THE BRAND ARCHITECT (RED COMMUNICATION, AGOO MAGAZINE) -MICHAEL MENSA-BONSU


Please tell us about yourself.

I am Michael Mensa-Bonsu (Junior).
I’m the first child of Mr. Michael Mensa-Bonsu, popularly known as Kojo Bonsu and my mother is Ms Alexandra Totoe. I was educated here in Ghana. I attended St. Theresa’s school (North Kaneshie) and Mfantsipim School (CapeCoast), after which I had the opportunity
to pursue an IEB at St. Alban’s College in Pretoria, South Africa Having completed successfully, I attended University of South Africa to read Economics and Finance. Thereafter, I did a second degree in BCom specializing in Brand Leadership at Vega The Brand Communication
School in South Africa.

How was childhood and growing up
like? Would you say influenced your choice of career?

During my childhood I wanted to be
come an Aeronautical Engineer. I later changed my mind and decided to be a stockbroker. This informed my decision to major in Economics and Finance at the University of South Africa. After my first degree, I decided to explore the scope of other emerging trends such as Marketing and Branding which were very
popular. Though I wanted to give it a go, I was skeptical. This was because, Marketing was a subject I undertook in my second year as part of my degree but I failed and had to rewrite it. However, I decided to give it another try and I have no regrets.

Undoubtedly, the school I attended remains one of the best branding
schools in South Africa. With that being said, I wouldn’t say my childhood influenced my choice of career.

Will you have done things differently looking at the journey so far?

Not at all. Winston Churchill once said
“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it”. This is a quote I live by. Life has been so kind to me and my journey has been an experience. It has been challenging but yet still rewarding. I am actually quite grateful with what I’ve been able to achieve this far.
I have got this passion for what I am doing and I love what I do. Sir Richard Branson said “Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites us in life into capital, so that you can do more
of it and move forward with it”. I am passionate about branding and I am striving to make a living out of it.

What would you say motivates you?

Challenges I encounter are my source of motivation. I am a very competitive person, thus I never want to fail. Notwithstanding, I have realised that failure is part of the learning curve. Though I don’t want to fail,
I make a conscious effort to learn from my failures.

Can you share some of your challenges?

Though people might think I have had certain luxuries, I have faced some challenges. My parents didn’t present things to me on a silver platter but they provided me with the necessary opportunities such as good education. I lived in South Africa under supervision of my guardians, Dr. Samuel Annor and his wife. I still faced some challenges of being on my own. There were instances where I didn’t have enough money and had
to do menial jobs after school to ensure I had enough money to take care of myself.
These experiences helped me to become a better person. I didn’t always want to depend on my parents or guardian. Things were difficult at certain points and there was an incidence where our apartment
was locked down because we didn’t have enough money to pay for our rent. We had nowhere to stay and it was winter, so I had to sleep on the couch at a friend’s place. But these are things that made me a better person. I remember going to live with a couple of my friends in Johannesburg when I had my first job. I didn’t have a car so I had to commute to work by bus
or train in bad weather conditions. These challenges helped me know that there could be difficult times and you should be able to persevere.

What are some of your greatest
fears and how have you dealt with it throughout the years?

My greatest fear is failure. However,
I don’t let the fear of failure affect me.
Susan Jeffers made a striking statement in her book which says ‘’ Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway.’’

What are some of your greatest regrets?

I don’t have regrets because I believe
life is full of lessons. You need to create a path for yourself. You ought to create your own journey and as you do that, you should be able to learn from them.
I believe that our lives have already been mapped out by God. We should see the experiences and mistakes in life as lessons.

If you are given another chance, how would you do things differently?

Like I said earlier, I don’t have any regrets and if I have any shortfalls I learn from them.

What have been some of your greatest achievements?

One of the things that has stood out for me was, when one of my mentors, Thebe Ikalafeng, whom I am still in touch with, gave me an opportunity in South Africa.
He is a top thinker in the area of branding and I still have the privilege to work with him on various projects. I met him through Alfred Addo who is a friend and an artist. He was going to see Thembe for some discussions and I decided to go with him. Alfred introduced me and indicated that I was looking for a job opportunity.
After Thembe interviewed me, he realized how passionate I was and offered me an opportunity to work in a branding agency.
He gave me the opportunity and taught me everything I know about branding.
One of our greatest accomplishments
was the re-branding of Transnet which is the largest and leading company in the freight logistics chain that delivers goods across South Africa. I also worked on the
branding of The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) which is a state owned enterprise responsible for most passenger rail services in South Africa. For
other accomplishment, I returned to Ghana in 2013 and run the Ogilvy & Mather Ghana office as Strategy and Business Development Director with the Managing Director Mr Gil Kemami. The key focus was
to establish and grow the Ogilvy & Mather brand in Ghana. I was also responsible for year-on-year company growth (revenue and profit), new business creation across communication disciplines, improve client retention and business strategy. In July 2015, I got a new opportunity with Cheil Ghana as Strategy and Campaign Director After 6 months of working at Cheil Ghana, I was taken to Korea for an MD planning conference, where I was told I was going to be the new Managing Director of the Ghana office. I had
the mandate to change the Cheil model as Samsung Ghana was our client. This could have brought grave consequences but with the help of my abled team, we were able to bring on other clients to sustain the business. Within a year, we met our target of $ 1.2m of revenue.

What are some of your principles
and values?

The fear of God, discipline, respect
and hardwork.

Can you mention any books you
have read that really helped you?

One book that stands out is the autobiography of Sir Alex Ferguson. It is a book that talks about how he turned a traditional football club into a successful business enterprise as we have it today. He basically used his management skills to nurture world stars like Christiano Ronaldo, David Beckham among others. It takes a lot to manage these big stars hence I enjoyed reading the book. However, I am not a person who believes in micro-management.
For my managerial style, I believe as
individuals, we have a mind of our
own and should be able to apply our
mind. I give you an opportunity to
do what you know best. I direct you,
when I realize you are not going about things the right way, the process needs to be repeated until you get it right. I am currently reading The Afro-centric Obama: The Lessons of Political Campaigning which is another great book.

What do you do for leisure and socialization?

I love football. I’m an Arsenal fan. I
love watching football and spending
time with the family. I love traveling to other countries to learn what they are doing differently and how we can learn from them.

There has been an increase in entrepreneurship across the continent and the globe from small scale enterprises to large corporations. What are your thoughts on it?

I believe in entrepreneurship. We should give young people the opportunity to grow their brands. For instance, Korea gave a young entrepreneur an opportunity to build Samsung and everybody believed and bought into the brand.
In Ghana, we can talk of the likes of Darko Farms or Osei Kwame Despite who owns The Despite Group of Companies. These industrialists in Ghana started small and they have been able to grow their brands over the years.

Do you think it is the best way to solve some of African problems?

Yes. We need to be able to push the entrepreneurship agenda. There is a wave of entrepreneurship sweeping across the continent. In Ghana, we can talk about Sam Jonah, Dangote
in Nigeria, Patrice Motsepe of South Africa. These are entrepreneurs who have seen it all.

Given an opportunity, how can startups scale up globally?

I would encourage entrepreneurs to come up with ideas that are useful and can thrive across national
borders. You should be able to have a brand that should be able to sell anywhere. Currently, shea butter is a high demand commodity. A young lady has started a new shea
butter brand called Hamamat. Her shea butter brand is going global. It is a brand I would like to use.

Can you share as your story of Agoo magazine then and now?

Agoo Magazine then was what Instagram and Facebook are known for. Agoo magazine then was the Instagram or Facebook of the time. It was about lifestyle, people and
places. We have evolved over time. People are now interested in content; things they can read and learn from.
We still have a section for parties and functions called “In and Around Town”. We now focus on celebrating people and what they do. We do interviews on industry experts
whom the youth can learn from. For instance, we have a section called ‘’Trailblazers’’ where we interview young people making an impact. We have interviewed the likes of
Andrew Ackah, a media expert and Ebenezer Saka AddoMensah, a real estate expert. In their feature, they talked about their experiences, challenges and how they made it.
Even though it is a lifestyle magazine, it is one to learn from. Our July 2018 issue had a musical theme where
we featured the likes of Reggie Rockstone, Stonebwoy, Kwabena Kwabena, and Amaarae. It was supposed to be a blend of old school and new school musicians in Ghana.
We also have a section called Agoo Business where we interview top CEOs. In our April 2018 issue, we interviewed Vodafone CEO Yolanda Cuba. She talked about what they
Vodafone and what they were striving to achieve as a business. We also delved into her personal life beyond career among others. At Agoo Magazine, our focus now is to provide interesting,new and diverse content so our readers will always be
enthused to read.

What were some of the challenges you faced while you worked on this edition?

It was quite difficult to get all the celebrities together for the
photo-shoot. Initially, we were to have eight people on the cover, but we had to settle for four. Getting other logistics in place such as getting the right clothing, makeup artist, layout, production among others was quite a challenge but we got past it and
delivered a brilliant issue.

What advice will you give to My Story Magazine? Would you mentor My Story Magazine?

Yes. I believe there is more room in our industry to to groom young people to do more. I would advise My Story Magazine to find a niche and stand out by doing things differently to be able to thrive.

Finally, your general advice to young entrepreneurs?

I would like to urge young entrepreneurs not to limit themselves. They should challenge themselves. I believe the world is their oyster.

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