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girl boss: CAROLYN MILLER FROM GRUEN

Nikki Yazxhi

MARKETING AND ADVERTISING MAVEN, CAROLYN MILLER IS ONE OF OUR FAVE PANELLISTS ON ABC’S GRUEN PROGRAM – SHE’S ALSO A KEY SPEAKER AT CREATIVE3, THE AWARDS {get there if you can!}…
We chatted with her before the awards to find out more about her work and what inspires her…


Creative3 is an annual showcase of the country’s creative industries and marks its 10th anniversary with The Awards, a celebration of Australia’s trailblazers and rising stars on 3 October 2019. Following a competitive nomination and selection process, 12 finalists have been announced across four categories with public voting now open to elect winners.

A respected industry strategist with more than 20 years’ experience, Carolyn is also a regular panellist on ABC’s Gruen program and is one of the world-leading experts who will share her branding insights at the awards…

We asked Carolyn the bellamumma questions to find out more about what makes her tick, and how the advertising landscape has changed…

You, in three words? Optimistic, Realistic and Tall (I’m 6’2)

What inspires you? People who are determined and resilient. We often only see the success stories of most people, I actually find the failures and how people overcame adverse situations to be far more inspiring than simply the wins.

What was your first ever job? KFC. I joined when I was 15, which regrettably coincided when I stopped swimming training. So gained about 10kg overnight! But aside from that it was a great job – met a whole new range of friends and learnt how to juggle multiple responsibilities at once.

What did you want to be ‘when you were little’ An adult. I hated not being in charge of my own life as a child and couldn’t wait to grow up and take control.

How did your career start? By accident. I was studying Communications at Uni and thought I was going to be journalist, but then I saw an ad in a media agency for someone who was still studying (I switched to part-time study and decided to give it a go. And so my career in advertising began.

How important is branding to yourself, your business? Hugely – it creates distinction from other competitive businesses, and allows me to reflect on what I am striving for in my own business. Having a brand gives anchorage to what your business stands for – what you stand for and how you want to make your mark. It makes your purpose clear and your decisions easier, as you have real clarity about your direction. It also makes it easier for potential clients to recognise if you are a good fit for them, having good alignment between a client and the agency is critical for ongoing success.

What are three key elements to consider when branding? Your personality; What you fight for;  What makes you unique. But there are a lot of other things to consider as well – your history, your values, your mission etc.

What are the misconceptions about creating a brand That it’s a design process. Building a brand is very much a strategic process – only when you have your brand strategy can you then start designing logos and ads.

How has the advertising landscape changed since you first started? Hugely – digital has flipped the world upside down! In a way it has made it far more democratic, social media, digital ad buying etc being something that smaller businesses can do themselves. Although there is a lot of wastage even in digital – I have seen a report that suggests up to 50% of digital ad results are made up of bots (rather than humans). So, it is so much harder to reach an audience. When I first started in advertising, you could put a TV ad on in the Sunday Movie and guarantee that 50% of your target audience would see it. That’s definitely not the case now.

Explain your usual day? Exercise, Work, Cook, Read, Sleep. Thankfully I have a variety of clients I really enjoy working with, so my days feel quite varied. I also travel a bit for conferences and interstate meetings, so there is often a disruption to my workday cycles. I save my socialising for the weekends now – I’m too exhausted by mid-week these days! I might make an exception for something (or someone) extra special.

What ‘makes your day’? An unexpected message or contact from a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. It’s always welcome, and it’s lovely to know that people you care about also care about you.

Three things in your life you can’t live without? My family, my handbag (it’s a Tardis containing all I need to exist), and a clean, comfortable bed at the end of the day. I’m not a camper.

4 fave songs on your iPod? Get-up – Young Fathers; Thunder – Imagine Dragons; Glitter & Gold – Barns Courtney; Dance – Rolling Stones.

Fave place to escape to? Tasmania. It’s truly a beautiful place and I love the vibrancy of the arts scene in Hobart (especially during the Dark Mofo festival).

How do you relax? Swimming. I’m convinced it’s a form of meditation. 

Best life advice you’ve received?Try and understa nd the other person’s point of view – don’t listen to respond. Listen to understand. 

What career advice would you give to the Creative3 finalists? Stay true to what you stand for, but stay in touch with the market and social currents. Everything is always evolving, so never assume that what is right for today will be right for tomorrow.

What will you be In five years time? A writer. In addition to my day job, I have a yearning to publish my own novel. I keep putting it off and need to make the commitment to get it done!

Carolyn will be speaking at these awards – get your tix so you don’t miss out!

the details:

When: 3 October 2019, 1pm – 6pm
Where: Brisbane Powerhouse
Tickets: NOW $49 – apply code Creative50 at checkout
Finger-food and drinks provided

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR TICKETS

Voting in Creative3 The Awards closes on 29 September 2019 (11:59PM AEST).
Winners will be announced at the annual Creative3 event at Brisbane Powerhouse on 3 October 2019 from 1pm – 6pm.