Anca Rarau, Brandocracy: Entrepreneurship, as a state of mind
Entrepreneurship is all about deferred gratification, there is a wise saying in the business community. This means that, as much as we would like to see ourselves or dream, entrepreneurship contains continuous learning, adjusting and the “never settle” attitude. In Romania, the entrepreneurial spirit seems to get eager to demonstrate and grow and maybe that is why we are so inspired by people who were not born with the silver spoon of entrepreneurship but trained themselves and become ones. Such person is Anca Rarau, from Brandocracy.
Educated in Romania and inspired by the wider perspective of global marketing, (a graduate the Babeş-Bolyai University’s Faculty of Economical Studies in Cluj-Napoca, with a master degree from ASE Bucharest and an Executive MBA from CNAM Paris), Anca Rarau holds over 20 years of experience in brand positioning, strategic and operational marketing, customer experience, employer branding, research and PR, multiple Effie -awarded for the efficiency of marketing campaigns she coordinated. So she gained a wide perspective over specific aspects of marketing, from brand positioning to employer branding, after a lifetime spent in this field.
Before starting her own consultancy business and becoming an entrepreneur, she was defined by an intrapreneurial spirit when acting as head of the marketing teams in two of Romania’s top banks: Banca Transilvania and BCR/ Erste Group. A very special project Anca was involved in is the preparation of the marketing documentation for the listing, for the very first time, of a bank on the Bucharest Stock Exchange.
In 2017, Anca entered entrepreneurship as a branding consultant and in 2018 launched Brandocracy, “the concept about people, perceptions, and decisions, a concept that use the power of a brand in a way that integrates both the business and brand objectives involving the marketing strategy, leadership, organizational culture, and customer experience.” She is also an International Advertising Association Romania Ambassador, after the recently launched at Cluj, the IAA Romania’s first Regional Hub outside Bucharest.
The origins are hard to be left behind
Before even thinking about the Brandocracy concept, Anca tackled the idea of joining the entrepreneurship world. This idea came to her after almost a lifetime spent in marketing, after having coordinated multiple projects and campaigns on brand positioning, marketing campaigns, even employer branding. They all had a wide market exposure and produced effects in people’s lives. As Anca says, after a lifetime spent in marketing and coordinating thousands of projects, “it comes a moment in one’s life to wonder what the next step is. So I started asking myself how I could take a leap further, to another level, with everything I knew and could do.”
As Anca says, “the decision was far from easy: I was leaving behind a team of extraordinary people and colleagues. I was saying goodbye to an industry where I learned how success and professional recognition feel like, where I learned a lot of things. However, it is said that whenever one reaches a peak, it is time for a change, for a turn to another ascending curve, to a new beginning. I already went through this kind of turning point before, back in autumn 2012. Then, after 6 months of talks, I decided to accept the invitation of BCR/Erste to join their team. This new beginning meant I had to leave behind 17 amazing years at Banca Transilvania, with unforgettable people and experiences.” The idea of running her own business and develop a new kind of growth with a different impact started to emerge in Anca’s thoughts when she was still in Bucharest. At the beginning of 2016, she was also thinking of getting back to her hometown, Cluj-Napoca.
For her, no step is being done before having measured each and every impact of a critical jump into entrepreneurship. So, before “taking the leap”, Anca did a true due diligence analysis for three months, she talked to almost 100 people and looked deeply into the eyes of the market to understand if there is a context for what she had to offer. “So, I could say that the market was there, waiting for me to start my business. Now I can confirm that companies are ready to pay for branding and marketing strategy, for employer branding or new customer experience vision. Before having launched the website – brandocracy.ro – there was a long period of time when clients came (and they still come) via referrals. They found out that I became a consultant and they were the ones looking for me. The “hot market” works very well. The personal brand was and still is a real asset.”
In the autumn of 2017, she took the leap as entrepreneur.
Diving into entrepreneurship
This is how, in the autumn of 2017, Anca said “Hello again” to Cluj-Napoca and started her own business. Brandocracy was born, her new beginning. With one of her former CEO usual saying of in mind “show me the money!” and everything she had learned in business at BCR and BT, Anca already knew that each marketing strategy developed for clients and every cent spent in her business needed to reflect in added value and measurable actions. So, as Anca says, “Brandocracy has been created as a concept about the people who stand behind any brand, their perceptions, and decisions. The method I developed uses the power of a brand in a way that integrates both the business and the brand objectives. The Brandocracy approach involves marketing strategy, leadership, organizational culture, and customer experience. At Brandocracy, we are the people behind brands”
What is the differentiator of Brandocracy? Anca says that she experienced during the years the in-depth and 360 degrees ‘perspective on both client, brand and public’s expectations and vision, that determined her to stretch her understanding the different business methods of large companies and SMEs in various industries. For instance, Brandocracy works now with clients from healthcare, IT, construction material production, informal education, finances, culture, tourism, legal consultancy, media, construction, sport, and tech events.
The company’s values “Education, Curiosity, Innovation, Courage, and Authenticity” is also a mantra taken into each partnership and project developed for clients. “Each time we seek information and inspiration, we feel the need to give back what we learned and experienced. One of our favorite ways to do that is through mentoring projects, an important part of Brandocracy. We offer to mentor marketing people, entrepreneurs, startups or companies just starting their journeys.”
What’s in the name of a personal brand?
Anca says it better: “The personal brand, once built and developed, stays with you in everything you do. When you become an entrepreneur, you need to understand and evaluate three things from the start: who you are, what you can do, who your connections are.” The personal brand is at the end of an equation that has been solved during the past 20 years for Anca. She says that every referral she obtains or when her expertise is currently acknowledged as a result of previous projects in marketing, “weighs heavily on the shoulders and gives her motivation and energy. The personal brand, once built and developed, stays with you in everything you do.”
Also, Anca says that she was very much inspired and empowered by her parents – a combination of rigor, courage and creativity, by successfully Romanian entrepreneurs, by her intraprenorial role – when she led many projects in the corporate environment, but with the freedom to have her own vision of strategy and implementation. Also, Anca was inspired from what she learned from her managers, colleagues, such as BT’s former CEO Robert Rekkers and his straight-forward Dutch attitude, open minded and focus on innovation, Gabriela Nistor, the Deputy CEO of BT and also Anca’s first direct manager. With her, Anca learned to never leave anything to chance and always test the professional limits. Another architect for the design of Anca as business professional was Utku Ogrendil, the current CEO at Provus-RomCard, from whom she learned to evaluate fast and accurate different situations and people. Anca was also inspired by Tomas Spurny, ex-CEO BCR, now CEO Moneta Money Bank, in the Czech Republic – “a very exacting, intelligent, remarkable person. From him, I learned how to always speak my mind without any fear, how to always fight to the very last drop because there is always a solution.”
What else inspired Anca on the road? She told us that the inspiring books about entrepreneurship, such as the one that Andreea Rosca wrote together with Mona Dirtu – The Ones who change the game “was very welcome in the times when I was considering to start my own business. I recommend it to all the entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs! This choice I made was also motivated by the innovative, authentic spirit and positive energy that I found among the Romanian entrepreneurs who grew their businesses in Romania. I had the opportunity to meet some of them within the Romanian Business Leaders Foundation where I am a member of several years.”
Anca’s becoming as entrepreneur has a valuable pedigree but maybe, the entrepreneurial spirit has always been there for her: “I think this is what the entrepreneurial life is all about. Up to now, I identify myself with it completely. It suits me well. When I tend to become too perfectionist or too “managerial”, the team “sends me a hint”. I am still adapting, it’s true. But flexibility is also part of being an entrepreneur.
What matters the most in business?
“The people and the sales numbers. This is what all is about and it always has been,” says Anca. “It’s people who stand behind brands, behind businesses that grow and shine. This is why the organizational culture is so important. This is why at Brandocracy, for any of our projects, when it comes to build a brand and set the business objectives, we integrate the employer branding strategy from the start, as methodology.” Anca puts a great value on teams, her company’s team and her clients’ teams, everything being part of the same cycle of doing business. “First and foremost, the people behind brands are the people within the companies. The consultants are the ones who lend a hand to their growth and help them build in the right direction.”
Then, as Anca adds, the sales numbers indicate if a business is on a right track. “The numbers offer great feedback together with the right positioning of the brand, the growth in awareness and the achievement of the other business objectives we have set with our clients. We get very excited when we see that following our work, there are companies that diversify their product portfolio successfully, improve their customer experience, or enter a new market niche. For us, the most important indicator of success is when our clients refer us to their business partners or friends with similar businesses.”
(From the print edition – by Magda Purice)