Jessica G. Petrovic:  Women CEOs  –  Sara Novicic: Age of Boxes  –  Chris Farmer: Too Many Brands? 


Vol. I, Issue 6   –   November 2016

businesswomanFemale CEO’s: Are You Thinking About Branding?

by Jessica Gerlach Petrovic

Lately, there’s a lot of buzz floating around about the topic of women CEO’s, as there’s a rising number of female CEO’s in a high-profile market, known for its male domination. As an increasing number of women are becoming CEO’s, there are some relevant factors as to how they’ve built their careers to the position they are in. It is quite clear that women CEO’s need to put in a little extra than their male counterparts, so how they brand themselves is crucial to their success.

As females, many of us have been raised to be soft, gentle, quiet, and courteous. Being a CEO requires etiquette, of course, but also stronger characteristics, naturally, given the power position at hand. The phrase, “act like a lady,” doesn’t really apply to being a CEO. I can’t tell you how often I have heard this phrase growing up even if it was good intentioned. And furthermore, what does that even mean? I feel the message in this statement is to be quiet and ‘keep your head down’ which is not empowering at all. In the CEO world, you must own your strengths and be comfortable owning them. Being a CEO requires a high level of assertiveness and directness, in addition to negotiation skills and the courage to call the shots. These traits are typically associated with men. But that’s been evolving now, hasn’t it?

“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.” -Albert Einstein

Your personal message about who you are and what you’re about should be clear. You will also need to feel that you are just as relevant and qualified as any other male CEO; otherwise people will sense a lack of confidence. There are many ways of building your confidence if this is the road you are traveling. Some female CEO’s use hypnosis, NLP, or basic daily affirmations to remind themselves of their personal power and relevance in the world of CEO’s. Some don’t have to do this at all. Lucky you, if you’re a natural, fearless leader! Nevertheless, your personal branding is imperative to your future.

It is as equally important for you stand out. What makes you stand out? What makes you different? What do you stand for? These are the things the public wants to know and needs to see. This allows individuals to connect with you and give them the opportunity to decide if they’re “with you” or not. Chances are, when you highlight your strengths and qualities that make you, you, and reveal how they influence your brand, you’re more likely to find like-minded people who will be rooting for you, and maybe even aspiring to be like you. You want them to feel something, albeit, something authentic, within you, that they can identify with. Nobody likes to be misunderstood and being misunderstood can be detrimental to you as a personal brand. You can also avoid this by being as clear and to the point as possible. The clearer your message is, the better understanding will be of what it is that you’re about. Wordiness can confuse people, so keep it simple. If people can understand your values and how they pertain to your brand, whether that is a product, service, or other type of business, you greatly enhance your chances of success. Why? Simply by being understood.

Even your eccentricities can make you stand out, so feel free to own them too. Your communication style can be truly helpful in your personal branding. Everyone has their own uniqueness in the way in which they communicate with others, whether that is their facial expressions, body language, breathing, pauses between sentences, and such. These are also benefactors in helping you to stand out, so go ahead and own these traits as well. They’re part of what makes you, you. If you just blend in with the rest, you’ll likely be easily forgettable. Being memorable is key, so own your eccentricities. They’re yours and that’s empowering.

And the same goes for your style. Let’s face it; first impressions can be very influential, so just imagine how influential your personal style can be. The manner in which you dress can exude things like creativity, confidence, power, or potentially inspire a feeling of relatability or nurturing. These are just a few examples, although, keeping in mind the effectiveness of your personal style is necessary to your personal branding. It’s an additional reflection of how you feel about yourself and that can say a lot about what you stand for.

Katrina Campins, owner of the Campins Group (partnered with Trump International Realty), is the epitome of a well-branded successful women. She is actually the first person who revealed the importance of personal branding to me, many years back during an interview I did with her. Her personal style, belief system, and character are her brand. She is the brand. She’s been consistent with it throughout the time I’ve known her; along with her unwavering dedication to what she feels is her mission in life. So when you ‘see’ her, you don’t simply see an owner of a luxury real estate company. You see a woman, on a mission, and you know exactly what she stands for. Katrina is known for being humble, spiritual, successful, and confident.

People will also want to see you in person. Go out to events, mingle around, and network with your goals in mind. Head out with an objective for the evening. Face to face conversations can be the most influential asset of all. In a day and age where so much of our interaction is online, allow people to feel your presence, see your smile, and hear your thoughts. In other words, be present and authentic.

According to Forbes magazine, the three C’s you’ll need to be a successful CEO are credibility, competence, and caring, so these are qualities you’ll want to get across in your personal branding. If people do not know what you’re about, it diminishes your chances of creating a personal following. Who you are is always the question at hand. Let them know in every way possible what you’re about. Tell your story and be visible. Here’s to you! Now go get em’ tigress!

saranewsletterpicThe Age of Boxes

by Sara Novicic

One of many definitions of creativity states that it is “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something”. However, there is nothing definite or final about this definition, so people have shown their creativity by, for instance, using someone else’s original ideas to create something extraordinary, or they have drawn inspiration from someone else’s imagination and put it into practice.

Moreover, almost everywhere in the world, creativity is perceived as a priceless talent, and creative thinking is the golden phrase on your CV when hunting for a new job. Whether you are a teacher, a plumber, or a surgeon, there is an unspoken expectation that you will deliver results that are beyond knowledge, expertise and confidence – they must under any given circumstances be the epitome of your creative spirit.

This is where that famous phrase “thinking outside the box” comes into play. Somehow, at some point in time, everyone became terrified of boxes, as if they represented everything that could possibly limit your output of fresh ideas.
The term became incredibly popular in the 1970s, when the nine-dot puzzle was used by many consultants to convince their clients into believing that they could never be as creative as the experts in the given field, so they would hire the professionals to be creative for them.


As you have probably noticed, there is no box in the puzzle. No box whatsoever. But due to the dots’ placement on the paper, they seem to form the shape of a square, thus preventing you from solving the puzzle if you do not allow your mind to wander outside of those imaginary borders.

Such an ironically limited perception led to opening (allow me the joy of this pun) a Pandora ’s Box of abusing the term “creativity”, exaggeration as to its magical powers, and the absolute deification of those who seem to possess this extraordinary talent.

Suddenly, only a handful of lucky individuals that were blessed with the capacity to think outside of the wretched box were truly able to handle your business needs. The over-usage of the term led to the expansion of the various branches that exist to this very day, meant to boost your brand’s success and overall profit.

All of that due to nine dots and the manipulated belief that only few have the gift of creativity.

At first glance, this might seem like a legitimate conclusion, but I am happy to let you know that someone was clever enough to challenge the original research conducted by a psychologist, J. P. Guilford, which misleadingly showed that only 20% of participants were able to break free from the illusory imprisonment of the dots.

The new research showed that despite giving people clear instructions to think outside of the so-called box, there was only a 5% increase in the number of participants who were able to solve the puzzle.
Briefly put, thinking outside of any given imaginary boundaries will unfortunately not let your creativity run wild and free, and boxes are no exception.

In fact, since reality is a matter of perception, the best thing you can do for yourself and your business is to let go of the box completely, along with all other closed geometrical forms. They are most likely illusions imposed by other people’s perception, and they could never impact your creativity unless you let them, by simply adopting their point of view and acknowledging the box in the first place.

If we want to allow for a more open-minded, innovative world where the creative spirit is nurtured and not judged by the amount of money it produces, perhaps Sir Ken Robinson has already given us the perfect advice on how education can serve this purpose.

The simplicity of creative innovation is staggering – it is untamed imagination paired with persistent effort to bring something new to the world.

As John Cleese brilliantly put it, “Creativity is not a talent, it is a way of operating.”

Therefore, your brand is a direct result of your own imagination and hard work, and yes, there are creative experts out there who have dedicated their lives to this way of operating, and they enjoy all the intricacies of creative challenge, but neither are you entirely devoid of the capacity to invent, nor are they the ultimate gods of creativity.

So by all means, call in the experts to start a creative collaboration, but never take yourself out of the equation, because you are the necessary element for a fruitful process, and your creative spirit should grow and develop through exchange of ideas. No boxes necessary.



hellmansToo Many Brands?

by Chris Farmer

Everything, it seems, is a brand today.

You cannot buy toothpaste, soap, or cheese without being exposed to dozens of brands that leap out at you from the shelves. Indeed, the same brands may have already been working on your mind as you browse the social media, drive along the street, flip through a newspaper, or wait for a bus.

Brands are everywhere. We have long since left the days when only a few products were graduated into brands, when the generic was replaced with the personal and the personalized. Today, it would seem that any product or service on the market now must be a brand – or it will perish.

Yet looking carefully at these many, many brands, I ask myself: Are they all really brands? Because they have a good and memorable name and logo, does it make them a brand? Do I actually feel differently about Thomy or Hellmann’s mayonnaise?

Memory and Emotion

The reality is that I DO feel differently about the two kinds of mayonnaise. And the reason is quite simple. Although I know them both well, I associate a positive emotion with Hellmann’s and a memory with Thomy.

I associate Thomy with France. When I lived there, I bought many Thomy products. I was inclined to like and try French products, even if it is not French – it is Swiss. I remember thinking that it was probably a better choice because it was a little more expensive. And it was always more attractive than any of the other brands that surrounded it. Thomy was reliable. I remember it.

On the other hand, Hellmann’s evokes an emotional response. I know it from my childhood. I associate it with family gatherings and my grandmother’s house. I link it to summer picnics and to playing outside. If I am completely honest, I am not sure if I objectively like it more than any other mayonnaise, perhaps I cannot separate the nostalgic memory from a calculated judgment. But I am drawn to it. It is MY brand.

Moreover, it continues to exist in a realm outside my grasp. I want it more because it is not available where I live. It has an elusive feeling to it, one of rarity. Would I feel the same if it were here in Serbia? It was once and no more.

Attention Deficit

The dilemma introduced – are there really just too many brands? – is therefore a false one. What marketers know is that a shiny name and logo can increase our memory of a product, but once it transcends from the realm of a remembered commodity to an emotional trigger, only then does it become a true brand.

With the proliferation of brands and branding, we are beset on a daily basis with hundreds of branded products and services that are vying for our attention and wanting to become our personal brands. Clearly, an individual consumer can only pay attention to so much of this constant information before it starts becoming noise.

From our perspective, as branding professionals, it is important to always bear this in mind. The best brands will be loved, over time, without trying to overwhelm the consumer. All of the communication from the brand must enhance its appeal without trying too hard to win hearts. Hearts will not be won by force.

It is like falling in love – it sometimes happens fast, sometimes slowly, but almost never with someone demanding “Love me, dammit!”

Reading List


Three Tips on Building your Brand Story (eventmarketer)


Define Your Brand Personality (Jimdo)