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NOKUA's Rising Star: Joe Hui

The creative savant of the future.

By Andy Lai

Being the brand consultant of NOKUA with over 8 years of experience gives Joe a unique insight into understanding how each brand works and what each brand needs in order to succeed in this increasingly competitive market.

As a major creative force that helped NOKUA win numerous awards and accolades, Joe has proven himself to be a rising star in the Malaysian creative industry.

He also doubled as a judge for international awards such as Muse Awards, Telly Awards, Vega Digital Awards and GlobalTrend Awards.

In this month’s NOKUA Star, we want our very own creative savant to spill his secrets of success to the world.

The importance of brand voice

Having a brand voice is essential, as your brand image and brand identity correlates directly to how your audiences look and feel your brand.

“The most important thing about the brand has always been about the brand voice, you know. The emotional touch of it. Without it, your brand only be remembered for being cheap or expensive, nothing else.”

Joe’s first lines in this interview would continue to reverberate and resurface in different forms, emphasising on the importance of having a brand identity whenever he has an opportunity to do so.

“Giving your brand a voice, an emotion of some sort elevates your brand for your targeted audiences.”

According to Joe, having a brand voice was akin to letting the brand adopt a fancy language that can attract the appropriate audiences. It can also be used as a measuring device to tap into the preferences of your audiences and see what they prefer or dislike about your brand.

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Brand trends of the future

To be fully effective in branding your products or services, learning the brand trends of 2020 allows you to anticipate how your brand can properly target your audiences.

1. Modernizing your storytelling digitally

“It’s all about storytelling in 2020. If you want your brand to be a cut above the rest, you need to have a strategic way of presenting your storytelling digitally. You need to modernize your brand so that you can convey your messages through various mediums. With so many of the audiences getting accustomed to search for brand profiles digitally, it is imperative that you push your brand storytelling to messaging platforms and social media sites as well.”

Future brand trends will also revolve around personalization, something that Joe said was not done for brands until recently.

One of the biggest trends of the future is storytelling, where a brand can take a consumer to a journey they can never forget.

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2. Personalizing your products and services

“With so many brands coming out of the blue, it is difficult to upstage your competitors that easily. Many brands are already opting for individualizing their products or services to the audiences.” Joe said.

“For example, we can take a look at Adidas. Adidas has Adidas itself, where it sells sportswear and the like, and Adidas Originals, where it sells streetwear for the aspiring ‘hypebeasts’. You can even customize how your shirts look like and add your own name to it! I can foresee each brand going for customization and allowing the audiences to have more choices.”

Adidas has rebranded itself into two factions, successfully hitting it off with two completely different demographics. Credit: shutterstock.com
3. Bridging through authenticity

Authenticity is key in branding right now. When creating content, many brands will have to consider if the content allows their product or service to be legitimized by the target audiences or not. With the Internet, it is easier for many of the public to become a storyteller, to leave reviews for your brand. Once authenticity is confirmed, you can then bridge your brand with your audiences, creating trust and loyalty.”

4. Artificial Intelligence

"Artificial intelligence is taking over the world right now. From chat bots to algorithms that could make or break your brands on Google or any other social media, there are just too many factors that could affect the way you conduct your business. I can predict that artificial intelligence will play an even bigger part in branding in the next few years, maybe even take over some jobs in the process."

5. An increase in marketing budget

"There's just simply way too many ways for you to play around branding, and many companies are already putting more budget into their marketing methods. The more money you place into the marketing budget, the higher your chances of your brand can be fleshed out in the public. The (marketing) budget will determine how you operate your business and how much you really want your product and services to be seen."

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While branding can go either way, going digital is usually the best way to go.

Digital branding is key

Utilizing your website or other online sites is vital in establishing legitimacy for your brand.

Joe was already on his phone, his fingers quickly disappearing into a vortex of alphabets he had typed on his phone. By the time he was done, a slew of messages began to appear on his phone once more.

“It all boils down to brand image again, but this time, you have to think outside the box and step into the shoes of your clients or consumers and ask yourself this question: how can I truly relate to this brand?” Joe said, ignoring the cacophony of noises coming from his phone.

“Nowadays, consumers want to have a relationship with the brand. Whether it be CSR completed by the brand or dedicating to a cause like being environmentally friendly, you are always going to want to be relatable, to be similar to the thoughts of what your consumers actually are.” Joe continued on.

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While branding can go either way, going digital is usually the best way to go.

When asked about how to brand a credible reputation digitally, Joe concluded that content and visuals play a part in building credibility for the brand.

You definitely want to let your consumers have the perfect, seamless experience when they are visiting your social media sites or your website itself. I would say that 70% of your focus must be on the visuals, where it must be visually appealing and the rest (30%) should go to content and layout.” Joe said.

“Look at Nike, for example. It’s an established brand, so all it needs to do is just to flesh out its logo when their products are out on their website. The content and layout are only complimentary to the product and the logo. No matter how sleek or how unique their product designs are, all people care about is the brand, and Nike’s main website has achieved that tremendously.”

Becoming a branding professional

When asked about the transition from a designer to a fully professional brand consultant, Joe smiled wryly.

Joe’s journey to become one of Malaysia’s leading brand consultants was not smooth sailing, to say the least. He had to get used to meeting clients on a daily basis, with a constant flow of emails, text messages and phone calls enveloping his personal time even after work hours.

“I remember this travel agency I was advising back when I first started. Most travel agencies wanted to make their travel destinations and number of packages as their main priority, slapping them all over their marketing material, and this particular agency is no exception as well.”

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Just another regular day for the savant himself.

“I wanted their brand values to be shown right from the start, and that was what I did. I placed more emphasis on the notion of spending more time with your loved ones and all the memories you can get from it.” Joe continued. “By the end of the rebranding, not only did the client liked the idea, it also gained them a lot of new customers as well. It was very satisfying for me!”

It is all about the feel, the emotions that that the brand can evoke out from their products and services. Once you capture that feeling, it will never be lost.” Joe said.

Curtain call

Relishing in his newfound role as a father (his wife had just given birth to a baby daughter the week of the interview), Joe mentioned that this life changing event made him discover more about what it meant to be a brand consultant in NOKUA.

“It changes you, you know. Fatherhood really changes you."

"I feel much more confident now, even when there are more responsibilities in my life. Crazy, I know, but I just feel… Empowered, really. I want to set a good example for my kid to follow when she grows up.”

A true savant, both at work and at home.

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