Young Upstarts

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BrandStory Inc: Every Brand Tells A Story

Behind every brand is a unique story and Asia-based branding agency BrandStory Inc aims to tell these stories.

According to its managing director Reene Ho-Phang, brands exist only in the minds of consumers. Hence, BrandStory is not merely your usual brand communications agency; rather, Reene believes in collaborating with clients as partners to build and nurture the personalities of their brands.

With its beginnings in China and its unique strength of bilingualism, BrandStory aims to bridge language and cultural gaps for clients venturing into the Chinese market. Established for just less than ten years, BrandStory already boasts an impressive portfolio with clients such as Clinique and Club Med.

Unfaltering Vision and Strong Conviction

Reene believes that one of the keys to her success in creating BrandStory is her ability to remain focused on her vision and keep out negative thoughts or opinions. “Often, family members and close friends would dish out advice, sometimes in a negative way. You just have to understand and acknowledge that it’s because they want to protect you, but ultimately, you must stand firm. That being said, you must also remain open-minded to accept constructive advice,” she says. Her husband’s unwavering support was also crucial for her. What really impressed me was her strong conviction and desire to succeed. When asked how she came to realise that the business would be able to make it, she says, “We knew that we will make it from the start. We did not doubt that it could not be done. The question was how.”

Betting on China

Reene recalls that one of the key challenges she faced was financial management. With limited funds in the early days, she had to decide where the best place to put her capital was. In the end, she betted on China, and it turned out to be the right decision. “For those who are venturing into China, remember that you cannot simply believe anything you see, hear, or even eat. Verify everything!” she advises. She also stresses the importance of networks and guidance from people who already have experience with the Chinese markets.

The “Right” People

Reene feels that it is essential to work with the “right” people. “We do not work well with marketers with a short-term mindset, who are only trying to milk the brand dry. Sometimes, we have to reject such clients and focus our efforts on those with a mid to long-term perspective.”

Acting on the Passion

Reene’s best advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to stop talking and take action, “Don’t wait till you have the perfect business plan before you begin: things will always be imperfect and you will never get around to doing anything!” For Reene, being an entrepreneur means a chance to live her passion but she warns, “Your passion must be strong enough to overcome and push you through negative times such as experiencing multiple disappointments, being in a lonely position with no colleagues, having to do everything yourself, and competing with the big established players.” She also emphasizes the need for deep financial pockets. “Start saving up. You have to be able to withstand living with very little.”

The ever energetic lady with a global mindset hopes to see BrandStory evolving into an outstanding agency known to the world with international clients in five to ten years time. All the best, Reene!

With a business and social sciences background, contributing writer Sim Yee is constantly intrigued and inspired by entrepreneurs and their enterprises, as well as the social environment in which they thrive. She loves checking out new places, products/services, and meeting the people behind these. She is particularly interested in social entrepreneurship, writing, self-help, F&B and the arts. Contact her at simyee.ho.2007 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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