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Personal branding lessons from Bonang Matheba

Advice on how to build the brand that is you


This article forms part of the Women's Month 2015 series in which SME South Africa, throughout the month of August, will shine the spotlight on female business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.

The entertainment industry and celebrity are typically not considered to be a 'traditional business'. However, the fact that many celebrities are successfully building themselves as brands with value is undeniable. 

Bonang Matheba (28) is a local example of the power of the celebrity brand. According to Timothy Maurice, a personal branding expert and author, the power of a personal brand is that it is able to promote you and tell your story even while you are sleeping. 

Through the value of her name alone, Matheba has been able to generate consistent and meaningful revenue. 

Since she first made her mark in the television industry in the early 2000's, the television presenter, radio DJ, MC and brand ambassador, has gone on to create a name that her audiences know and respond to. She is a fan favourite having amassed almost 3 million followers on her various social media platforms. 

"Once you find that one thing that you love and that makes you unique, find someone to pay you to do it"

Matheba has also gone on to work with some of the biggest brands in the country, including retailer, Woolworths, Ciroc Vodka, and the global beauty brand, Revlon.

Six success lessons by Bonang

Speaking at one of Nedbank's Talk4Sucess - a series of country wide seminars which brings successful people from different sectors to share their stories to inspire young people and promote the culture of entrepreneurship - Matheba shared with the audience the business and life principles she works by. 

Turn passion to profit

One of the most important lessons that Matheba says she learnt, came early in her career. Her casting agent at the time advised her that it was crucial to find something unique about yourself -  something that you can bottle and sell, and that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Once you find that one thing that you love and that makes you unique, find someone to pay you to do it, she says. For her, she says, it was her love for speaking.  

Planning is key

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, says Matheba, who adds that before you could start anything you need to visualise the results.

"The most successful people in the world have planned from an early age".

In her case, Matheba says she started planning her career while still in her teens.

Know the true value of hard work

According to Matheba there is no such thing as overnight success, you have got to put in the work. 

"Hard work makes things fulfilling," she says. She adds that if you work hard for what you want, you won't need to explain yourself to anyone.  

Success is you own doing

Matheba shared that one of her core beliefs is, that the world owes you nothing, and nothing will be given to you in a silver platter.

"If you not going to prove yourself, if you not going to work hard, if you not going to prove why you are worthy, success isn’t going to come to you," she says. No one will help you if you don't help yourself, she says. 

She adds that, if you think you can’t do it then chances are you won’t do it. One of the biggest lessons that she says she has learnt throughout her career is that you need to believe that you are worth reaching your goals. 

Put what you want in writing

It was after reading the book The Secret - the self-help book written by Rhonda Byrne - that Matheba says she started writing all her goals down.  

According to the book, it's important to write down your goals as it helps you to commit to them, and to motivate you to take action. Furthermore Matheba says the process of writing down her goals not only helped to clarify them, but also also helped her to get specific about how to achieve them.

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