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Branding Queens: Women Who Redefined Marketing | Kim Rozdeba


David McBee: Hello and welcome to TV, the web series and podcast for agencies, brands, marketers, and media buyers. I'm David McBee. Our guest today is Kim Rozdeba, author, blogger, and branding guru. Kim has over three decades of strategic planning, branding, executing multimillion dollar advertising and marketing campaigns, PR and corporate communications in the agriculture, pharmaceutical, petroleum, airline, telecommunication, and automotive industries. His work has guided some of the Fortune 500's oldest and most iconic brands. He recently published his first book, Branding Queens, which is about 20 incredible women who built global brand dynasties. Kim, welcome to TV. Kim Rozdeba: Thank you very much, David. David McBee: I'm so glad you're here. And I want to talk all about your book, but first, because you were at an agency for so long, I'd like to ask, what do you know now that you wish you had known when you worked for an advertising agency? Kim Rozdeba: I mean, it's always hindsight, right? It's always easier to look back and go, "Gosh, I wish I knew that." The thing I think I really did want to know was what was a brand? There's lots of different descriptions and definitions of what a brand is. I kind of thought it was marketing. As long as you were doing really good marketing and your logo was the right size and the right color, you were doing a great job. But I have now been able to define what a brand is, and I'll share with you, if you like, my definition. David McBee: Of course, go for it. Kim Rozdeba: A brand isn't about what it says or does, but how it makes its customer feel. And you hear so many inputs. It's the attributes, it's the benefits, it's a promise. Yeah, it's all of those things. But at the end of the day, I don't own it. The customer owns it. Now I can influence it, absolutely. That's what branding's all about. Branding's all about making sure all those touchpoints with the customer is getting my message across or my impression across, but at the end of the day, they own it. And I did not understand that when I was starting in the agency world. David McBee: So for example, if I could just take a shot here in the dark, the brand Starbucks, in my opinion, reeks of trendiness and cool moms and teen girls, and they've kind of embraced and owned that and made that brand what it is. Am I on the right track? Kim Rozdeba: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think they kind of tried to take European coffee sophistication and bring it into North America where we had the mom-and-pop cafe and tried to bring Europe to North America. David McBee: And I don't really think Europe when I think of Starbucks. And maybe that's because I have a teenage daughter who is constantly using my Starbucks app and I'm like, "How much did you spend?" But at the same time, I think that's true for a lot of different brands. They intend to be one thing. And then, like you said, the audience, the people who consume the product or service, they make it what it is. Can you think of another example? Kim Rozdeba: You see evolution of brands too. McDonald's. McDonald's started off as a burger place. It was not necessarily a kid's place. And then when you start, Ronald McDonald came into the picture, he didn't come into the picture at the beginning. They started seeing a marketplace that, again, is one of the biggest parts of the franchise. I was talking to somebody just today, saying, "How did my three-year-old know about their french fries?" And she's the one that got the family into McDonald's. My kids, same thing. When my kids were young, I never went to a McDonald's. They were the ones that said, "Dad, let's go to McDonald's." I'm going, "Why?" And there was a number of, every weekend, Saturday, I'd be going to Ronald McDonald's, taking them for breakfast and giving my wife some nice peace and quiet in the morning. David McBee: Yeah, the Happy Meals, one of the most iconic products ever marketed towards children, right? Kim Rozdeba: Yeah. David McBee: All right, well, let's shift gears a little bit. I want to talk about your book. What is the inspiration behind writing Branding Queens and what motivated you to explore the stories of women in branding? Kim Rozdeba: So do you know Veuve Clicquot, the champagne? David McBee: I do not. Kim Rozdeba: It's one of the top champagnes coming out of France. David McBee: Well, I'm not a drinker, so I guess I get a pass on that. Kim Rozdeba: Okay, no problem. But Veuve, do you know French? So Veuve in French translated into English means widow. So the brand on this, I mean, you buy a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, it's about a hundred dollars, it's not a cheap bottle of champagne, has widow on it. I didn't know that either. Well, now somebody told me that Veuve meant widow, I'm going, "Why would you put widow on a brand?" I didn't know as well that the brand actually was run by a woman back in 1810. That started me doing, "Hey, who is this woman? And why did she name the brand widow? Was it because she was looking for sympathy? Was there a legal requirement in France at the time, in 1810? Napoleon Bonaparte was raging wars all over the world." That started my quest to see where did this come from. And then my evolution of that was, are there other women out there that also created brands that I was not aware of? Now, some actually I was, when I started doing my research, but there were other ones that I did not know. BISSELL. BISSELL vacuum cleaners, started with her husband. He passed away. Again, same with Veuve Clicquot. But they ran these incredible businesses and made them international. So anyways, I went down, was it a book? I've never written a book before. So I didn't know I was writing a book for a while. I have a blog and I thought, "Oh, this'll be an interesting blog and then I'll go series of blogs." And then it got away from me and I go, "No, I guess it's a book." David McBee: Oh my gosh, this blog got away from me. I have to publish it. It's a book. I like that. All right, so what are some of the key takeaways or some of the lessons from the women you profiled that marketers can use today? Kim Rozdeba: What was amazing, particularly in the brands that were going back into early 1900s, and in many of these cases they were caring brands. This is a term that, again, back then, actually more recently, it's a new term in branding, about caring brands. They were doing this. They were doing this partly because they understood their customer because they were their customer. In a lot of cases they were trying to solve problems for themselves, that they saw a marketplace that they could help other women. So it was about help as opposed to I can market something and make a whole bunch of money. So it started with a really important commitment and a purpose. When you hear about purpose-driven brands, a lot of cases of these women, they were purpose-driven brands. The other interesting thing that I saw was they came into this, they knew very little of what they were doing, and in a lot of cases they go, this probably was an advantage to them because they didn't come in with a preconceived idea of who their customer was and what they should be doing. So they learned. And how did they learn? They learned by selling their products one customer at a time and listening to their customers and adapting and learning, and they had to learn a whole bunch of things. When you think of building an empire and you start from ground zero, you have to learn a lot. David McBee: Were there any really unexpected stories that just popped up that are top of mind? Kim Rozdeba: The one that I think is really interesting, because it was actually Beech Aircraft. So Olive Ann Beech doesn't even fly a plane. She didn't know how to fly a plane. Her husband was a pilot and they started. She was the accountant. When she was a young kid, she could do math in her head, no problem. So she ran the back of the business and he ran the front of the business. He was passionate about flying. Unfortunately, he passed away. Now, in a lot of these cases, you could sell the business. Unfortunately, there was no kids. In a lot of cases of these situations, there were no kids to take it on or they were too young. So she continued to take the business. Now she could just take the business and just run it how it was, but she didn't. She actually built this business into an international business. So he started it, but she continued to build on this business, which is amazing. But again, she did not know the product. I mean, she knew the product because of what they built, but understanding their customer, and she actually had to learn that over time as well. But she was exceptional in selling and also in making sure that her customers were extremely happy as well. So she was different in the sense of a lot of other cases were selling their products to other women. Her product was not being sold to other women. It was mostly to men. David McBee: All right, well, this is the part of the podcast where I normally ask folks if they have a favorite book that they feel they want to promote. Do you just want to talk a little bit more about where people can find your book? Or do you have a favorite that has been instrumental in your success? Kim Rozdeba: Well, I mean, Ogilvy on Advertising, that's one of my favorites. I actually worked for Ogilvy. I worked for Ogilvy for 10 years. So there's a connection not only to David Ogilvy. I'd seen some of his writings within the organization. He was actually still alive. So now I'm dating myself. But I never actually met him. He was in his castle at the time, so he was still kind of working. He'd pop in and pop out. So there's a sentimental, but it's also a book that is still of value today. And of course, there's my book, Branding Queens. David McBee: All right, so what is the best way for viewers to learn more about you? Kim Rozdeba: They can either visit my site, which is,, or they can connect with me on LinkedIn, and I would just search Rozdeba, you'll find me. David McBee: Something tells me there's not a ton of Rozdebas out there. Kim Rozdeba: There is not. David McBee: Well, Kim, thank you so much for being my guest on TV. Kim Rozdeba: Thank you, David. I've really enjoyed this. David McBee: And thank you, guys, for watching. TV is sponsored by, helping you to maximize relevance and multiply results with our industry leading media buying and workflow solutions. For more information, visit Thanks for joining us today. I'm David McBee. Be awesome, and we'll see you next time.

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