Having lived in both Hong Kong and London, Rosann’s vision is to use her background as a designer and business owner to deliver solutions that are driven in both strategic rigour and empathic design.
What’s your story?
I’ve always loved the psychology behind design, and used this as a compass to guide me along my career path.
I started as an Interior Designer in London, building my foundation around the importance of colour, senses, and design as story-telling. I was extremely fortunate to be part of a team that worked with inspiring clients such as Heston Blumenthal, Tate Modern, and Google.
Coming from an entrepreneurial family, my curiosity then led me to join a couple of startups to experience building a business from the ground up.
Fast forward 7 years, I’ve come full circle at Branding, using skills from both design and business to help my clients build the brands of their dreams.
What excites you most about your industry?
Being a Brand Strategist means having the opportunity to learn about different industries with every new project. Today I could be researching the latest wellness trends for a new yoga studio. Tomorrow I could be learning about the history of Wuxia for a Chinese gaming company.
Branding is about finding the balance between having your client’s aspirations at heart and having deep empathy for their audience. I enjoy the challenge of basing my work on rigorous strategy whilst maintaining great design sensibility.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Hong Kong. After living in London for 8 years, I decided it was time to head back to my home city, with the mission to bridge cross-cultural gaps in the design industry.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I must say it’s got to be Hong Kong! We are such a melting pot of cultures and so densely populated, making it a great place to kickstart a company for experimenting with new ideas and propelling rapid growth.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My first boss taught me how to accept a challenge no matter how intimidating it might seem at the time. As a fresh design graduate who’s never set foot into a construction site before, I was thrown into the deep end on my second week on the job to negotiate with contractors on site alone. He called it character building and it has certainly built mine up from the start! Sometimes the only obstacle separating you from where you are to where you want to be is simply overcoming your fears and believing that you can.
Who inspires you?
My grandfather was a true visionary and my greatest role model. As a serial entrepreneur, he successfully founded four companies across the audio, entertainment, mining and automobile industries. He brought western pop and classical music into Asia in the ’70s, working with artists including ABBA and Richard Clayderman. In the ’90s and starting a new career at age 70, he spoke of sustainable architecture before sustainability was even a buzzword. Because he was always so ahead of his times, he often received a lot of resistance. But with a heart full of dreams and infinite determination, he’s left this world a better place than he found it.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
This video talks about how the Instagram generation experiences the present as an anticipated memory. The concept comes from Dr Daniel Kahneman’s TEDTalk about how we all have two selves: the experiencing self and the remembering self.
Our experiencing selves live in the present, continuously moving from moment to moment. Our remembering selves look into our past, telling us the stories of our lives by auditing the experiences we choose to hold on to. Because of Instagram, we now curate our own memories and begin to do so even while they are happening in the present. Essentially, we are living in two realities at the same time.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would spend less time worrying about what people thought of me so I’d have the courage to pursue my dreams and follow where my curiosity leads me. As a multi-passionate person, I used to struggle with not fitting into a box. Now I’ve learnt to celebrate my multi-faceted experiences and try to encourage others to follow their own path, not the one society tries to carve out for you.
How do you unwind?
I love travelling, and learning about different cultures. Every time I travel, I try to put myself in the shoes of a local. There’s so much to take away from observing how different societies do things differently, both offline (etiquettes, architecture, food) and online (mobile apps, e-commerce). Being curious, inquisitive and open-minded has definitely helped me become a better designer who is constantly driven by empathy.
I also hold a barre instructor certification, so you’re likely to find me sweating it out at the studio to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I’m always overwhelmed by the beauty and surprises of Thailand! It is a country where serene landscapes meet world class creatives. There’s something for everyone, whether it’s escaping to the beaches of Koh Samui or discovering talented designers taking over Bangkok’s fashion scene.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. I think in business, vulnerability is a word that’s often perceived as ‘weakness’. But admitting to our faults can set the tone for how we communicate effectively with our colleagues and foster a trusting culture within the workspace. If we encourage those around us to be more courageous, we end up with a team that shares the same values in growing together through the good times and the bad.
Shameless plug for your business:
Brand strategy is a process you go through to figure out why your brand matters and why it exists. A brand is much more than just a logo – it is a promise. We understand that starting a business is full of challenges, so we’re here to guide you through your brand development as your closest ally.
The strongest brands are built on rigorous strategy and empathic design. This is done by first uncovering the brand’s core values, positioning and mission; followed by design solutions that effectively communicate your message and vision to the right audience.
Get in touch to build the business of your dreams with us.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.