The grand finale: Base partner Geoff Cook and head of digital, Martin Bravo talk at Digital October on brand x technology. The presentation, “Brands Are Like People,” can be viewed at the bottom of this page in its entirety.

After a midday regroup, we set out for the final event. Due to rush hour traffic, we decided to take the subway to Digital October. The station let us out at the foot of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The history of the church is fascinating. Initially built in 1860 by order of Alexander I, the church was ordered torn down by Stalin in 1930. In its place, Stalin had wanted to construct an administrative center and congress hall called the Palace of the Soviets . However, as the church sits on the bank of the Moscow river, the ground would not support the proposed structure, so the grounds sat empty until under Khrushchev the largest open air swimming pool in the world was built. Given the climate, the pool proved a bit impractical and in 1990 the church was rebuilt as an exact replica of the original with donations from over 1 million Moscovites. It is (obviously) stunning.

From there, one must cross an equally gorgeous foot bridge to arrive at Bolotny Island that houses Digital October. Their offices are situated in the old “Red October” chocolate factory (red buildings). The Pirates of the Caribbean-looking black statue behind the former chocolate factory is of Peter the Great. Despite being the 8th tallest statue in the world, it is also consistently voted one of the world’s ugliest.

View of Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The footbridge was constructed in 2003-4.

Digital October is housed in the building at the back, right.

Entrance to the Digital October offices.

The stairwell is dedicated to significant moments in tech history.

Inside, Geoff was greeted by Yulia Lesnikova (left), director of educational programs at Digital October, and her colleague, Anna Gilyova.

Digital October can only be described as one of the coolest, most awesomest organizations we have ever come across. It’s entire mission is to further technology in Russia. An enormous complex containing auditoriums, offices, public spaces all with state of the art technology, Digital October can best be described as part entrepreneurial hot bed, part think tank, part educational source. For a virtual tour, click here

Later during his speech, Geoff was asked what he thought about this Digital October brand. “On this island, I feel that this [complex] is the gem of Moscow. It’s as if we’re in Vatican City,” Geoff replied, “And as for what I think about the Digital October brand? I feel like it is the future of Russia, happening right here before us.”

Digital October‘s “Educational Stream” speaking series pairs a main speaker (Geoff) with a remote partner (in our case, Martin, head of digital at Base)

Backstage, a highly professional crew of five were helping to prepare the talk.

Showtime! Once onstage, Geoff discussed how through identity, personality and experience, the way we interact with brands is much the same as the way we interact with people… regardless of whether the brand is on or offline.

A crowd-pleasing moment. In their speech, Geoff & Martin strived to demonstrate how brands are like people. To prove the point, Geoff asked that everyone in the audience “stand up and have a conversation with people around you.” As members of the audience were talking, Geoff asked, “How are the people in front of you dressed? What might this tell you about the person? What are they like? Cool? Not cool? How is the experience you’re having, talking back and forth?” Of course all were metaphors… for identity, personality, and experience.

Geoff led the presentation from the stage while Martin joined virtually with technical expertise and commentary.

Following the talk and Q&A from the audience, Geoff moderated a panel of leading minds in Moscow (appearing left to right):
- Igor Pashanin, CEO of Fabrika Okon. Very similar to the Zappos model, Fabrika Okon sells and installs windows driven primarily by the highest level of customer service.
- Maria Lapuk of Odnoklassniki. The #2 social network in Russia behind VKontakte, Odnoklassniki is a highly trusted network used primarily by parents and young children.
- Masha Drokova of leading venture capital firm, Runa Capital
- Mikhail Ushakov, CEO of Metabar. Formerly a high level member of Yandex (Russian equivalent of Google), Mikael left to create Metabar, which creates leading browser apps.
and remotely
- Yaroslov Trofimov, CEO of Inspire Ukraine, a branding agency based in Odessa.

With the lights of Moscow shining down upon us, our last event came to a close…and our trip along with it. It had been an extraordinary week. A special thanks to all those we met this week. And to our readers, should you ever have the occasion to visit Moscow, do so. It is one phenomenal city.