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Walking the talk

//14th April 2016


Darien Mah
Mah says when he started realising that people were FOREFRONT Studio's greatest asset, he began investing in them and everything began to fell into place.

BRANDING and marketing has always been the forte of FOREFRONT Studio, and now they are putting their expertise into tackling what is arguably the most important client of their decade-plus history – themselves.

According to chief executive officer Darien Mah, they started their rebranding exercise actively around the end of 2014.

"We saw the need to do it in order to capture new markets and clients. Our strategy is to show others what we are capable of and make them want it for themselves.

"Marketing is a great way to attract attention and show people what we are capable of," he explained.

Mah added that marketing was a good way to ensure their long-time clients were aware of FOREFRONT Studio's growth from a mere digital agency to a full-fledged creative one.

The agency actively embarked on some of the usual marketing endeavours from press advertising to participating in awards, including The Star Outstanding Business Award (SOBA) in which they won Gold for Best Employer and Silver for Best in Marketing.

FOREFRONT
FOREFRONT produces periodical newsletters that help spread the word on their latest and future endeavours.

Being a creative agency, however, FOREFRONT Studio is best when employing something outside the tried and tested. Mah said that one of their strengths was in social media, particularly Facebook and their website.

"We have quite a popular website and Facebook page which garner a lot of traffic. Our fan numbers is one of the highest for creative agencies, and we pride ourselves in having a lot of engagement on social media," he said.

One of the studio's most highly anticipated events on Facebook was their Chinese New Year ang pow launch.

"We used to do red packet designs for some clients, and most don't want to spend too much on them. Even RM2 to RM3 per pack is considered expensive. We thought the product itself was pretty fun, so we decided to go over the top with it for our own," Mah said, adding that this year's ang pow is estimated to have cost about RM17 per pack.

He said social media was a great way to promote it and build a desire for the product.

"We always get good response for them, and will even sometimes do ang pow for other special occasions.

"We are usually inspired by what's trending, but also try to go with something that we feel people would want or be interested in," Mah said, adding that they once had a Star Wars and stop-motion picture theme for their red packets.

One of their newest projects is a periodical newsletter, which not only gets straight to the point about what's happening, but also tests their creativity.

"We fill the newsletter with information about things we've done and our future projects. It's really quite a powerful marketing tool, and through it, new and old clients can quickly see what we are capable of doing," Mah said.

FOREFRONT
The offices of FOREFRONT Studio where creativity blossoms and the development of the full potential of staff members takes place.

The newsletter first came out sometime in the middle of last year, and Mah said the aim was to publish it three times a year.

They are also doing research articles on branding, particularly in the property market, and are in the midst of talking to publishers about it.

"This is mainly for more exposure. It's like our name cards and even notebooks - they're all tools that can be used in marketing," he said.

Mah said one of the biggest marketing mistakes was to look at such things as cost and not investment.

"The biggest benefits of marketing is intangible. That being said, we have to acknowledge that companies are cutting cost, so perhaps we will look into cost-effective methods such as digital billboards which can be shared," he said.

Mah stressed the importance of brand recall, saying that marketing needed to be carried out in an integrated campaign in view of people's media consumption style today.

"The traditional way of doing things is still good, but it must be supported by new ways to be truly effective. We also believe in tuning our message to Gen Y because they are the ones with the spending power now," he said.

For FOREFRONT Studio, the core strategy remains the same in spite of the emphasis on creativity.

"We always ensure we deliver value to our client. We need to maintain good working relationships with people. Word of mouth is a very powerful thing, and it is our best bet anytime," said Mah.

Source: The Star

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