Cherry Kho of Bluethumb and Tough Banana joins us to talk about how to future proof your business this 2024
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”
These words by famed author and lecturer Joel Arthur Barker, are what guide Cherry Kho as she helps businesses realize their dreams. She is the founder of Bluethumb, a creative agency tasked with assisting enterprises craft and solidify their brand. Since being built in 2002, they have worked with the likes of Robinsons Bank, SM, the Philippine Stock Exchange, and much more.
With over 20 years of branding experience, Kho has also recently started her own brand, “Tough Banana,” a healthy and sugar-free jerky-like snack completely made out of the breakfast staple.
The new year offers an opportunity to grow and do better. This 2024, learn from past mistakes and peek into the mind of a brand builder—here are five tips to refreshing your business for both aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs.
1. Identify your purpose
A business relies heavily on equivalent exchange. For a service provided, it must be repaid with a value that is equal to what you have given out. A customer at a restaurant is paying the establishment for all the costs required to serve them the food they ordered. To charge beyond those requirements is unfair and disingenuous to the clientele while charging too low puts the business at risk.
For Kho, any entrepreneur must first identify the purpose of their venture. In her words, “It must fill a gap in the world that is either frustrating to people—or can bring joy into their life.” Following that is carefully recognizing the people “you want to bring joy to or remove that pain from.”
In doing so, a business can find its niche and narrow down its market. Grounding yourself to the current situation enables a venture that is both timely and meets the needs of others.
2. Clarity and consistency
After clarifying and identifying your purpose, comes ensuring that your vision is passed on throughout your enterprise. Execution is the name of the game and no amount of preparation and conceptualization will mean anything until it is made tangible.
Kho maintains that consistency is quality and that any effort made behind the scenes is wasted when acted upon poorly. For her, it won’t matter how well-made and beautiful product designs and logos are when they’re placed on flimsy calling cards and cheap packaging. Quality ideas must be accompanied by quality execution.
3. Don’t say it, show it
Part of brand consistency is ensuring that your vision can be felt and experienced in all aspects of your business. It has to come to the point where your customers understand what you stand for without you having to tell them.
For example, Quicklean sought to change people’s perception of laundry as a tedious chore. To do so, they utilized infographics and sticker decals to make their industrial washers look less intimidating and more fun to use.
4. Beyond staying afloat
With the right approach, any business can succeed in staying afloat—all the more when your service or product is in demand in the first place. Some can get away with stagnation, but for most, neglecting your brand can lead to missing out on profits you would’ve otherwise had. And in an uncertain economy, more means greater security and longevity.
Another case study on Tapa King, a Filipino breakfast staple, has done well to stay afloat for over 30 years without changing much. However, stagnation brought their overall brand value down to the point that they were now perceived as an “upscale carinderia,” in Kho’s words. Identifying a clear direction for their brand not only led to a refined in-store experience but improved public perception as they gained over 23,000 new followers on social media within 2 weeks of their brand re-launch. Moreover, the brand gained 14 new franchisees during the pandemic.
5. Fulfillment and inspiration
No matter how you put it, money is the greatest motivator. However, running a business is not all sunshine and rainbows. When things are not going your way, the purpose and the vision you stand by serve not only as a source of fulfillment and inspiration but a light at the end of the tunnel for you and your employees.
According to Kho, “Any business can run with a compliance vision statement and make money as long as there’s a need for that product or service. But answering these questions also inspires you and your people to get out of bed. You’re making people happier when they buy your products or when they serve your products to the customer.”
Kho recently wrote the book titled “The Vision to Action Toolkit,” a business guide that contains over two decades of branding experience. You can find a copy of her book in Fully Booked and on Lazada.