During this episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Alexandra Dimiziani, co-founder and global managing partner of TwentyFirstCenturyBrand. Dimiziani’s previous career experience includes working at Airbnb as first the head of EMEA marketing, based in London, and then as the brand’s global marketing director in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dimiziani’s prior role at Coca-Cola was as global creative director for still beverages, new products and corporate social responsibility based in Atlanta and then as the marketing content director for Northwest Europe and the Nordics. Dimiziani talks about how her career has benefitted from shifting between advertising and marketing, as well as among other pursuits and interests like working in Rwanda and Burundi, getting her masters in investigative journalism and writing a novel that led to death threats.

Dimiziani discusses graduating from university at the young age of 19 with a bachelor’s in business administration and working at the ad agencies Bozell and DDB. She learned about extreme poverty while backpacking by herself through Ecuador, East Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Her trip also helped her gain global awareness and compassion for underprivileged communities, which coincided with her own feelings of being an outsider. Dimiziani shares the vast commercial marketing-meets-community responsibility insight she learned and applied while at Coca-Cola, Airbnb and most recently while launching TwentyFirstCenturyBrand.

We talk about how she is driven by personal growth and regularly tests her own limits. She also discusses the advantage gained by standing out from the crowd and being a lateral thinker because she’s had such varied real-life experiences. “I believe that the most innovation truly occurs in this sort of mash-up of insight and understanding across subject areas,” Dimiziani shares. 

Why do companies need a tight brand narrative centered around purpose? “So, the world understands why it needs the brand. It’s also how consumers know how to hold the brand accountable. So when that narrative goes out into the world and is molded, rightly so, by the community, it is still recognizable.” 

Finally, we discuss TwentyFirstCenturyBrand’s most popular offering called the ‘brand blueprint.’ This, she notes, is “what a brand aspires to stand for in the hearts and minds of its communities. And that result is a brand narrative that unites the vast and various stakeholder communities, from consumers to employees, partners and investors. It also acts as the foundational reference that helps the workforce make better, faster decisions that deliver on-brand consistently.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • When Alexandra Dimiziani isn’t advising brands, does she work as a C.I.A. agent? (01:38)
  • Alexandra introduces herself and her early work experience. (03:12)
  • What was the novel about that Alexandra wrote?  (08:50)
  • What inspired her move to Coca-Cola? (09:25)
  •  Alexandra discusses moving to London to get her degree, meeting her husband and joining Airbnb. (10:56)
  • How was Alexandra shaped by getting her degree at 19? (14:28) 
  • In what ways does Alexandra take strength from her variety of experiences? (17:55)
  • What did she learn while working for Airbnb? (21:45)
  • How did TwentyFirstCenturyBrand get started and what does it offer? (29:28) 
  • What are the values of TwentyFirstCenturyBrand? (38:32)
  • Is there an experience in Alexandra Dimiziani’s life that has defined who she is today? (43:43)
  • What advice would she give to her younger self? (46:23)
  • What fuels Alexandra to keep going in her career and life? (47:40)
  • Are there brands that she thinks we should pay attention to? (48:35)
  • Where does Alexandra see the future of marketing going? (51:07)

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.