Marketing in the digital age is a combination of art and science, savvy and intuition, foresight and research, and more than a little bit of natural ability. For Justine Pogroske, Founder of creative agency Million Dollar Branders, digital marketing excellence isn’t just an everyday task; it is a way of life and demonstrates to her clients’ time and time again for million-dollar success and legacy.
Recognized by the Telstra Business Awards as a top emerging and energized business in Sydney, Australia, in addition to being named a “million-dollar brander” by multiple Fortune 500 companies, Pogroske’s firm just recently turned 10 years old but has the portfolio of an agency twice that age would envy and admire. Her upcoming book, “THE BANKABLE BRAND: HOW TO BUILD BRAND EMPIRES FOR THE EXPERIENCE AGE,” will be released by the end of this year.
Looking beyond the immediate need for digital marketing and branding, Pogroske and her team also maintain a vast and varied presence on social media, offering robust experiences via Clubhouse in the Million Dollar Brander’s Club in collaboration with business partner Rene Godefroy, a globally recognized speaker, and influencer, in addition to a podcast available on Spotify, ITUNES, The Million Dollar Branders Podcast where she interviews key thought leaders, top tier industry leaders, movers, shakers, and clients on how they have built their million-dollar brands, along with a suite of online courses designed to empower individuals to unlock the value in their own million-dollar brands. Pogroske’s keynote, “The Lamborghini Effect,” gives audiences a glimpse inside the branding genius and strategies Pogroske implements to drive success and ROI for agency clients.
Justine, tell us a bit about Million Dollar Branders.
Million Dollar Branders is a leading creative brand and strategic advertising agency. We build brand empires for the “experience age”. The experience age is an age filled with snapping, swiping, tapping, and immersive technology where customers and users expect an experience. It takes 0.05 seconds for them to form an opinion about your company’s brand, product, services, and online experience. I called my agency Million Dollar Branders because we are a results-obsessed company that has spent the last decade building hundreds of brands into million-dollar empires globally. It was founded on the premise that every brand deserves to be a million-dollar brand and impact the world uniquely. To leave a legacy that stands the test of time. We offer turnkey brand solutions for legacy-minded business owners and entrepreneurs. As we venture into new meta-verse terrain, it is imperative that brands are equipped with the intellectual equity to get attention fast amongst a sea of brand competition online and offline. We get you noticed in a fast-moving world. We know that trends, cultural shifts, and consumer behaviors are rapidly evolving, and we make sure you are prepared for this. Innovation, creativity, and the uprising of technology are growing faster than ever. At MDB, we use proven formulas to transform our clients into thought leaders and dominators of their space.
Why is it important for a company to brand itself in 2022?
Branding is here to stay. Some people would say it is a “luxury”; however, whether you are a business owner, thought leader, entrepreneur, or an employee cultivating a brand has become more important than ever. Things are rapidly changing, especially in terms of technology. Technology is getting faster and smarter. Your brand is an equity piece that will put you on the map and have growing value as technology evolves. If you are developing a personal brand, you will add value to your person/avatar, especially as we enter this new terrain called the meta-verse. If you do not have a show-stopping brand presence that has an x-factor and demands attention, you will be left behind and risk becoming obsolete. This new branding era will require you to be thoughtful and impactful. You will need to create an experience and empathize with how your customers/users feel and think of every touchpoint. It will require you to zig when other people zag and think beyond the norm.
On another note, effective personal branding will differentiate you from the competition and allow you to build trust with prospective clients and employers. It is everything that makes you who you are, and it will showcase how you are different from others in the field. We are living in the “Content Creators Age”. Never has it been so easy to become an influencer from the comfort of your iPhone or digital device. Building a brand is an important concept for a business, and it is just as important for an individual. A powerful brand executed in the right way will automatically place you as an influencer and thought leader in your field. These days, you need to make it easy for people to learn all about you with a simple search or click. They want to know what makes you tick, what makes you different, and how they can connect with you and your story. It is common for people to want to “meet” you online before they “meet you in person. “It’s your job to give them that. Authenticity is king, and in 2022 and beyond, if you don’t brand yourself, you will undoubtedly risk becoming obsolete.
If a person has a company but is struggling to find a brand to sell to customers, what is your advice?
Every asset of your company is a brand, including you. We live in an age where customers expect much more than to walk into a 3d space/shop and buy a brand; customers expect and want to buy an “experience”. You need to think “like there is no box,” put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and flip the switch. What solution are you solving for them? A brand is a result of a problem that is being solved. Not just your problem, their problem. It is an iconic symbol of a visual currency that commands attention and creates a raving following and, in some cases, a die-hard community. Ask yourself – if you were your customer, what would you expect/want/deeply desire? Then test, test, test. You cannot sell a brand that you do not resonate with yourself. The brand/product/service you sell should be something you are proud to pass on because you know its value.
Justine, you have a very interesting story. You relocated from South Africa to Australia at a very young age. Can you share this story with us?
I was born in Johannesburg, where I had an amazing childhood. South Africa still occupies such a big piece of my heart. I lived a very happy life with my father, mother, older sister, and younger brother until eleven years old. It was a Saturday night, and I had driven with my father and brother to the local video store to pick out a movie. My mother was alone in the house. Nine men with machine guns shot the power line and broke into the house. My mother hid in the bathtub to prevent herself from being shot dead. My father, brother, and I drove into the driveway straight into the middle of a shoot-out. After making it out alive, the next day, my mother decided we were going to move to Australia. Four weeks later, we packed our life up into a forty-foot container – said goodbye to everything we knew and were familiar with, and immigrated to Sydney, Australia. This experience taught me at a very young age how valuable life really is and how just in a fleeting moment, destiny can change your path. I never take for granted the simple things in life like loving human connections, and even the challenges and obstacles that are put in your path have teachings and lessons to make you better.
How did moving from South Africa to Australia influence your career?
It influenced my career because I had a job from the age of twelve years and nine months. I went to school during the week and worked on Saturday and Sunday in my part-time job (at a doughnut shop) from 7-5 pm. I used my money to pay for things I did not want to trouble my parents. We were newly immigrating to a country where the exchange rate was R5 to $1AUD proved challenging for all of us. My father had to requalify as an accountant and re-build with kids half his age. I felt proud of myself that I could take responsibility and look after myself from a young age. I have a relentless drive as a result of my immigration and journey. If I can’t do something, I will die trying. It taught me mindset, hustle, determination, responsibility, value, and respect for money but most importantly, it taught me the work ethic and customer service. I always had a job or worked on something entrepreneurial. I have always invested in myself and my intellectual growth. My move influenced me to be a go-getter and go for what I wanted in life without being fearful. I learned from a young age that with hard work, tunnel vision, tenacity, drive, and discipline, I could do anything and achieve anything I put my mind to. It made me believe that out of every adversity is born advantage – so I never gave up on building. As a result, I know that no matter how hard I am knocked back, I will always get stronger, better, and smarter because my belief in myself is strong. I know that I am limitless potential. Sometimes God and the Universe will test us on how badly we want something in life. My journey influenced my career in incredible ways. Out of my trials, my greatest tribulations and achievements have been born.
Can you tell us about some of the major companies you have worked with over the years?
I have worked with Global Companies such as Australian Television Network Ten, Ogilvy, M&C Saatchi, PwC, Wundermun, Y&R, Optus, Canon, The Australian Navy, clients including Coca Cola, Serendipity Ice Cream, Nestle, Range Rover, Alacran Tequila as well as global personalities, celebrities and thought leaders. Our Agency is currently working on an extremely exciting Fashion-tech project called “FEMALE MADE” that I cannot wait to share – it is changing fashion’s future for females and how they purchase tailored suits both offline and online. It will be a combination of phygital – A digital experience fused with a physical one. Think a digital virtual store, virtual tailors, virtual fashion shows, and exclusive events connected with a FEMALE MADE Exclusive NFT drop. Definitely Stay tuned.
Is there a specific type of company you enjoy working with?
I enjoy working with legacy-minded companies and entrepreneurs, especially directors, global change-makers, and thought leaders who want to change the world on a greater level and create empires that impact millions of lives. I believe a well-crafted brand has the power to change lives, impact communities, build enormous wealth and build legacies that will go down in history.
What is an important factor company must consider these days when it comes to branding?
I think an important factor when building million-dollar brand equity is perseverance. The brand cycle is a never-ending process that businesses go through to maintain, develop and grow to the next level. A brand is one of the most valuable assets of any company. It cannot be rushed. Some of the most beautiful architecture in the world took time to build; look at the Taj Mahal; so many moving parts have to fit strategically into place. The same applies to branding, and you have to combine all these strategic moving parts and then add perseverance to the mix in order to create a million-dollar brand. Many people see the brand as being a logo, a set of colors, a catchy slogan, and a nice website. It is so much more than that – a brand is a perception; it is a legacy. It is an experience, a feeling. People need to see your brand and feel it is impactful. To build a brand that impacts you, you have to be in it for the long run. It will experience different seasons and have to navigate through these seasons. I see a lot of entrepreneurs these days wanting “easy success,” a shortcut; they get bored, and they lose interest. And they find another shiny object to chase when they don’t see results right away. The same goes for customers. If you have perseverance and trust in the process – keep showing up, building, and investing in brand equity without becoming attached to the outcome and willing to put in the work – this is where million-dollar brands are born. Lamborghini was not always Lamborghini – there was a level of perseverance and other layers to the brand journey that occurred before it “earnt” its place to become one of the world’s best luxury sports car brands. The same goes for Rolex, Chanel, and the list goes on. I am a strong believer that brands are not just built; they are earnt. Perseverance is a factor that every company today needs to have in order to reach that million-dollar brand status. At Million Dollar Branders, we are that secret perseverance that propels brands of the future-forward.
You recently founded Million Dollar Meta Brands at MDB. Can you tell us about this part of the company?
Million Dollar Meta Brands is an extension of Million Dollar Branders – where we get your brand ready for the Metaverse. The Metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection. Customers expect an “experience”. When we create Million Dollar Meta Brands, we keep this in mind. We create a “Phygital” Brand. A combination of the Digital and Physical. We now live in a mixed reality world. Brands that embrace this will excel. Our passionate team helps our clients build a roadmap for their brand to capture, attract, connect, and build community through strategic, world-class execution. At every touchpoint of your brand journey, whether from this physical realm to the digital and metaverse realm, there should be a wow factor moment that draws your customer in so they are compelled to experience the brand and connect with it on a deeper level. At Million Dollar Branders, we think long-term with our approach and make sure that your brand offers value from now until infinity. We offer a range of services to help you build your brand empire for the Metaverse. Whether through an NFT launch, a Game launch, the creation of a crypto token, a DApp launch, the opening of a Metaverse branded shop, the creation of your Metaverse, or the creation of all of the above in a full-fledged branded eco-system. Million Dollar Meta Brands will help you express your value, so you are different and build an unforgettable legacy that stands the test of time.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career?
Knowing the lives that I can impact in such a short space of time, every day. I am building legacies globally that I know will leave a lasting impact on this world. My work is so much bigger than “me”. It is a calling. I believe I have a spiritual and universal purpose in which I was called to build brand empires to create financial freedom for people brave enough to live their legacy out loud.
Justine, how is a day in your life?
I wake up every morning, go for a walk, eat a healthy breakfast, take my vitamins, meditate, say affirmations, and then journal. I have a shower – get dressed, and start my day. I make sure that I drink 2 liters of water at least each day. I make sure that I invest in 1 hour of self-development every day. I am very into my health and fitness and come from a bikini-body building background, so I hit the gym after work to get in my weight training session. After the gym, I come home, shower, eat a healthy dinner, switch off for an hour or two, then put away my phone and read. In life, it is important to control the things we can do with a healthy mind and healthy body, and being disciplined is important to me. As an entrepreneur, it is not always easy – but the future is bright if you claim your destiny and keep building your legacy at all costs. The key secret is to build yourself into the person you want to be around. Set the standard and be the example.
What is something people don’t know about you?
I am a recovering perfectionist who wears my heart on my sleeve. What you see is what you get. I am as authentic as they come. I am always working on myself, even if it gets uncomfortable. I am a risk-taker, trailblazer, absolute lover of life, and a big fan of dreamers and doers. I knew I was different when I got kicked out of my ballet class at the age of 6. I wasn’t built to conform to society and its rules. I knew I had a greater purpose on this earth from an early age. I have an insatiable level of drive, and if I can’t do something, I will strive to excel. I love changing lives and showing people what they are truly capable of.
Choose three of your favorite quotes and write them here.
“I am the master of my fate and captain of my soul” – INVICTUS
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”. Nelson Mandela
“Be your own Competition” – Justine Pogroske
If you had the power to change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would change the ideas around “The traditional career mentality” starting from kids at a young age. This sits deep with me as I was called “dumb at school” for not having a math/science brain – however my creative genius has led me to where I am today. Traditional schooling still tells you that if you get xx marks in school or attend university, you are set up for success. This, I think, is wrong. I would encourage growth and entrepreneurship at a young age for the kids and people who need it at any stage of life. Education and Experiences that allow communication, collaboration, and teamwork, I think, could impact the world in such positive ways.
I would also change the way people speak to themselves in their heads. Sometimes how people speak to themselves will seriously affect their destiny. We need to remember that you need to be kind to yourself because you are listening! If people spoke nicely and believed in themselves – the world would be a powerful place.
When you speak kindly to yourself consistently, you can experience more self-belief, achieve more, and have more confidence and happiness. You never know whom you are inspiring. Despite what some people think, this is much more motivating in the long term. We need to speak life into ourselves as well as others.
Taking the perspective that the brand is essential to driving value for the company, Justine Pogroske and her team look for effective ways to differentiate brands from the rest of the market while also tapping into the unique contours of each company’s brand identity and individual community composition.
No two cases are the same, and, while general principles often apply, the fine application of these techniques is the difference between meaningful branding that drives value for the company and less-effective results or, as Justine highlights, “If you are developing a personal brand, you will add value to yourself as a person/avatar and in new terrain as we step into the meta-verse. If you do not have a show-stopping brand presence that has an x-factor and demands attention, you will be left behind and risk becoming obsolete.”
While much of this is driven by technology, there is still an element of know-how from experience and knowing how to read the market.
In this vein, Pogroske reminds us that “A brand is a result of a problem being solved. It is an iconic symbol of a visual currency that commands attention and creates a raving following and, in some cases, a die-hard community. Ask yourself – if you were your customer, what would you expect/want/deeply desire? Then test test test. You cannot sell a brand that you do not resonate with yourself. The brand/product/service you sell should be something you are proud to pass on because you know its value.”
And it isn’t just about discovering the value in a company’s brand but also unlocking new potential: “Effective personal branding will differentiate you from the competition and allow you to build trust with prospective clients and employers. It is everything that makes you who you are, and it will showcase how you are different from others in the field. Building a brand is an important concept for a business, and it is just as important for an individual.”
To learn more about Justine Pogroske and Million Dollar Branders, please visit
Instagram: @justinepogroske_official or
Wisdom App: @justinepogroske_official
Images credit: Honeydieu Photography