Media Coverage | Asia Times Interview with Annabella: How to shape a successful branding agency?
Republish article from the Asia Times News : http://atimescn.com/mobile/expertView-15526.html
Having been engaged in the branding industry for years, Annabella Zhuang’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to found her own firm upon realizing that the branding industry was ripe for disruption. After graduating from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2013 with a major in public communication, Annabella began her career in a marketing firm in Science Park.
After working with various branding and design firms, the more she realized an opportunity within the Mainland Chinese market. In particular, the lack of understanding of the Mainland China market often leads to common failures in localization, where brand stories often fail to resonate with end-users.
In 2014, Annabella launched DSIGN with a bid to reconcile the Hong Kong marketing industry. Over the years, DSIGN has transformed from a design studio into a branding and consulting agency, specializing in Hong Kong-Mainland as well as international projects.
Design Thinking Brand Strategy
Annabella, as a nit-picking explorer has soon found another misconception about branding and design; businesses commonly assume that brand design is just a logo and a copy of another brand’s visual identity, while overlooking the importance of brand story, language, and strategy. Annabella upholds the belief that branding is a long-term process in creating comprehensive visual aesthetics which cannot be accomplished solely by a one-off Logo or VI design. Annabella sees design as a tool in branding and defines brand DNA as the foundation in long-term business development. Together, design and branding can be one of the highest ROIs (return on investment) for businesses.
To distinguish DSIGN from brand value co-creation, Annabella adapts the ideology of design thinking into a brand strategy, by seeking to provide innovative and people-oriented solutions to facilitate clients’ needs at the highest level.
With DSIGN, Annabella hopes that the Hong Kong branding industry may have a more mature set of business standards in the near future. Annabella foresees that people will gradually realize that brand structure is not only limited to design but also encompasses strategic brand asset evaluation, brand research, brand framework building, and other services.
Despite the strengths of DSIGN laying in brand design and strategy consulting, digital marketing and branding communication actually indicate the highest percentage of company revenue. Annabella frankly admitted that achieving a balance between “strengths” and “profit” is the main challenge for DSIGN. Yet, DSIGN strives to become an integrated branding and consulting agency, with the ultimate goal of achieving high-profit margins and creating a unique recognition of the brand.
DSIGN’s brand path in the Post-COVID Era
While facing instability of the global economic environment and uncertainties under the relentless pandemic situation this year, every business seems to be held on and on. Yet Annabella believes that this stagnation actually provides an excellent opportunity for DSIGN to reflect, review and redefine metrics to optimize business development, including organizational restructuring, personnel training, core business positioning, among others. In terms of the business plan for the post-COVID era, Annabella shared with Asia Times Finance her goals and expectation for DSIGN. Firstly, she is keen to expand the employee size by 4 times to approximately 20 employees, with 80% of them being capable of providing brand consulting services and solving problems for customers accurately. Secondly, DSIGN is seeking a transformation upgrade in the next few years, where she is confident that DSIGN will become a Hong Kong top-leading branding and consulting agency in 3-years-time.
Last but not least, the support and hard work of her team and partners are crucial in motivating her on her entrepreneurial journey. Annabella will continue exploring and enriching her brand service concept to develop DSIGN’s brand road in the post-COVID era.
Edited by DSIGN Team
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