corporate and brand strategy for global creative companies

SRETSIS, Thailand's Legendary Fashion Brand

In my role as a Strategist, I helped align executive goals around a global marketing strategy and lead an eCommerce replatforming.

PROBLEM SRETSIS (sisters backward) wanted to become an international brand with a strong foothold in the US.

INSIGHTS The company, Thailand’s premier women’s fashion brand run by three creative sisters, had a showroom presence in LA 10 years earlier but it didn’t work out. Across the world, there wasn’t ample evidence that press and celebrity buzz was driving sales for mid-priced companies. Sretsis web sales for the company were below industry standard. The brand had an impeccable product identity that their online presence wasn’t matching.

PROVOCATION How can we use a limited budget to maximize global impact from Thailand?

ACTION Avoid investing in PR agencies or showrooms in the US. Instead, focus energy on building a strong website with the teeth to convert viewers, while building a digital marketing campaign to drive traffic. Ignoring big budget celebrity affiliations, we worked with micro-influencers to promote on their Instagram. I brought in rigorous data measurement and benchmarks to track success and bring site management up to international standards.

LESSONS LEARNED With an aggressive microinfluencer campaign we could reach 4 million people around the world just for the cost of shipping the clothes. In a creative company that values radical expressivity, building a website that functions as a store requires important compromises in vision. Technical conversations tend to distract from more important business topics. Be clear about what I do and what I don’t do; as the first non-Thai hired by the company, my role wasn’t always obvious to members of the team. I worked to bring clarity and build trust. Even if you’re crazy busy, always go to lunch with coworkers. In long meetings, allow the team to speak in their first language, even if you don’t know it, and always stay patient and attentive. Be a keen observer of office dynamics but stay focused on the value you add. Be willing to teach people your practices and ways of thinking, be eager to learn theirs. Everyone wants to learn.

Fourteen Cycles, a Cycling Brand from Thailand

Fourteen Cycles

As a business design consultant for Fourteen Cycles I lead a company rebrand, brought new products to market, and launched an expansion to the Korean market.

PROBLEM Fourteen Cycles wanted to expand in the crowded Korean market but lacked a story to stand out.

INSIGHTS The company’s product quality was extremely high, and so was their price point. Almost all emerging brands entered the space with the same story and Fourteen was no different. Moreover, the name didn’t mean anything specific and wasn’t helping. Their original story went something like this: we have the best carbon fiber technology and a superior product. However, I noticed that riders in Korea were not riding just for competition or exercise, it was a social performance. They loved to ride in clubs, talk about cycling, and show off gear. Moreover, the Korean market was rapidly embracing fashion and art driven brands in other product sectors.

PROVOCATION How can we differentiate Fourteen in Korea by transforming it into an art cycling brand?

ACTION First, I refocused our story around the combination of Technology + Humanity. We’d be the company that brought emotion and art to a rigidly technical marketplace, without compromising on performance. A major challenge was to invent a reason for the name, Fourteen. The original story was that 14 people had wanted to start a company together and now there were only 2 left. Yikes! So I thought about what else Fourteen could mean. We looked to the periodic table for inspiration and found it. What two elements best defined our brand position of Technology + Humanity. Technology was defined by innovations in carbon fiber, so that would be Carbon – number 6 on the periodic table. Humanity was best represented by Oxygen, number 8. Suddenly, Technology + Humanity equaled Fourteen. Once the brand was redefined, we build a completely new website with the graphic design company Think-Make. If we wanted to be an art cycling company, we needed to actually commit to art, so we contracted artists and designers in New York to design new bike paints. Then, I traveled to Seoul to pitch the idea to 6 of the top bike distributors. We came back with multiple offers. From start to finish, we entered the Korean market in only four months.

LESSONS LEARNED Listen to what the consumer is really saying. Locate the underlying motivations for why a consumer behaves in a certain way. Integrate the brand story into the product design; branding is only as good as the products you make. When I’m not a subject matter expert, talk to as many people as I can, read a ton, and stay humble.