Justine Pogroske : Powerful Branding Solutions

There are companies and then there are brands. A powerful brand is not only distinct and stands out from the competition due to its product/service but also due to the values it stands for, no matter what. Having a clear identity and purpose helps brands to effectively connect with consumers on an emotional level. 

To create this emotional connection, brands will need to focus on creating a positive customer experience. This means providing high-quality products and services that meet customer needs and expectations. Also, be accessible and convenient, making it easy for consumers to purchase their products and services. 

As the world becomes increasingly digitized, the way consumers interact with brands will also change. To stay relevant, brands need to be agile and adaptive, able to quickly respond to changes in the marketplace. They will also need to have a strong online presence, utilizing social media and other digital channels to reach their target audience. Building “raving fans” and community will stand brands in good stead and brands can now create a loyal following effortlessly with the use of digital media. Furthermore, brands will need to focus on creating an engaging and personalized experience for consumers and Justine Pogroske at Million Dollar Branders helps them in this journey.

Finding her Entrepreneurial Gene

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Justine had her first brush with business at the age of 6 when she sold used toys. As a child, she was fascinated by the idea of starting her own business and always knew she would eventually be her own boss. So, when the time came to choose a career, there was really only one option for her: entrepreneurship.

At age 11, her family migrated to Sydney, Australia. After school, she fell in love with the advertising industry. “I think it was the creativity that first drew me in – the way that a good advert can tell a story, evoke an emotion, and sell a product all at the same time. I also loved the challenge of it; trying to come up with an idea that is both original and effective,” recalls Justine.

After receiving her diploma in graphic design she started her career at one of the most renowned agencies in the world called Ogilvy and Mather(not without putting some serious campaigning skills on display until the creative director finally got her on board). The advertising industry turned out to be an incredible fit for her as she had always excelled at art and had always been good at public speaking. “I think that the advertising industry was a perfect mix of both of those talents. I have always loved coming up with creative ways to sell products, and been great at telling people about those products,” shares Justine.

Over the years she worked for leading agencies, M&C Saatchi, Optus, PwC, and more. At 24, she saw a gap in the market for an agency with the mindset of a “large agency” but the thoughtfulness of a boutique agency. That’s when her company, Million Dollar Branders was born. Justine says, “I wanted our number one focus to be on “expensifying brands” and building on “brand experiences”. Million Dollar Branders(MDB) is a boutique agency whose focus is on building brand empires and legacies for the experience age. We aim to deliver timeless branding solutions anchored in result-driven formulas. Today our client base ranges from Fortune 500 companies, Global thought leaders and celebrities, Nascar to Silicon Valley movers and shakers.”

Creating Unique Value

There are a few things that make Million Dollar Branders a leading brand agency. First, they have unrivaled industry experience building legacy brands. The team is comprised of experienced professionals who have a deep understanding of branding and marketing. Second, they’re always on the cutting edge of the latest industry trends – constantly exploring new ways to reach consumers and stay ahead of the competition. And third, they’re not afraid to take risks. They believe that to achieve something great, sometimes you have to think outside the box. 

The company believes that a great brand is more than just a pretty logo. It’s the sum of all the experiences a customer has with the company, from their first impression to their ongoing interactions. That’s why they take a 360-degree approach to branding (MDB calls this The Bankable Brand Alignment Method], developing strategies that cover everything from corporate identity, to digital presence: website, digital marketing, and social media. They’re also experts in brand positioning and messaging, so can help brands stand out from the crowd and connect with your target audience. In short, they know what it takes to build a strong, sustainable brand. 

Qualities that make a leader

As per Justine, a leader must be many things: confident, decisive, and level-headed. They must be able to take charge in a crisis and rally others to their cause. They must possess the strength of character to make tough choices, even when the path ahead is uncertain. And they must have the vision to see what is possible, even when others cannot. These are the three most important qualities a leader must possess. With them, anything is possible. Without them, even the simplest tasks become insurmountable. Most importantly a leader should be heart-centered and lead by example. 

Being decisive and rationale is crucial for leaders. But human as they are, there are moments when they might feel stuck. At times like these, Justine usually takes a deep breath and reminds herself that it is okay to not know everything. “I try to remember that everyone feels stuck or confused at times, even the people who seem to have it all together. Once I have given myself a little pep talk, I start brainstorming possible solutions. I try to think of all the different ways I could approach the problem. Sometimes, just taking a few minutes to brainstorm gives me the clarity I need to move forward. Other times, I like to do a little more research or ask for help from someone who has been there and done that and is well versed in that area or topic. I am very lucky to be connected with some incredible thought leaders. Most importantly I am kind to myself in the way I speak to myself as I know that I need to back myself to get through the situation. If you don’t believe in yourself then who will, period. I believe if you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it,” says Justine.

The preferred style of management

As a business leader, Justine believes that there are pros and cons to micromanaging. On the one hand, micromanaging can ensure that every aspect of the business is running smoothly. However, it can also be time-consuming and stressful, and it can prevent employees from taking initiative and being creative. Justine believes in empowering her employees to excel by giving them enough responsibility and resources to feel fulfilled and proud of their achievements and who they are becoming. She believes that as a business leader, one should set expectations and provide guidance, but one should also allow their team members to take ownership of their work and make decisions for themselves. “This approach has helped me to ensure that the business is running smoothly while also freeing up time to focus on other important tasks and goals,” she shares.

To the Budding Entrepreneurs:

Justine feels there’s no easy answer when it comes to the question of what advice to give young entrepreneurs. There are so many factors to consider and every situation is unique. So here’s what she has to say.

However, if I had to narrow it down, I would say that the most important thing is to be passionate about what you’re doing. If you’re not passionate about your business, it will be very difficult to succeed. You have to be willing to put in the hard work and dedication necessary to make your business a success. Additionally, you need to be able to take risks and accept failure as a possibility. Without taking risks, you’ll never achieve great things. 

As a young entrepreneur, you have a lot to learn. But don’t worry, that’s what entrepreneurship is all about – learning through experience. Always be learning. Be curious and read everything you can get your hands on – books, articles, blogs, whatever. And don’t just read about business – broaden your horizons and learn about history, psychology, science, art, anything that interests you. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with the challenges of entrepreneurship. 

Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is part of the process and it’s how we learn and grow. What matters is how you handle failure – do you let it defeat you or do you use it as motivation to succeed? Finally, always remember that attitude is everything. Entrepreneurship is tough and there will be days when you want to give up. It’s during those times that your positive attitude will make all the difference. Follow your dreams, work hard, and never give up, keep your head up, stay focused on your goals, and never give up. If you do those things, you’ll be well on your way to success.

I love the line from the poem Invictus “ I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”. I keep this quote on my desk. As an entrepreneur, you will always be in control of your fate and your destiny.

Preparing for the New Normal

It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has turned the tables for every sector of the economy. With industries like hospitality and retail being hit the hardest, many companies have had to pivot to stay afloat. However, the IT sector has been one of the few to not only weather the storm but actually thrive in these uncertain times.

This is likely because, more than ever, people are relying on technology to stay connected and productive. As a result, there is a growing demand for innovative and reliable tech, creativity and software solutions. 

 So where does Justine see MDB in the years to come? She envisions the company as being at the forefront of this industry, providing cutting-edge solutions that help its clients stay ahead of the curve. To sustain this position, the team will continue to invest in research and development, and tech skills ensuring that they are always at the forefront of innovation.

 “Looking ahead, we see a bright future for our company. We plan to continue releasing cutting-edge services and products that meet the needs of our customers. We will also focus on building strong relationships with our clients, as we help them to future-proof their brands and pivot into the meta-verse terrain. We aim to help legacy-minded entrepreneurs cement their brands into the future of tech. With these strategies in place, coupled with our well-trained team of experts, we are confident that we can maintain our position as a leading brand and digital agency in the years to come,” concludes Justine.