INTERVIEW Rita Clifton

A masterclass with the brand-building suprema

If you’re wondering what the ultimate CV looks like, they don’t come much more impressive than the redoubtable Rita Clifton’s, guest moderator at the LINK Jewelry Talk at Baselworld in Switzerland hosted by Swarovski and organized by the International New York Times, which took place in March. Today, she’s counted among the world’s most respected experts on branding—in fact, she has become a brand in her own right.

Voted one of the 75 Women of Achievement in the fields of advertising, media, and marketing over the past 75 years, British-born Rita Clifton is a doyenne of branding whose skills and judgment have turned around the image of many a global business.

London Chief Executive/Chairman at Interbrand, the world's leading brand consultancy, from 1997 to 2012, before that she was Vice Chairman/Strategic Director at Saatchi & Saatchi. She’s a frequent guest on TV and radio as a business, marketing, and communication consultant; she’s the go-to keynote speaker on leadership, corporate reputation, and innovation; and she’s also a best-selling author, reviewer, and columnist.

As a child with early aspirations to be a ballet dancer, Clifton explains her extraordinary journey with genial self-deprecation: “You need gazelle-like legs to be a dancer—I didn't have them, so I went to grammar school instead.” Following graduation from Cambridge University, she joined an advertising agency because “it looked like a sexy business—although it was highly ironic that my first accounts were Steradent and Harpic.” This humble beginning seeded her lifelong love affair with the art and science of branding. “It's what gets me up in the morning. It’s not just about logos and titles—a strong brand generates long-term wealth. If a company is decent, producing what people want, and living up to its promises, consumers will vote for it with their wallets.”

Her passion for image extends to the individual, but it’s far from a superficial theory. “Think of yourself as a brand in the fullest sense—i.e. behavior, values, skills development, and knowledge—not just looking and sounding the part.” So what would she say are the key qualities to her own success? “I worked really hard and just got on with it. You need a positive attitude and to be nice to people. Overall, I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find something I enjoyed and was good at.”

For further information on the LINK Jewelry Talk please visit: WWW.LINKJEWELRYSUMMIT.COM

Rita Clifton
Swarovski Crystals Magazine #01 - Everyday Extraordinary

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