Image Is Everything

Art & Design | By Nqobizitha Mlilo, Animator | 23 June 2013

We are now living in the future. A place where knowledge has increased (and continues to do so)
exponentially, where the Internet era ushered with it an abundance of knowledge, a time where so
many options are now available to the consumer.

I have grown up in Afrika all my life. I have been a part of the entertainment community for ages as a fan
of music and theater, a Hip hop personality as well as "the music video and animation guy". I have
worked on multiple music projects (a total of 40 videos) as a Music video director as well as being a
recording artist as well. I've seen projects that were pegged to make it that soon crashed and burned as
well as some that tried to deliver but fell short somehow.

After observing the Zimbabwean/Afrikan industry for years to troubleshoot what the problems are, I
managed to pin point a few short circuits that I believe are causing the entertainment stillborns.

Having American and European hits fed to us by popular music channels like MTV have left Afrikan
artists in a situation where they are unable to create something unique because they still strive to first
achieve the "international standard". Some get lost in the fake dreams that these channels peddle and
misconstrue that as reality when in actual fact, its all just marketing. True and unique Afrikan projects
are so few and far in between.

The Business
There are certain motions that entrepreneurs go through when they are starting up their projects. They
write up intricate plans, business proposals, registrations, cash flow projections and banking, marketing
and PR strategies amongst many other activities that go into making a profitable entity. Until a day
artists do these things or at the very least find someone who does, only then can there be true

Image Is Everything
We live in a world where realistically speaking, we are probably selling the same product as everyone
else. This goes for all creatives and artists. whether it be a hit song, a performance, concert, designs,
videos, adverts, paintings or whatever, the products in the respective markets are in essence very
similar and abundant. managing a good image and brand is essential in positioning a product in a space
that other products don't occupy. A case study in this would be laptops... technically the parts are all the
same but their image and branding and positioning make them personal to you and influence how you
relate to them... but they are all the same essentially.

A solution then, would be to create really strong brands and images amongst the artists. Images that are
consistent and intentional and not haphazard and accidental. Images that people can grow to expect
and bank on over time, brands that your audience can relate to and in turn subscribe to. Images that are
well thought out all the way down to language and tone and words that one brand uses and even words
or phrases that a brand NEVER uses. Once the artists achieve such intense levels of branding and
imaging... only then could we see a great future for our industry.

In closing and in an effort to dispell the doubting readers amongst you, a group of Zimbabweans set out
to test these very issues I pointed out and you will find the result of that experiment
on and hopefully this may serve as a case study and a possible blueprint.