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Martina Olbertova

Meaning expert, brand & cultural strategist and keynote speaker

Martina Olbertova Biography

The world’s leading expert on creating meaning and cultural relevance in business to bridge the meaning and value gaps between organisations, brands, culture and society.

Described as an “unapologetic breath of fresh air”, Martina is an inspiring speaker with bold vision on the future of brands and businesses who brings a fresh big-picture perspective on the role of meaning in organisational culture, leadership and management, brand strategy, marketing, advertising, innovation, customer experience, value creation and long-term growth.

Martina is an international speaker, writer, strategist, social scientist and semiotician with deep expertise in meaning and its vital role for brands and businesses when it comes to restoring integrity, trust, cultural relevance, value and social impact.

Her approach is focused on bringing deep cultural and consumer insights to life with clarity, simplicity and embedded in the real-world context that the customers live in. As a social scientist and anthropologist, she believes that brands and organisations need to mirror the pace of evolution in culture and society to be relevant, create value and grow.

With a dual background as an academic (doctor of social sciences) and as a practitioner (with a diverse experience in media, brand strategy, advertising, PR, market research, strategic innovation and management consulting), Martina brings an unusually rich, thorough and holistic perspective to some of the most pressing business and brand challenges today.

Martina sees the world through the lens of meaning, culture and symbolism. Her point of view is interested in how the signs and symbols we create, share and consume every day affect the quality of decisions we make in our lives: in business, at work, at home and as our authentic selves and human beings.

Witnessing the large-scale meaning crisis across the industry over the last decade, caused by the unprecedented level of change, cultural complexity and technological disruption, Martina founded Meaning.Global, a strategic intelligence consultancy, to advise leaders on how to stay relevant and profitable amidst global cultural change.

Martina helps brands and organisations understand the destabilising foundations of the world we live in to adapt to the quickly changing context of the 21st century. She looks at the shifts in cultural and symbolic meanings in the rapidly changing world today to help her clients get a deeper understanding of culture, its values and changes in consumer behaviour. She explores how these shifts in culture and society affect the value of brands to help leaders discover new and previously unseen opportunities for future growth.

She identifies patterns, invisible connections, trajectories of change and how the cultural codes are shifting across different markets around the world to help businesses anticipate where the value shifts next. Her aim is to equip leaders with the hidden set of cultural knowledge often lacking in business today, yet so vital to the future success of brands and organisations in the real-world context.

For the past 15 years, Martina has worked in four different countries (UK, Ireland, USA and Czechia) on diverse strategy, insight and innovation briefs for global brands, such as Kantar, Unilever, Vodafone, IBM, London Gatwick, British Land, ICAEW, KBC, Visa, Lloyds Bank, Bank of Ireland, J&J, Heineken or Pernod Ricard. Having lived and conducted research in many countries around the world, Martina brings an in-depth cultural insight and multicultural sensitivity allowing her to make sense of different cultural backgrounds, understand people and their unique cultural differences.

She’s a contributor to Branding Strategy Insider and WARC AdMap, a commentator for Forbes, Luxury Daily, Luxury Society and other media. She’s the author of The Luxury Report 2019 on Redefining The Future Meaning Of Luxury. She’s been a visiting lecturer on Cultural Branding at various universities in Europe. She holds a BSc., MSc. and a doctorate in Media Studies from Charles University in Prague, and also studied Political Journalism at Georgetown University (USA) and Consumer Cultures at the University of Glamorgan (UK).

Martina has given talks at corporate events and conferences in cities around the world: London, Paris, Toronto, Shanghai, Manila, Berlin, Prague, Slovenia, Istanbul and Morocco. She’s appeared on podcasts, radio shows, has written for international business magazines and been quoted in international newspapers in the US, Canada, Europe, LatAm, Middle East and Asia.

Martina Olbertova Videos

Testimonials for Martina Olbertova

“Martina stands out in the fields of brand and business strategy. She is a real talent that is rare to find. Her approach is highly insightful, curious and creative. She is someone who prizes consistently improving the quality of her work and ideas. I highly recommend her to leaders searching for insights to help drive value and growth, and to anyone looking for a fantastic speaker for their next event.”
Tom Asacker

Best-selling author, keynote speaker and strategic adviser

“I had the chance to bring Martina to our international conference Brand Week Istanbul 2019. She empowered the conference greatly delivering a 45 minutes talk on The Future Of Brands: Lead With Meaning At The Core to our senior marketing and agency executives. The interest in her session was amazing! And the session was full of attendees. Martina’s presence added a spectacular value to the event. Her positive attitude and her exceptional perspective on industry development are what our attendees loved so much. I’m hoping and looking forward to working with Martina again in the near future!”

Sercan Yenipazar

Organiser, Brand Week Istanbul 2019 conference in Turkey

“I highly recommend the semiotics workshop. Her expertise brings value to anyone working in any area of communications (meaning pretty much everyone). She’s able to reframe and refocus worldviews to better understand (via macro & micro study) how others can misperceive visual and textual messages – whether in sales, marketing, HR, management, or simply in daily interactions.”

“We were very pleased with the insights that she shared, which showed us how various elements can convey completely different meanings than intended depending on the context. Very often we are too close to what we work with daily, which makes us unable to see what we are doing with fresh eyes. Martina’s is the ideal outsider/objective opinion because she can express clearly any potentially problematic areas and offer practical suggestions for how to fix them.”

Jason Mashak

Former CMO, MyQ Technologies

“Martina is a vibrant and unapologetic breath of fresh air. Her passion for branding, semiotics and the future of business is unparalleled. In our interactions over the past several years, Martina has made me think in new ways, has challenged some of my core beliefs about “meaning” and has elevated my own understanding and my brand work. Having Martina in my network is a joy and I hope she will continue to spread her vision far and wide.”

Hilton Barbour

Marketing Provocateur and Change Consultant

“Martina brings a unique and highly valued perspective to the discourse on brands today. I include her in a small group of marketing oriented leaders that are shaping a better world through brand.”

Derrick Daye

Publisher at Branding Strategy Insider, Managing Director at The Blake Project

“I had the pleasure to bring Martina as speaker to our Consumer Insighting and Storytelling conference in Manila, the Philippines. Her talk showcased her passion on insighting to connect culture, consumers, brands and define new meaning. This skill is highly relevant in our world today. When things are moving so fast, brands need to ensure that they are more thoughtful and mindful of their messaging to not alienate their customers or the public. I am happy to meet experts like Martina. We have learned a lot from her expertise.”

Germaine Reyes

President, Synergy Market Research + Strategic Consultancy

“I had been an admirer of Martina Olbertova’s ideas for many years, but my appreciation of her gained new dimensions when I collaborated with her on the podcast This Human Business. Martina is the rare person in business who is capable of seeing beyond the problems of the moment to grasp the underlying thematic issues that have led to the development of those problems in the first place. With her meticulous crafting of the conceptual materials derived from her semiotic inquiry, Martina brings these deep insights back to the matter at hand, weaving together a coherent cultural vision that brings strategy and tactics together with unified purpose. She brings intelligence, experience, and sensitivity to every project, speaking for the human perspective with competence, creativity, and relevance.”

Jonathan Cook

Creator of This Human Business podcast

Martina Olbertova‘s Topics

The Future Of Behaviour: The NextGen Consumer

The NextGen consumer embraces meaning and relevance above all. 

Personal relevance is becoming the alpha and omega for brands to create to help consumers creatively express their own authentic identities. We are seeing the marketplace shift from buying to being, from ownership to usership and from aspiration to identity. 

This new cultural dynamic is turning the old brand model on its head. These shifts in consumer preferences, values and behaviours have large-scale implications for brands and how they need to design their future strategies, communication and experiences to attract The New Consumer in this fluid age.

This talk will help you find the answers to what it is that people crave today, why they behave this way and what you can do to align your brand’s future with these shifts in cultural values and human behaviour.

Brand Trust, Authenticity, Meaning & Cultural Relevance

Brand trust is at all-time low as brands are misstepping their social mark and making gestures that are culturally irrelevant.

Cultural irrelevance is one of the biggest reasons why brands struggle to grow and retain their value today. 

As Culture is the new product for brands, knowing how to navigate the codes of culture strategically in the global marketplace full of complexity and disruption is paramount to future success of brands and organisations. 

Learning how to create an authentic meaning connected to your brand’s essence that is aligned with your customers’ values, as well as their cultural values, is the key to managing brands that are relevant, valuable and profitable in today’s quickly changing world.

This talk will help you understand the vital role of authenticity, meaning and cultural relevance for increasing brand trust and your credibility.

The Future Of Brands: Lead With Meaning, Not Purpose

Brands are in the business of meaning exchange, not purpose. 

People buy what brands mean to them, not brands and products alone. They don’t buy your WHY, they buy their own WHY: personal relevance. 

That’s why understanding how people create meaning – culturally, cognitively and symbolically – and how this meaning shapes your customers’ perception needs to be at the forefront of your future brand strategy.

While purpose externalises brand value to the neverland of lofty promises that are seldom delivered to the customer, meaning helps you craft an ownable and differentiated symbolic territory for your brand to occupy in people’s minds in realm of the here and now.

This talk will explain how to manage brand value and equity and why meaning is the strategy for the next decade.

Closing The Gap Between Organisations & Society

Organisations and brands are misaligned with the society and the world of people. 

This makes their strategies, communication, behaviours and actions in the real world largely irrelevant, which in turn makes their lose value and stunts their long-term growth. 

For all the data measurement, technology and efficiency, we have lost the human touch. We live in a world of friction, silos, fragmentation and noise, where things make little to no sense. 

The four key disconnects (meaning gaps) in business today are between brands/organisations and the Culture, the Context in which they operate, Trust and Credibility they fail to foster due to lack of integrity between corporate values & actions, and Social Impact led by a purpose that lacks grounding in the real world of people.

When organisations close these gaps and learn to better mirror the pace of evolution in culture and society, they can become more meaning-driven, human-led and create real value and growth.

This talk or a workshop will help you identify these four key gaps in your organisation and give you practical ways how to fix them to create a more meaningful brand and organisation.

The Future Of Luxury: How Cultural Shifts Affect Brands

The world of luxury is quickly changing today.

The recent global social, economic and political events have rewritten the rules of luxury for good. Traditional luxury brands are finding it difficult to adjust to this altered reality as their  new normal. But all is not lost. Luxury brands can respond to these new threats and challenges by learning how to navigate the invisible streams of Culture strategically.

Luxury is all about meaning: it has a superior symbolic value that far surpasses the functional value of its products, brands and services. This makes it incredibly sensitive to culture change.

This talk, based on The Luxury Report 2019, will explain the five key cultural shifts redefining the global face of luxury today and the five strategic actions that luxury leaders can take to capitalise on the shifting streams of culture to create new value, meaning and cultural relevance, rather than being passively affected by these shifts.

The New Meaning Of Luxury: The Authentic Self

Culture is a powerful agent of change. As the culture shifts, it redefines what things mean along with it. One of those concepts is Luxury.

Luxury in the 21st century has become synonymous with much different things than were viewed as luxury in the past. What was scarce throughout the history is now abundant and what was abundant is now scarce.

We are moving away from the ostentatious and status-seeking symbols of luxury, opulence and excess as we learn to embrace minimalism, authenticity and connect back to our human essence to truly live and feel in the moment.

The luxury brands across industries – be it personal luxury, experiential luxury, hospitality, wellbeing and leisure sectors or spatial design, architecture and sensory retail – need to adopt the new visual and symbolic language of luxury to be seen as relevant, engaging and attractive to The New Luxury Consumer.

This talk will help you understand what the new meaning of luxury is and why embracing the Authentic Self is the highest form of luxury.

Books by Martina Olbertova

Martina Olbertova, book

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