wants one thing and the team creates another? As someone who has worked in an agency, this happens so many times. How do you use your position to bring calm?

This reality never goes away. You just have to keep everyone focused on the goal, which is to get the consumers to buy the product. Period. That gets everyone focused easily.

Let’s talk about your book and the writing process for a bit. Care to take us through the time line of conception to print? Also, how important is it for (successful) individuals to chronicle their stories?

It took about a year to actually write the book, although, I’ve been speaking on the topic for years. About your second question, we just need to articulate what we know and then share those things to the world.

1. If you didn’t end up in your current place of work, what wld have been your profession?You mentioned medical school in the book.
2. How lucrative is what you do?
3. Do you approach brands, or do they approach you?

1. I would have been in retail or anything that sells to consumers. I’m excited by consumer behaviour.
2. It can be, but the margins are very tough to achieve.
3. It’s both ways. Sometimes they come, sometimes we go out looking for them passionately.

@FabiolaNguembu: In your book, you mentioned that culture is important. I want to know what exactly you mean by culture? And how to observe the link between the culture of people and the sector/market which interests us ?

Culture is basically how people behave, what their values are. If you want to understand how to relate that to your market, we have a tool that helps you do that. Feel free to reach out.

@FabiolaNguembu: Please another question, Feyi, I observed that in Africa, especially francophone markets, local brands have difficulties investing in the building of the brands. They more or less look like sellers. How can we handle it as people who work in agency?

This is because Africans are yet to embrace the value of brand building as a way of creating business value. But we must. That’s how the multinationals go to this level.

How do we purchase your book, Feyi?

You can get it almost everywhere now. On Amazon, in bookstores in Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, etc. Check @OuidaBooks and @Rovingheights.

One last word of encouragement before we call it a day.

I like the words of Rumi, “Don’t believe what others have told you it must be like. Unfold your own myth…” Follow your own dreams guys!


We had an amazing time with Feyi Olubodun. The insights he shared here are just a tip of the iceberg, and so much more can be found in his book aptly titled ‘The Villager: How Africans Consume brands’. Purchase a copy from @OuidaBooks and @Rovingheights. Next Monday, we’ll be back in conversation with another notable African author. You know we always bring the best!


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