What’s in a “Power Co-Brand”? Lessons from a Yin-Yang partnership

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Co-branding. An important aspect of personal branding that often gets overlooked. Co-branding is essentially a partnership between two brands (or organizations) that leverages each other’s reputation, and in turn can amplify awareness about a product, service or cause. If done right, co-branding can give your personal brand a powerful boost.

This month, I thought I’d investigate what it takes to be a successful “power co-brand”. So I turned to an extraordinary power co-brand right here in London. Hela Wozniak-Kay and Annie Brooks are the directors of Sister Snog (www.sistersnog.com): a remarkable club for successful business women who “recognise the value of finding fans-friends-&-followers to help catapult their business to heady heights”.

Here they discuss the key components of their power co-brand.

Hela Wozniak-Kay & Annie BrooksPhotographer: Annie Armitage of www.anniearmitage.com

1) They complement each other.

Hela: We’re a yin-&-yang partnership so it’s rather easy to differentiate the Hela Personal Brand from the Annie Personal Brand. We’re a double act, partners in crime who complement each other.

Even the Sister Snog website captures this aspect of their co-brand. “Yin meets Yang” is their tagline, and their co-branding is pronounced throughout the site, e.g.: “Together they’ve put their indelible hallmark on London’s networking landscape by creating a brilliant brand full of social sizzle and business buzz.”

Annie elaborates on the complementary qualities of their co-branding:

  • Annie’s the heart and Hela’s the soul of the business. Two individuals cannot be the same and run a successful business. They both need to bring complementary skills to the party.
  • Hela’s the wordsmith. Annie’s the numerate one. It’s a real case of right brain meets left brain.
  • Hela’s the risk taker. Annie’s far more cautious. Hela’s patient but lacks tolerance. She’s a real creative thinker and particularly good at looking at the bigger picture and spotting an opportunity. This is why she is the initiator while Annie is the completer.
  • Although Annie may not be a risk taker she’s one of life’s great adventurers. Rather more tolerant than patient, Annie drives the day to day running of the business, is a total whizz with figures and keeps an eagle eye on the finances.
  • Hela and Annie are both very down to earth individuals. Neither suffers fools gladly or has any problem facing up to the music. And they share the same sense of humour, which always means there’s a lot of laughter at Snog Towers. They have a magical working relationship and the Annie and Hela show seems to be rather magnetic – attracting the most amazing people who have become a part of their business world.
  • Annie’s the tick to Hela’s tock.

2) Their individual personal brands are blended within the larger brand of their business

When I asked them to describe their personal brands in three words, Hela and Annie turned to their LinkedIn profiles to better understand how others perceive their brands. Annie’s top attributes were “Enthusiastic. Efficient. Charming.” Hela’s were “Cheeky. Visionary. Creative.” While uniquely part of their personal brands, these individual attributes also clearly feed into their business.

Hela: When two strong personal brands unite in business, their union leads to a place where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. The result is a brand-new-brand.

The Sister Snog brand has its own individual brand personality, which is clearly influenced by our individual brands and is a fusion of our core values. It is a brand that exudes independence and youthful exuberance. Clearly feminine in character, it’s a distinctive brand that’s easily identified. The name embodies timeless qualities of style, sensuality and modern boldness.

Hela is the brand custodian and soul of the Sister Snog brand.
Annie is the brand guardian and heart of the Sister Snog brand.

Annie: Our personal brands have to dovetail with our business brand. They can’t be disparate otherwise the business wouldn’t work as it wouldn’t be authentic and reflective of the two directors that run it. Sister Snog’s core values are discerning, effective, perceptive, pragmatic (head/rational). It’s engaging, sassy, surprising, stylish (heart/emotional) and meticulous, refreshing, remarkable, unconventional (gut/instinctive). And although all three of us (Snog/Hela/Annie) share core values we all have unique personalities, which differentiate us. There are of course subtle differences. For example, the business brand likes to wear lilac and violet clothing and I like to wear red! However the point I’m making is that if Hela and Annie were not discerning (as one example) then neither could Sister Snog be considered discerning.

3) They use inspiration and also inspire each other.

Hela: I am constantly inspired by people and their lives and love to read biographies and diaries. But what truly inspires are the stories of ordinary folk who ended up doing extraordinary things. One day I’d like to write a book from the heart that tells my story so I can also be an inspiration.

Photo Hela 01(1) Photo Annie 01

Hela Wozniak-Kay (left) and Annie Brooks (right) of Sister Snog
Photographer: Annie Armitage of www.anniearmitage.com

Annie: My business partner Hela Wozniak-Kay has inspired me over the years since I’ve met her and continues to do so. She’s a brilliant creative thinker. Hela’s very good at looking at the big picture and spotting an opportunity. She can turn any negative into a positive. She’s got great nurturing and people skills too. I also love her tenacity; she’s like a little Jack Russell. And I can’t forget her hilarious sense of humour. We are definitely on the same beam.

4) They shine when together.

Annie: I’m at my personal best when I’m with the right people. I’m happiest when running a successful event (with Hela) for my clients (The Sisters). And when I’m in a positive environment. I’ve been working recently at distancing myself from negativity in my life. If someone or something isn’t beautiful then I just say no!

Hela: I shine when I’m in the company of like-minded individuals who I can bounce off and who bounce off me. Whether that’s friends, family or work colleagues. I have to feel the love in order to reciprocate the love.

5) They find meaning and fulfillment in working together.

Annie explains: I couldn’t do it on my own and Hela says the same. When you have a symbiotic business partnership anything is possible. Helping others to succeed gives me great pleasure – Sister Snog is a great facilitator in this as it brings people together. None of us are an island and we need the help of others to succeed in business.


…and that’s the remarkable Hela Wozniak-Kay and Annie Brooks, who form the amazing power co-brand behind Sister Snog. I hope they’ve managed to inspire you as much as they have me!



3 thoughts on “What’s in a “Power Co-Brand”? Lessons from a Yin-Yang partnership”

  1. A business partnership tests a friendship to the limit and these ladies prove that different personality traits and strengths can be a winning formula.

  2. Annie Brooks says:

    You are so right Natalie. Hela & I were friends first and have been in business together since 2001. We have had testing times over the years but I believe that we’ve always put our friendship first. Which has actually enabled us to make sensible business decisions. The yin/yang also helps because it gives us a 360 degree perspective on everything.

  3. Although I work on my own by choice, there are times when I look at Hela and Annie and feel very envious. They seem to re-energise each other, and I think their ability to be upfront and tell it like it is helps them negotiate any tricky waters. As s partnership, I can’t think of better role models.

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