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Des Dobreva on building authority for your business, the future of branding and how to deal with online trolls

Referred to as “The Branding Queen™”, Des Dobreva is an award-winning Brand Strategist, TEDx speaker and published author. She’s worked with businesses from over 30 industries in the most competitive markets in the world and helped them increase their revenue by building and scaling profitable brands. Desislava is recognized for her unconventional approach to branding because she dives deep into the psychology and neuroscience and uses disruptive tactics to create innovation.

Her community Badass Brand Squad is the hottest place to be if you are an entrepreneur. Recurring Revenue program is something that is widely popular, especially now, when building a passive income stream is more important than ever. She also runs Digital agency Disruptive brand media together with me as well as membership Society where we help to build memberships.

Here will be a brief summary of our awesome conversation about business, branding & trolls. Check out questions you are especially interested in or listen to a full interview on a podcast.

Guna: What are the 3 weirdest things about you?
Des: The first one is called Lucifer. I have the ex-angel / ruler of hell as my master. Second – when I walk up or down any stairs, even at home, I need to look down at my feet. Number three – I can not do anything that requires balance.

Guna: What are the things that make Des happy? What are the things which you think in general make people happy?
Des: There is this beautiful lake next to my house and there is a pair of swans and now they have their babies. […] Every single time when I go outside and see these creatures together with their babies I just feel so happy for no apparent reason. And it’s not just me, everybody else just stops, stars and smiles. It’s amazing but not nearly as amazing as physical contact. If there is anything this lock-down taught me is that I really miss being able to hug my friends. I’am a huge extrovert but I think that even for introverts this has been a really tough time. […] Physical contact is way more important than we would ever think.

Guna: You have this amazing community Badass Brand Squad and there is a cool thing that you do – support kittens in Thailand. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, what made you do it and how you decided to involve your community members in this?
Des: I truly believe that every successful business out there should donate a percentage of their profits to whatever they feel passionate about. You should absolutely tie that to your brand values as I have with animals and animal rights. […] My friend runs a shelter for cats in Thailand. I went there to adopt Lucifer and I saw how well she treats them and how much help she need. So as soon as I adopted Lucifer I set up a monthly donation that comes straight from BBS (Badass Brand Squad), because one of our values is animal welfare, most people support that and donate their time and volunteer as well.

Guna: While we are talking now about brand values lets tap into the branding space. There are a lot of myths about branding. As “The Branding Queen™” please enlighten us and share – what are the most important parts of branding, why do you think there are so many myths about branding, where people need to start with branding?
Des: I studied a history of branding – it started as actual branding of animals, transport and putting stamps on letters, even though people were not releasing why they were doing it. It’s important to know that – it kinda translates what we do today when we branding ourselves. Since it was such an external thing to do – marking your territory – i think it’s why

people still believe that branding is mostly external and doesn’t even know about internal branding, about defining your values, your unique differentiator, your origin story. They don’t realize that is the entire foundation of your business.

Branding and marketing is not the same thing. Branding comes first, marketing comes second and then comes advertising.

Guna: You are getting a lot of hate. Why do you think people attack you and tell us how you deal with them? Because you are doing it so gracefully.
Des: Fun fact – I actually teach that. In BBS we have a training “How to deal with trolls on social media”. […] Why are they attacking me? It’s a mix of things. 1) I make it so easy on purpose. I filter out people with my content. 2) Not to go into feminism, but I’m a woman. And when you are successful, incredibly confident (borderline arrogant) people feel threatened on a subconscious level. When they can not put you in the box in their mind they lash out. 3) It’s something about personality.
People in our space fastly over exaggerate talent. Hard work will outperform talent when talent stops working hard.

Guna: When we talk about branding – what is your prediction for next year or 5 years – how branding will evolve and how people will understand it and what it will mean within online space?
Des: In the next 12 month not much is gonna change. But if we look at the picture 10 years from now […] Universities are starting to implement it more and more. More and more people are learning that branding is a combination of internal and external. More people will become actually qualified to do this and get better results for their clients. Which will mean that a lot more businesses than ever will have a solid foundation and will succeed faster.

25:05 Lightening fire round (phrases or questions need to be answered as fast as possible)

Guna: You have done something incredible – you have standed in front of 700 on your TEDx talk talking about cyber bullying. Share your back story – how you got on TEDx tak, how did you choose the topic?
Des: Fun fact – I got multiple clients from that talk with barely mentioning my business. … It landed on my lab because the guy was following me online for about a year and at one point he started to plan the event and understand they need people who have authority and who will be willing to fly to other parts of the planet… And because he was following me he know everything – that I love traveling, my story with cyber bullying – so it was a no-brainier to ask me. It was terrifying but great.
I’m not a phenomenal added, because this is the worst moment of my life that I was talking about, but I didn’t cry so I feel that was a win. […] This was when cyber bullying existed of course as a term, but people didn’t really know what it was and most importantly they didn’t understand what was a big deal about it. What’s a big deal – someone says you nasty stuff online – so what? Nobody wanted to help me. That is what my talk was about. […] Talk I did was 2 years ago. The statistics that I share there about child, teen and adults suicides connected to cyber bullying is staggering. I suggest to educate yourselves, especially if you have children.

See Des TEDx talk HERE >>>

Guna: What were the things that you did and what are you recommend for somebody who wants to build authority pretty quick and are ready to work as hard as they can?
Des: I think people rush the process of trying to build authority. Have you noticed how many people can not show you actual results that they have delivered for clients? When I started I worked for 2 years entirely for free. Because I was so eager to learn the skills and actually get results. […] When I really realized “wow I am good, I have results now”, I made a plan in 45 days to move my brand on social media. I started to share tons of educational content there, which builds trust and trusts leads to authority. […]

That’s why I worked so long for nickels, dimes or nothing – because I was collecting results, I was collecting proof that I was good at what I did. People quickly realize – yea this is somebody that we can pay to make us better at branding and business.

Transition from freelancer to business owner is tough, but a lot of people over complicate by skipping steps which become really painful later on.

Guna: What would be other tips you could give to our audience to grow their brands in the right way?
Des: Stay on your platform until you have mastered it. Start with one. Don’t just start with a platform where your clients are hanging out, it also needs to be a platform where you understand their purchasing behavior very well. That is really crucial.
Another tip I can give what I call “strategic vulnerability”. My rule of thumb is – heel from it then talk about it. There is nothing wrong about talking about your divorce or tragedy that happened in your life, as long as you have healed from it and you can separate the emotion in some extent from telling a story cause otherwise all you gonna do will be evoke sympathy and get people to feel sorry for you but it will do nothing for your business.

Guna: There is the question that you always ask to your community – What makes your blood boil? So what is it for you?
Des: That’s hunters, people who don’t believe in free speech, people who speak without ever educating themselves on topic, fake experts and Trump.

Guna. The Branding Queen – who would you be if you couldn’t be The Branding Queen?
Des: Investigative journalist for sure. That was my dream for a while, but then I kinda let my parents talk me out of it and went to study economics. But I’m here and you know – don’t ever regret any of your choices.

Guna: I know you read a lot. Maybe there are some great books you suggest in terms of business and what everybody should read. And maybe there is also some TV show or movie that you would recommend for business.
Des: I’m the “Shark Tank” addict. They are not just learning about business they are also learning about branding, positioning, story telling.
I want to recommend a book that I just finished for the 3rd time, it’s called “Everybody lies”. It’s basically about how we think we understand our society and our individual cultures but actually we really don’t. You will learn some really disturbing things about humans.

Guna: What would be that one thing that you would suggest business people to do right now, today?
Des: Ask yourself a question: “Which one of the milestones that I lived through my life that you think your clients will resonate the most?” Take that and write your origin story about that.

Some of places where you can find Desislava Dobreva:


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