Credit: Justine Pogroske, Founder & Creative Director, Million Dollar Branders
RECENTLY OUR FOUNDER, JUSTINE POGROSKE, FEATURED IN THE NEW YORK JOURNAL
32 YEAR OLD BRAND AMPLIFIER AND FUTURIST SAYS DIGITAL IS IMPORTANT BUT THE HEART OF BRANDING IS PEOPLE.
Justine Pogroske is a master at establishing and amplifying brands. Whether they be large older brands that are struggling with relentlessly changing market conditions or new brands desperate to make their mark in a saturated market. With a extensive ad agency background including working for global advertising giants Ogilvy and MC Saatchi, Justine started running her own business after decade in marketing and advertising for both national and international brands. It grew exponentially and evolved into Million Dollar Branders; an Australian based boutique advertising and digital agency located in Sydney’s luxurious Double Bay (www.mdbranders.com.au). She’s been making credible, original and authentic advertising campaigns ever since. Clients tell Justine she’s brilliant at using her creative flair and out of the box thinking to reinvigorate older brands and boldly position new ones in a crowded marketplace. Clients love her ability to create “A-Ha moments” with her witty tag lines, fresh approach and eye-popping visuals.
Justine showed an early love of entrepreneurship by establishing her first business, at 6 years of age, selling beauty products and second hand toys from her parent’s garage. After moving from her native South Africa as a teenager, she had to establish her own personal brand in a new high school on foreign soil. Immigrating was a difficult culture shock but proved ultimately successful as moving to Australia gave her access to the renowned Enmore Design Centre where she studied illustration. Her artistic flair and business savvy were further nurtured at the prestigious “Award School” of Australia.
Her first job as designer was either a nightmare or a dream come true as it required her to create and curate twelve (yes twelve!) magazines at once. These included generating content for an eclectic group of clients and audience such as “Cruise Passenger”, “Sommelier Australia” and “Rex Airlines” inflight magazine. Based in Sydney but with a creative director in London, she became a kind of one-woman advertising agency. This intense work environment taught Justine to be focused, driven, highly resourceful and relentlessly curious. Indeed, through sheer necessity and constant exposure, Justine taught herself graphic design. In addition, because the job required creating a physical product, she honed her expertise at generating clear and intuitive user design.
After surviving and indeed thriving in the fast-paced world of magazines, Justine was quickly snapped up by world renowned ad agency Ogilvy. Over the next three and half years she worked as a digital designer on ad campaigns for major brands like Coke, Purina, Dove, and American Express. Then Channel 10 came knocking and she designed their HD One Sports Website into a truly immersive online experience. Further online experience development was to follow with the design of Fairfax Digital’s corporate identity and the website for the online lifestyle newspaper www.dailylife.com.au. The success of this lead to a contract with the global consulting powerhouse PwC. Justine was charged with creating the user experience for an interactive and engaging extranet. The final product proved so successful that the company expanded its reach internationally by including their offices at PwC New Zealand.
As a thought leader and visionary in the multi-media space, Justine is asked to speak regularly about the state of the industry and how it can employ more human-centred design. She was recently flown to Singapore to be a panel speaker in the Asia Distribution Conference: Fuji Xerox on “Digital Branding in a fast moving world”. Justine champions placing people at the heart of technology so its no surprise she just won the pitch at Optus’ LifeSpark competition for a real estate app: My Home Exchange. Placing the human element first lead to winning a 4-month incubation and funding with Polenizer. Her highlighting of the human element within business was a core reason why she was nominated for 2016 Telstra Business Woman of the Year and why her designs for international CTRM Technology company Fendahl recently trended on Twitter at the Singapore Iron Ore week Trade Show. Her booth design gained international exposure and showed once again her theory that people strongly resonate with great people-centred design.
Justine’s vivacious personality and entrepreneurial spirit can be seen most on display when she is strategising with new clients about how to burst into a new market or when she’s on stage speaking at entrepreneur hubs like Speaker’s Institute. Her infectious enthusiasm and deep understanding of running a successful business in the “Creative Economy” means she is always in demand to deliver her keynote: “They Buy You. How to make $#it happen”. Her thought-leadership is about balancing the human with the mechanical. She realises, as a futurist, that there is a shift from simply revering Tech Unicorns to elevating the truly human qualities of business such as authenticity, rapport building, connection and relationship. By emphasising the creative and artistic in her marketing, advertising, website design and speaking means she really “gets” people. And she strongly encourages her tribe to do the same – appreciate the changes in the commercial climates of today’s fast paced digital world, and counter it by adding a human touch to all products both online and offline.
Like most highly creative people, Justine doesn’t limit herself to being creative in just one space. In addition to designing beautiful and engaging advertising she has also recently started to design beautiful lingerie. Her brand “Ms. Morales Couture” will officially launch at Orange County Fashion Week, USA with models using the glamorous Lamborghini Showroom as their catwalk. (ocfashionweek.com) Even before its official launch it has already met with wide acclaim and has been featured in Vogue Magazine. With her friend and co-founder, Pamela Yialas, Ms. Morales Couture has the lingerie exclusively designed and crafted in Colombia. The brand blends the two designers personalities to create a mix of Latin and South African spice and reflects the stylish and sassy attitude of its creators. Justine hopes to tackle consumer pain points when it comes online shopping for lingerie and swimwear. Statistics show that size and fit are two of the biggest pain points for online fashion shoppers. The lucrative lingerie business has a compelling and unique selling point, their lingerie is “one size fits all”. The lingerie is crafted from the finest lace infused with high tech fabrics and have a patented strap and clip design that can be sized to fit a woman’s body exactly by forming to their exact curves where needed. In the lingerie and swimwear industry these issues are amplified because size and fit vary between companies and depend so much on personal preference and each individual’s unique body shape. Naturally, the accompanying advertising collateral for Ms Morales Couture is making a splash on social media. (msmoralescouture.com). The brand will soon be launching in New Zealand, South Africa, Dubai and Asia.
Justine’s flourishing digital agency, Million Dollar Branders, has combined her insights and experience and uses that wisdom to establish and amplify her client’s brands. MDB offers a complete branding strategy; from bespoke websites to branding workshops, from market trend analysis to the scripting and shooting of video. Justine uses her experience and thought leadership to bring her clients cutting-edge disruptive technology to magnify their brand. A key ingredient is to crystalise a client’s message and convey that compellingly through story and video. And intimate boutique nature of the agency means Justine can move beyond the basic mechanics of brand building, and into the heart of what it means to be an authentic and magnetic brand. As she’s often heard to say about being in business today – “Digital is important, but the heart of business is people”.