i found aneta bogdan at zilelebiz, where her speech, exclusiv me, made in romania, was the highlight of the day. she spoke about authenticity and self-knowledge in the context of the personal brand. she blew my mind and stole my heart! all the participants got a copy of her book, branding on the eastern front. with an extremely articulated and eloquent oral and written discourse, aneta captivates and challenges.

although the book clearly targets a specialized audience, i guarantee that any educated person will find it worth reading. we may need some extra research but it’s a small price to pay. based on the author’s 20 years experience of marketing, communication and, more recently, branding, the book clarified many of the hidden mechanisms of our chaotic market and it described, between the lines, a potential world i’d totally inhabit.

presently, aneta is the managing partner of brandient, a romanian branding company she established together with her husband, mihai bogdan and cristian kit paul and which she leads in romania and, ever since a short while, in asia as well.

aneta starts by quoting interbrand’s definition: „brand is a mixture of tangible and intangible assets, symbolized in a trade mark, capable, if properly managed, to create and influence value”.

i read on to find out about naming, design, brand engagement (we all know about the external brand, but why is the internal brand stuck being the cinderella of the branding or re-branding budgets?), personal branding (and what that can do for celebrities, politicians or business people), positioning, etc. all entries are illustrated with case studies, explanations and references.

i got to understand why branding hasn’t (yet) convinced the local market: during the post-communist period, the market was a vacuum and a company’s simple presence on the market guaranteed fabulous sales as well as impressive growth from one year to the next. thus, given the fact that the demand far exceeded the offer, no entrepreneur could be persuaded by the necessity of a branding effort. from my point of view, as a consumer, the companies on the romanian market still like the „minimal input hoping for maximum output” idea, the investment they make being mostly into the shiny colourful screen they present to the public and less into the foundation made, among others, of their own employees, although they obviously are brand representatives in front of the exact same public. the truth is that the increasingly cynical consumer has a finely tuned bullshit radar even if many still prefer to underestimate their public.

as a romanian, i understand too well the paragraphs dedicated to those companies who don’t want a brand and i mean those ghost companies which always seem to end up winning the state tenders in romania: why would one want a place in the public consciousness when your purpose is to be easily forgotten and hard to be held liable?

with regard to the country brand, there is a short reference made to the expectedly controversial way the state found to manage the public tender: the important international brand consultancies were not among the three finalists. brandient was on the list but together with two entities which, although the task book specifically stipulated otherwise, were not specialized in branding.

in a country in short supply of role models, i’d follow aneta on the battle field. i mean the battle against the indolent and shameless local political class and against all the retrogrades defining the romanian state. in the book, i found a conclusion i had unfortunately reached myself: in romania, the state treats the entrepreneurs as delinquents – although they need to run the gauntlet, it is obviously that in the end you just cannot get it right. but aneta will not undertake this quixotic fight head-to-head: she’s busy establishing her company on the new adoptive market, the much more progressive state of singapore, which appreciates entrepreneurial spirit and innovation and it rewards them, on a background of exponential economical growth.

i recommend aneta’s book, it’s a back stage tour that leaves you wanting more. now i’m trying to get brandient 101, a book dealing with the practical case studies of the company. i promise to be back with the details!