Africa Business Communities

[Interview] Donna Rachelson, CEO, Branding & Marketing YOU, South Africa

Founded in 2007, Branding & Marketing YOU is headed up by Donna Rachelson - branding and marketing specialist, author of three best-selling books, successful businesswoman and savvy business investor.

Tell a bit about your company please?

Branding & Marketing YOU offers companies the branding and marketing know-how they need to expedite the value and impact of their brand by leveraging their most valuable assets – their people. 

Our experience and insights into today’s competitive market place enables us to tailor our branding solutions and put them ahead of the game in the minds of both competitors and customers. Branding & Marketing YOU is the only South African-based business focused primarily on personal and team branding. The company has trained thousands of people across more than 20 blue chip clients.

We are located in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Who are your clients?

Blue-chip corporates – primarily in the services, professional services and financial services sectors.

What are the company’s Unique Selling Points?

• We are driven by our values. To partner with clients on their journey of learning & growth, creating unforgettable experiences along the way and meaningful connections underpinned by a bias of abundance and a drive to make a lasting impact
• Through the development of learning journeys, we personalise interventions for employees that deliver maximum impact
• We have trained over 3000 corporate professionals to date and understand what it takes to build and grow a personal brand in the context of a company brand
• We ensure sustained learning solutions through a combination of tools that includes books; videos; newsletters; coaching and e-books.

You wrote the book Play to Win: What women can learn from men in business. What would you say is the greater problem confronting the workplace in South Africa – racial or gender segregation?

Gender - women are not advancing at the same rate as men in the workplace, the gender pay gap is significant across industries and there has not been fast enough progress in levelling the playing field. The challenge is prevalent across industries. If companies continue to hire and promote women at current rates, the number of women in management will increase by just one percentage point over the next ten years, according to recent research published by McKinsey in the USA. But if companies start hiring and promoting women and men to manage at equal rates over the next ten years, parity in management will be close — 48 percent women versus 52 percent men.

What, if anything, can South African women do to level this playing field?

• Men invented the rules of work. If women understand the rules and combine this knowledge with their innate strengths and talents, they are able to impact the world of work positively
• Don’t wait to get noticed and take credit for projects – develop your personal brand and actively communicate and demonstrate the value you deliver
• Just propose what you think. It doesn’t have to be 100% perfect – women often believe projects/ideas have to be ‘perfect’ before they propose them
• Ditch the small incremental moves – women need to take more risks, make bold moves and have a strategy of where they want to go
• Ask for what you want. Women tend to hint as opposed to asking directly for what they want
• Focus on results and deliverables, learn the business and become financially literate – women need to actively demonstrate their impact on the company’s bottom line

In what direction is your company be going this year, and for the long term?

This year we’re focused on helping corporate go-getters, women and entrepreneurs make their mark. Longterm, we're working to expand our footprint in SA.


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[Interview] Basie Pharedi, Co-Founder, Nabutone Connect, South Africa

[Interview] Esther Dumbiri, Managing Director, SHTL Publishing, Nigeria

[Interview] Hayat Essakkati, Director, Maroc4Invest, Morocco


Africa Business Communities is conducting a series of interviews with CEOs & Business Founders in Africa.

Do you fit the profile? Great! Send an e-mail to



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