Yetty Oyinlola Ogunnubi is an esteemed leader in brand development, public relations, and marketing, earning her reputation as CEO of The YD Company, a leading hybrid public relations firm in Lagos that recently won AI Business Excellence Award as the Most Unique PR & Communications Agency in 2023. With almost two decades of experience under her belt, she has devoted herself to being a key figure in the hospitality, fashion, arts, and corporate sectors. Yetty’s skill set spans strategic PR, marketing, creative image branding, project management, and event coordination. She continues to lead successful publicity projects for SMEs, corporate entities, and governments alike with finesse, promoting both emerging and established brands in her field. In this interview with Ifeoma Okeke-Korieocha, she speaks on how her inspiration came from fusion of my artistic background and international exposure and how she has defied stereotypes with a strong sense of self-belief, resilience, and a refusal to be limited by societal expectations.
What inspired you to set up The YD Company, a leading hybrid public relations firm in Lagos and when did you set it up?
The inception of The YD Company was a culmination of my deep-rooted passion for creativity and communication. Having worked in various capacities within the Creative, PR and marketing industry, I felt a growing desire to create a platform that would truly reflect my vision for transformative brand development and strategic communication. It was in 2016 that I decided to take the bold step and establish YD Agency now The YD Company in Nigeria.
My inspiration came from a fusion of my artistic background, international exposure, and the realisation that there was an evolving need for innovative PR approaches tailored to the unique African landscape. I wanted to bring my expertise back to my roots and contribute to the growth and elevation of businesses across various sectors in Nigeria and beyond.
Your brand development and PR work are focused on hospitality, fashion, arts, and corporate sectors. Was it a deliberate focus on these key sectors, or did it happen by chance?
The focus on these sectors wasn’t a mere coincidence; rather, it was a carefully curated strategy based on a combination of my personal interests, professional experiences, and a keen understanding of market trends. My upbringing both in Lagos, Ogun state and London exposed me to the rich tapestry of art, fashion, and vibrant culture, which naturally nurtured my affinity for these fields. Moreover, having worked on numerous successful projects in these sectors, I recognized the potential to make a substantial impact and fill a niche in the market.
Did your upbringing influence your choice of career, or did you just find yourself in the business of PR?
My upbringing played a pivotal role in shaping my career path. I was born into a family of artists, and from a young age, I was immersed in the world of creativity and self-expression. This upbringing instilled in me a deep appreciation for art, design, and aesthetics. Additionally, my experiences in London, where I was exposed to diverse cultures and cutting-edge fashion, further fueled my passion for communication and branding. So, in a way, it can be said that I followed a path that felt like a natural extension of my background and interests.
Can you take us through the journey of building your brand today, including challenges and opportunities?
The journey of building The YD Company has been a remarkable one, filled with both challenges and opportunities that have helped shape the agency’s identity. Starting out, I encountered the challenge of establishing credibility in a highly competitive industry, especially as a woman. However, I leveraged my extensive experience and focused on delivering exceptional results, which gradually earned the trust of clients. Opportunities emerged as I collaborated with visionary clients who believed in my strategic approach and creativity. These collaborations allowed me to showcase my unique methods and build a strong portfolio. Over time, networking and word-of-mouth referrals became significant drivers of growth for the company. Challenges, such as navigating economic fluctuations and adapting to ever-evolving digital landscapes, have spurred us to continuously innovate and refine our strategies.
As Nigeria’s economy continues to face challenges and clients seek more affordable services, how do you balance offering top-notch services while keeping them affordable?
The economic climate indeed presents its challenges, but I firmly believe that quality should never be compromised. To strike this balance, The YD Company employs a multi-faceted approach. We prioritise efficiency and resource management, ensuring that every aspect of our services adds genuine value to our clients. Embracing technology has also allowed us to optimize processes and streamline costs without compromising on excellence.
Moreover, we offer customized solutions that cater to the specific needs and budgets of our clients. This personalized approach helps us deliver results-driven campaigns while ensuring that the client’s investment is maximized. It’s about striking the right balance between innovation, efficiency, and client satisfaction.
Who are your role models and why?
One individual who has profoundly shaped my life and serves as my ultimate role model is my mother. She has been a constant source of inspiration, strength, and unwavering support throughout my journey. Her resilience, compassion, and dedication to her family and community have left an indelible mark on me. Growing up in a family of artists, my mother’s creativity and artistic talents were not just limited to her work but extended to the way she approached life. Her ability to find beauty in the everyday and transform the mundane into something extraordinary taught me the value of perspective and the importance of nurturing one’s creativity.
But beyond her artistic endeavors, it’s her kindness, empathy, and ability to uplift others that truly set her apart. She instilled in me the belief that success is not just about personal achievements, but about the positive impact we make on the lives of those around us.
My mother’s influence is interwoven into every aspect of my life and career. She continues to be my guiding light, reminding me to stay grounded, remain authentic, and always extend a helping hand to those in need. She embodies the values I strive to uphold, and her legacy fuels my passion for creativity, community engagement, and making a meaningful impact.
You have achieved a lot as a woman and built a client base that is quite admirable. How were you able to defy stereotypes to build a PR empire as a woman?
Defying stereotypes has been a transformative journey, one that requires a strong sense of self-belief, resilience, and a refusal to be limited by societal expectations. While the PR industry has traditionally been male-dominated, I embraced my uniqueness as a woman and positioned it as a strength. Instead of viewing my gender as an obstacle, I harnessed it to bring fresh perspectives, creative approaches, and a deeper understanding of evolving trends.
I have always been results-oriented, and I focused on consistently delivering exceptional outcomes. My commitment to continuous learning and staying ahead of industry trends allowed me to build a reputation as a forward-thinking professional who brings innovative solutions to the table. Ultimately, by demonstrating my expertise and consistently exceeding expectations, I was able to shatter preconceived notions and establish myself as a leader in the industry.
Were there times when clients became skeptical of your ability to deliver on services simply because you are female? When this happens, what is often your response, and how do you prove beyond reasonable doubt that you can deliver on the job?
Yes, there have been instances where clients initially had reservations due to my gender. However, I’ve always approached such situations with a mix of grace, confidence, and the undeniable results my team and I can provide. I make it a priority to establish a strong rapport with clients, engaging in open conversations to address any concerns they might have. By demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of their needs and showcasing case studies of successful projects, I prove that my capabilities are not determined by my gender but by my track record and expertise.
Moreover, I believe that actions speak louder than words. Through strategic planning, meticulous execution, and consistently surpassing their expectations, I’ve consistently transformed skepticism into trust and admiration. It’s about consistently showcasing the value we bring and emphasizing that my team’s gender doesn’t hinder our ability to excel.
What specifically differentiates The YD Company from other PR firms offering brand development, public relations, and marketing services?
The YD Company stands out due to our hybrid approach that blends creativity, strategic thinking, and a deep understanding of both global trends and local dynamics. Our commitment to staying at the forefront of industry shifts ensures that our strategies are not only innovative but also adaptable to changing landscapes.
Additionally, our dedication to personalized service sets us apart. We take the time to genuinely understand our clients’ goals, values, and unique challenges, tailoring our solutions to align with their brand identity. This holistic approach, combined with our experience across diverse sectors, positions us to deliver comprehensive campaigns that transcend traditional PR methods.
Lastly, our emphasis on social impact and community engagement underscores our commitment to making a difference beyond business transactions. This is reflected in our involvement with various philanthropic initiatives and our dedication to nurturing young talent through the YD Foundation.
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Any plans to diversify into other things in the nearest future?
Indeed, the world of communication is ever-evolving, and I am always exploring new avenues to expand the scope of The YD Company’s influence. While our core focus remains on brand development, PR, and marketing communications, I am deeply interested in harnessing emerging technologies, such as AI and virtual reality, to further enhance our services. Additionally, I am passionate about exploring opportunities to amplify voices through multimedia platforms, such as podcasts and video content, to create more dynamic and engaging storytelling experiences.
Also as an ardent creative, art, and fashion enthusiast, I am deeply passionate about creating platforms for creative individuals. Currently, I am actively involved in the development of one of my brands, FashionEVO, which will be revealed later this year. Stay tuned for exciting updates!
Do you have any regrets you wished that if you were able to turn back the hands of time, you’d be able to fix?
Regrets are part of any journey, as they offer opportunities for growth and learning. Looking back, I might say that I wish I had embraced risk-taking earlier in my career. There were moments when I hesitated to pursue certain ventures due to fear of failure or stepping out of my comfort zone. However, I’ve come to understand that growth often emerges from taking calculated risks and stepping into the unknown. These experiences shape resilience, innovation, and a broader perspective.
However, I also firmly believe that every decision I’ve made, even those I might initially label as “regrets,” has contributed to my personal and professional development. They’ve taught me valuable lessons, pushed me to adapt, and have ultimately led me to where I am today.
Where do you see The YD Company in the next 10 years?
In the next 10 years, I envision The YD Company as a trailblazing global entity, recognized not only for its creative excellence but also for its contributions to shaping the narratives of brands and communities around the world. I see us pioneering innovative strategies that seamlessly integrate technology and creativity to deliver unparalleled value to our clients. Our commitment to social impact will continue to expand, with initiatives that empower individuals and uplift communities. Furthermore, I believe The YD Company will be a hub for fostering young talents and nurturing the next generation of communicators and PR leaders. As we grow, we will maintain our personalized approach, ensuring that every client’s journey with us is transformative and tailored to their unique aspirations.
Ultimately, my vision is for The YD Company to be synonymous with transformative storytelling, strategic innovation, and a force for positive change on a global scale. Just as our journey thus far has been defined by passion and commitment, our future will be marked by unwavering dedication to excellence and the empowerment of others.