We’re heading over to the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam to meet with Katja Rogova, a Russian brand consultant who we met last year at the launch of our latest book Around the World in 80 Brands. At the time she asked us why no Russian brands were featured in the book and we got talking about the transformation of the Russian market in the last decade.
Now as we’re about to launch our NextWorld Storytelling project, we got back in touch with her and asked whether she’d be our curator for Russia.
Katja is waiting for us outside the Hermitage, looking out over the canal and the bridges. “I like this spot,” she says. “Even though it’s totally different, it reminds me of my hometown St. Petersburg with the nice views of the water and the bridges… But let’s go and see the museum, I read there’s a great exhibition about Peter the Great. Do you want to go and check it out?”
“Sure,” says Anouk. “As long as you also tell us more about the Russia of today and its culture and brands!”
As we pass through the exhibition spaces, I ask Katja what she thinks of our Amsterdam Hermitage. “Well,” she says with a little frown, “I guess the exhibition is quite interesting, but the building is nothing like the real thing. I think you’ll have to come to St Petersburg with me soon so you can I understand what I mean.”
“Oh I think you could convince us quite easily,” Anouk says as we head to the garden café for coffee and cake.
“So Katja,” I say after we’ve settled in a shady corner of the garden, “we met briefly last year, but tell us again about your background. How did you end up in branding and what brought you to Amsterdam?”
“Well,” says Katja, “I was born in a family of doctors, so everyone expected me to study medicine, but I had this passion for travelling, learning about new cultures and meeting interesting people.”
“Ok,” I say, “and where did the interest for branding come in?”
“Brands intrigue me,” says Katja, “I wanted to understand how they work and how they trigger such loyalty in people. So I studied psychology in St. Petersburg and then moved to the Netherlands to study branding and understand why people choose to belong to a certain group by buying particular brands… How brands can become a religion.”
“And how did you like studying in Amsterdam?”
“I enjoyed the international environment, but I heard a lot of stereotypes about Russia,” says Katja. “Some were funny, but often they made me sad. So that’s when I decided that I wanted to work on changing stereotypes of countries. Now I’m building my career in two markets: Russia and the Netherlands.”
“Impressive!” I say. “You’re really building bridges and breaking down walls! What would you say to becoming our NextWorld Storytelling curator for Russia? Finding interesting Russian people and brands and telling their story as part of our project, hopefully also improving Russia’s current image…”
“Sounds great,” says Katja. “I’d love to be a part of it!”
Tags: Katja Rogova, Ekaterina Rogova, Rogova, Katja, Ekaterina, CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, NextWorld, CoolBrands Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, curator Russia, coolbrands curator Russia, meeting katja Rogova, meeting Ekaterina rogova7 July,2013