This year, Prophet took home 7 Transform APAC Awards that recognized our work in brand strategy, design and innovation across a range of industries. It’s always exciting when our work is recognized. It is a testament to our commitment to help our clients unlock uncommon growth.

Our award-winning work features some of China’s most exciting rising brands. They face unique challenges as the market and its consumers are transforming rapidly. Young Kim, partner and executive creative director, shared her experiences and thoughts on how these companies stay ahead of the competition.

COLMO: The Power of a Singular Story that Delivers an Extraordinary Brand

One of the things that makes China such an exciting market is that the nation’s consumers are ever evolving. With more than 45 million affluent households expected by 2020, China’s New Middle Class is offering a massive opportunity for growth. They are growing increasingly sophisticated, knowing exactly what they want and need, shifting from wanting ‘more’ to wanting ‘better.’ When Midea Group approached us to create a new premium brand for an upcoming range of smart kitchen products, it saw the opportunity to fulfill the distinctive needs of this rising segment.

As we started looking at brands in this space, one of the first things we discovered was the market’s outdated image of the premium consumer electronics consumer – think women in gowns, strolling into a living room with fancy décor surrounded by home appliances. To create a truly premium and relevant brand, we knew we had to reverse this old stereotype. We conducted extensive market research to understand how today’s consumers perceive ‘premium,’ and landed on a singular concept ‘Simply Extraordinary’ that resonated to their need for a confident brand that would deliver effortless and extraordinary experience. This concept inspired our name – COLMO – meaning ‘the height of’, ‘summit’ or ‘peak’ in Italian. This concept also ran through the new logo which had simple and classic letterforms with the tops of the ‘M’ subtly reinforcing the idea of the “peak”. During the design process, we embraced the concept that less is more, and edited down a lot of the graphics to a focused and singular imagery style. It’s simple and confident design showed integrity and depth with premium cues of European design sensibility.

Without a clear story, brand communications risk being inconsistent, inefficient, and unable to stand out. For COLMO, it was evident from the very start that we wanted to celebrate the idea of ‘less is more’ with a focused story that was relevant for the consumer. We consistently applied it across all brand assets and it made all the difference. It is exciting to see the great success COLMO has achieved with numerous accolades and exciting collaborations, thanks to the consistent implementation of a singular brand story throughout their new product launches and marketing activation.

Suning International: Multi-dimensional Brand Experiences that Transcend

Best known for their mass market electronic stores, Suning was limited in terms of its perception and stretch. When Suning International, the cross boarder e-commerce business unit under Suning Group, approached us in 2018, they wanted to create a new innovative brand that would attract a younger and more premium target consumer, and also to elevate perceptions of the group itself as more pioneering and innovative. By having a clearer understanding of their audience, building a clear brand philosophy, we helped them create a retail experience concept first to be shared in the Salone del Mobile.Milano Design Exhibition in Shanghai.

The target audience was the new generation of young consumers who travel frequently and are constantly seeking out for more personalized experiences and lifestyles. Our consumer-centric approach led us to uncover deep insights about this group, who don’t only care about the name of the brand or convenience when it comes to shopping, but are looking to enrich their lifestyles with their products and have it reflect their personal identity. This was an opportunity for Suning International to move beyond just an online channel that’s transaction based and create a more multi-dimensional online and offline experience to meet the more experimental and experiential needs of this group.

The brand philosophy was to create ‘A Global Community of Curators’ who would find items of substance from around the world and share their discoveries with others.  With this concept, Suning International could go beyond just a unique product assortment or a superior e-commerce site, to creating a unique platform to build a community of ‘global citizens’ that would share experiences and knowledge to enhance lives for the better. This platform came to life in a retail concept that merged both digital and physical touchpoints to create a Journal (digital app), a Journey (store as travel destination), and Membership (social mixing of ‘Global Citizens’).

This concept was first exhibited in the Salone del Mobile.Milano in Shanghai, where we created an O2O experience installation. It consisted of one corridor that brought the guests through an immersion of the ‘day in the life’ of two people using unique products with multisensorial displays and video takeovers. Another corridor had interactive experiential niches to further experience and learn more about the products. We also created a WeChat mini-program that allowed guests to collect different items virtually and store their favorites, with videos and details of each selection to be able to share on their social channels.

When building a brand experience, instead of designing for each channel separately, brands should strive to integrate the channels into one holistic, multi-dimensional journey. Through more immersive experiences, brands can connect more actively with consumers and create stronger and deeper emotional ties.

Final Thoughts

Brands in China are facing increasingly sophisticated consumers who seek more than just a brand name or product functionality. The new generation of consumers seek out brands that add an interesting dimension to their lifestyle and reflect their unique tastes and personality. For brands this means that its more important than ever to uncover a relevant, authentic and distinctive voice that is understood by customers and experienced consistently across every interaction. By having all brand elements (e.g., name, visual identity, verbal voice, experience principles) support the brand story and bring it to life consistently in the new multi-dimensional and multisensorial world, it will separate itself from the crowd and garner loyalty and trust.

We are honored by Prophet’s success at this year’s Transform Awards, and it stands as a testament to how our customer-centric and transformative approach has helped our clients overcome their unique challenges and unlock uncommon growth.