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Global Brand Summit Asia: How branding gurus of Parable Studios, Anonymous, and Studio Ensemble get it done

Global Brand Summit Asia: How branding gurus of Parable Studios, Anonymous, and Studio Ensemble get it done

Design thinking

Text: Aravin Sandran


Singapore-based branding and design studios Studio Ensemble, Parable Studio, and Anonymous have created outstanding works that have shaped the look and feel of some of our most beloved brands. Between them, they've reimagined Chinese fine dining for Crystal Jade, produced a popular design film festival, and designed packaging for Haagen Daz, to name just a few of their notable works.

This week, they'll be speaking at the inaugural Global Brand Summit Asia. The three-day event will see the region's brightest minds in branding design, marketing, and entrepreneurship explore the intersection of design and business through talks, workhops, and film screenings.

From writing to-do lists daily to developing authentic relationships, the award-winning trio lets us in on how they get it done.

April Chen, Studio Ensemble

Global Brand Summit Asia: How branding gurus of Parable Studios, Anonymous, and Studio Ensemble get it done (фото 1)

Daily routines

I start my day very early. On the way to work, I will practice gratitude by thanking the universe for what I have. The 15 minutes in the car alone has become the time that I treasure the most. Normally, I'll arrive at the studio by 8am. The most important first step is to make a cup of black coffee to prep myself for intermittent fasting, because I'm guilty of not exercising enough! Then, I write my to-dos on a post-it and on Stickies. This is my must-do ritual, because I treat the action of writing down as "manifesting", and believing that the list can be fulfilled within the day.

Finding inspiration social media

I follow pages on Facebook including news portals, self-growth, and spiritual pages from around the world as well as many design-related pages too: @Designdautore, @designyoutrust, @designtaxi, @thedesignfolder, @refinery29. My favourite IG accounts are designmilk, designboom, designsponge, haydesign, branding_design, thedesignfiles, graphicdesignblg, yellowtrace, frame, and flackstudio.

Managing managers

Embrace differences! That's my core believe in co-working with the team. I practice gratitude with my team, because gratitude brings happiness, and with gratitude we can identify and leverage various traits of individuals. I like to stay open too. There's no corporate hierarchy in my studio. I will not hesitate to apologise when I'm at fault. I also encourage everyone to stay open to extend our interests across not just the area of design, but also social trends, self-empowerment, economy, news, politics, and many more topics. When it comes to "setting the bar", I prefer to do a group work-in-progress update and write down to-dos as a team. I simply dislike to discuss work when we are having lunch together.

Leading with a vision

Always focus on people. We always look out for the psychology factor when we are creating direction for brands. Be bold, but mindful with details too. Across all processes, I always focus on my core value, which is to bring smiles to people's faces.

Personal branding

People are craving for surprises. I have learnt how Marcus Engman, the former design head of IKEA, transformed IKEA's long-standing simple style with constant rich and different collections. The "never-expect-it-coming" strategy intrigued and inspired me so much that I always push for great design by creating surprises.

Advice to young entrepreneurs

There's always a secret sauce to impress the taste of your audience. Find it by thinking through the conscious and unconscious perceptions towards your product, work with a "thinking designer" who can look through the brand psychology. Stay open and organic.

Ken Yuktasevi, Parable Studio

Global Brand Summit Asia: How branding gurus of Parable Studios, Anonymous, and Studio Ensemble get it done (фото 2)

Daily routines

Having two young kids and a baby means that my mornings are, in essence, chaotic and sometimes unpredictable. I've made peace with the fact that I'm not necessarily going to have a strong exercise routine, self-focused regiment, or a crazy productive getting-things-done kind of morning. Instead, I take about three minutes in the morning to be truly present with reality and the people who are most important in my life.

Finding inspiration on social media

In a world filled with noise, surrounding yourself with the right input and people is key. I use Instagram almost everyday to check in on what my favorite inspos are doing, but I rarely look or discover inspiration on social media itself. I like to find inspiration from very pure sources such as historical archive books, magazines, or diving deep into areas that I am genuinely interested and working in such as fashion. I'm currently fascinated by the maximalist aesthetics of Loewe and Gucci. I'll recommend checking these out too: @celestialobjects, #agnesmartin, #williamdemorgan.

Managing managers

Parable is only three years old; it's only been one year since it's just been me helming it. I'm putting my time into building authentic relationships without any politics; trust-filled relationships that go both ways and where the team and myself are committed to each other's success and not just their own. I encourage high and frequent communication of how they are feeling.

Leading with a vision

Because my team is small (10 people), I'm committed to inspiring them individually. By understanding what their personal styles and crafts are, I try to weave what I love with what they are passionate about. How do we inspire our consumers and clients? Well, I start my day receiving as much ideas, self-worth, and vision as I can from God, combine that with inspired individuals who will generate amazing ideas of their own.

Personal branding

I don't believe in personal branding in a way that it's marketing. I feel that it's important to be consistently yourself in the most honest way possible. The best professional Yoda advice I got was from someone who told me, "If you are afraid or angry at people, you will never be able to help them." I still hold on to that today.

Advice to young entrepreneurs

I have questions I like to ask myself with every big rescission or endeavour. Am I being real or am I faking it? Am I making a difference or am I just making more noise? Do I remember I have a purpose outside of just myself? Is there fear somewhere in all this? These questions might sound madly philosophical, but it really matters to me when I create.

Felix Ng, Anonymous

Global Brand Summit Asia: How branding gurus of Parable Studios, Anonymous, and Studio Ensemble get it done (фото 3)

Daily routines

I have a coffee in the morning, without breakfast, and a light lunch, to avoid feeling sleepy after lunch.

Finding inspiration on social media

I used to be more active on social media, both posting and following, but much less in the past three years. It used to be a great source of what's happening, and connecting with people, but it's also a big time suck so nowadays, I'm happier reading books and news sites.

Productivity and to-do lists

We use an online application for studio to-dos, so everyone knows what the milestones are, and I use an app for my to-dos. These are typically planned on Mondays when our studio is closed (everyone else works on Tuesdays to Fridays). Have as little distractions (texts, emails, calls, meetings) as possible. Our core team is small, so on every project, our approach is to deep dive and dedicate our hundred per cent into it, which also means we take on very few projects.

Managing managers

Our internal team is small (two to three at a time), so everyone works closely, but independently. Face-to-face is always best, but because almost all of our work is out of Singapore, when I'm off-site, a video call or text works. My goal is always to reduce meetings, texts, and emails as much as possible. If the brief, plan, and timeline is clear, the likelihood of having check-ins are reduced, so everyone can focus on doing what they do best.

Leading with a vision

Hire the right people, find the right audience, and everything else will sort itself out.

Personal branding

Don't be popular. Be useful. Everything else will sort itself out.

Global Brand Summit Asia runs from 21 to 23 November in Singapore.

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