Uncover the secret to success in building great online brand

Keys to build a successful brand and make it remain in the heart of online customers is a must in the “Next Normal” business era. SME entrepreneurs have to know and decode the secret behind the success of 3 great ladies from SME Hero. They all come from different types of business, are equipped with different techniques, and perceive different perspectives. They are Ms. Yim –Wanida Praparat, Founder and Creative Director at HAMBURGER STUDIO; Ms. Uhn –Pannakorn Chantarugka, CEO of NPP BOX and Ms. Ying –Nednaphit Rungthanakiat, Managing Director of Lamoon Baby .

Interesting tips for business to grow

Uhn from NPP BOX shared that she did not intend her business to grow by leaps and bounds. She operated her business with NPP POWER, a business management strategy that focuses on 3 powers –manpower, cooperation power, and creative power –and these will allow the organization to grow sustainably.


1.Manpower consists of 3 groups of people who are customers, business partners, and staff. In terms of staff, the duty of the manager is to ensure their wellbeing. They have to focus on recruiting staff who have a similar attitude to the organization to establish a peaceful and happy working environment as well as emphasize teamwork.

2. Cooperation power. Originally, Uhn’s intention was not to just produce boxes. She wanted her product to become more than just a box. Thus, the company needs to rely on others’ strengths as well because some of the things cannot be solely done by the company. They then looked for partners who share similar attitudes and goals. For example, the company wanted to pass forward the inspiration, so they produced a show –“The Idol”, the show that talks about interesting stories of their customers such as Ms. Noon, a veterinarian and CEO of swimsuit brand. After the show was broadcasted, many audiences were inspired to make their dream comes true. This fulfilled Uhn and Noon’s hearts as they could pass forward this inspiring power to others. Also, Uhn collaborated with Dr. Pairoj, the creator of Thai Tone, to meet customers’ demands of Nammak Red and Khram Blue box, in which these colors do not appear in regular Pantone. And came the “Thai Tone Collection”, boxes in Thai color tones.

3.Creative power. There must be no such thing as “cannot be done”, there must only be “how to do”. When one thinks of the way to get things done, they will imagine it into the tangible plan and possible operation plan will follow. This is how postal box collection came about. His collection personified boxes into human characters and presented them through models or expanded the idea by designing boxes into company uniforms and there were customers who wanted to purchase the company uniforms. This shows that creative power can bring about business expansion.

Ying from Lamoon Baby has a motto –“Whatever that is heart-made, it will definitely come out perfect”. There are 3 heart-made actions she mentioned. They are:

1.Made by heart is the heart that gets to customers’ hearts. Knowing what customers are seeking, what problems they have, what they are thinking and feeling, and how these affect their behaviors will help the company to create products and services that perfectly meet the demands of customers.

2.Believe that everything is possible and never say “no”, only say “yes”. With this belief in mind, every idea will not be judged. All ideas will have value and meaning and these ideas will be developed further to become big ideas. Problems and obstacles will then be overcome to reach the finishing line and this allows business to continue to grow.

3.Ever readiness to adapt and change. Since online business changes rapidly, one should not hold on to past achievements and ideas, but must always be ready to adapt and learn to catch up with the new opportunities that they will encounter.

Yim, Founder and Creative Director at HAMBURGER STUDIO,
mentioned that the origin of every brand is its “founder”. It does not matter if founders love or have passion for what they are doing, they need to have faith and spread this belief to their brand. The action of the brand has to be vivid because it will be sent as a message through all channels and reach customers. For example, HAMBURGER feels that it is a friend of many women who will go out and look confident. After they are confident with their appearance, they will look good and confident in everything they do. When Ying started making this brand, she used online platforms. She announced her brand existence by constructing the character, brand, page administrator and content creator. All that mentioned will need to have the same characteristic because they are points of contact with customers. In online platforms, one has only about 3 seconds to make customers notice and remember the brand. All messages conveyed have to be clear. After constructing an online existence, the brand has to then stand at where customers stand for customers to remember the brand and for the brand to remember customers. In order to remember customers, business will have to make use of data, frequent engage with customers and keep track of customer journey to develop the business as well as hiring influencers, who are important figures in fashion business.

Overcome obstacles in business

Yim, from HAMBURGER STUDIO, felt that the challenge in the fashion business is that it mainly relies on customer demand while customer demand changes very fast. Also, in a retail business, business owners will have to produce their own products and this brings about problems all the time. For example, originally, production took place in China for the first 4 years of running a business and had just change the production location to Thailand because the business wanted to support domestic labor and the flow of domestic income. However, after beginning operation in Thailand, the business found out that big factories could not respond to the production need as the cost and order were too high. When the business moved their production to the medium factory, they faced with a delay in delivery, such as the Chinese Lunar New Year Collection that the factory could not deliver in time and the company missed the opportunity to have their place in the market, resulting in putting the collection on sale eventually. Despite encountering problems, Yim still wanted the fashion business to take Thailand as their production fort. Nevertheless, do not place too much trust or be too contented. Businesses have to realize their production capability. The brand has to take a longer time to prepare for production and needs to have a number of factories in hand to ensure the production.

Uhn, CEO of NPP BOX,
shared that the end of her family’s packaging business was the beginning of NPP BOX. One day, she received a bad news that her family’s factory would be taken over in a month time. She was surprised and confused because she had never heard about it from her family members and she did not help out in her family business. On that day, she went to the factory, sat in front of the machinery, and thought hard about what to do next. The pictures of employees who worked with this business for over 10 years flashed right before her eyes and that was when she decided that she would leave no one behind. Uhn, thus, told her mother that she would take over the business despite having zero knowledge on packaging business. Her mother approved the request with a condition that Uhn had to find 4 million baht and pay to the bank. Luckily, Uhn could get the money with the help of her friend’s mother. Early 2015, therefore, marked the beginning of Uhn in packaging business and the old factory had officially transformed into NPP BOX business.

It was a challenge for a person who knew nothing about this field of business like herself to run it and ensure its survival. Uhn began her post as the CEO by looking for the source of the problem and found that the former business fought in the pricing war. Their boxes had no value and could not match with big factories. The intended that NPP would not walk the same path as the previous company. After that, she had to go on a quest, looking for identity, by having NPP BOX as a creator of love at first sight. Product in the box had to establish love at first sight to people who received it. Next, this goal would have to be conveyed to staff in the organization to ensure that everyone and everything would head in the same direction. And when one wished their product to become love, at first sight, their workplace would have to be a love at first sight, to begin with. So, when there was no order, Uhn renovated the factory, painted it anew, and renovated toilets. After having a place to fall in love, there must be a product to show love. The machinery in the former factory was more than 30 years old with people hardly using it anymore. Normally, box production will have an error of 3 – 5 millimeters, but hers had an error of 3 – 5 centimeters. She solved this problem by measure each and every box by hand and the most she had done was up to 3 thousand boxes to make her product a love at first sight as she wished. When people within the organization were ready to fight, the company started to communicate with customers through various online platforms that were available. They did not choose all the platforms, but only those that they were good at. This was because if they got themselves on the platforms that were not their forte and did not do well, it would affect the reputation of the brand. In conclusion, one will have to search for the source of the problem, construct identity, convey to the organization, and communicate with customers.

 Ying, from Lamoon Baby, said that she had been running this business for more than 10 years, but nobody would believe that she and her partners did not receive any income in the first 3 years. They did not get any salary or bonus. The factor that kept the company going was its objective. They knew what they were doing this for. They knew that they want to make the best organic product for young children to use by inventing a formula with the best ingredients. Some ingredients cannot be found in Thailand and have to be imported. This resulted in a high cost of production when compared to other mother and baby care products in the market. At the same time, they did not set a high price for their product because they wanted to make it affordable and wanted all young children to use the quality gentle products. Therefore, their profit was really low. Cash flow was required all the time. Other people asked Ying if she was crazy to do business that does not gain her money. Those questions did not make her wavered as she knew what she was doing all these for.

As she put her heart into doing her business, Ying gained the hearts of her customers in form of feedbacks that a group of mothers sent to her via various online platforms. For example, “Thank you so much for making the product. My child isn’t allergic to it at all”; “Thank you so much for making my child sleep tight throughout the night for the first time ever since they were born”; “Thank you so much for making my child waking up with a smile for the first time” and many more voices that brought her to tears of joy. That is her true happiness. To do whatever will fulfill her goal and people see values in it is an encouragement to herself that even though it is tiring and disheartening, she has never given up and she fought her way to have everything today.

How to understand customers’ insight

Yim, from HAMBURGER STUDIO, said that as her brand has both online and offline platforms, she frequently visits her retail branches. This is because talking directly with customers and staff is the easiest way to understand customers. First, listen to their voices and what they want to tell. Second, look at their inaudible behaviors. In the case of the online platform, data will be used to determine whether customers really say what they feel. Apart from that, Yim has to look into her business to see if there is anything else that she can make customers happier or more satisfied than even customers themselves have no idea that they want it. Also, she has to be a customer of her own business to be aware of problems that customers encounter. This brought about a service that HAMBURGER STUDIO provides which is pants alteration. Most of the customers thought that the owner of this brand must be tall as the pants are all very long in length. But in reality, the brand intentionally makes the pants long for taller customers and long pants will leave some room for shorter customers to make alterations. And with service provided, customers often trust the shop to do the alteration for them.

Besides, there is an increase in size range because, normally, if customers visit the online or retail shops and could not find clothes of their size, they will turn to other brands. So, the brand heeds their sounds of their feedbacks through the staff and improves the clothing size range. Not all sizes will be available on all platforms. For example, size XS will be available in the Siam branch because most of the customers are teenagers. The sizes available vary among branches. Apart from sizes, styles are also important because HAMBURGER claims to be a brand of clothing that can be worn for both working and parties. However, there are customers who came to the store and especially looked for party clothing and the current style was still not the right answer. Thus, HAMBURGER expanded its product line that focuses on party clothing. But it was not enough after expanded their service and line of product. HAMBURGER, therefore, established another line under the name “A Personal” that was created in response to customer’s needs. It provides customize clothing services with a team of designers ready to give the advice to help customers enhance their strength and cover their flaws. This goes according to the aim of the brand that they want customers to wear with confidence.

Ying, from Lamoon Baby, said that to understand customers, she has to go to customers by going to mom and baby care product big fair that are held 4 times a year. She gets to meet customers directly and gets useful insights from attending every time because she will talk to customers and observe their behaviors. She will also ask questions like how many children they have, how old their children are, whether this is their first child or they had children before, whether they have used her product, what they like, which products they are looking into, whether they like the product they are currently using, whether they have any problems, which products they have not tried, which platforms they use to purchase, why they turn to other brands etc. She would use a lot of questions when speaking with customers and often took time in their conversation. She gave tasks to every staff who went to the fair to “talk to customers” and after the fair was over they would hold a meeting to search for insights and key ideas.

Not only can Ying obtain information from the fair, but she also gained a lot of information from online platforms. The brand gives importance to data because they feel that it will allow the brand to win in every competition. Therefore, the brand collected information from the very first point of contact, every transaction that customers contacted, they will collect information like name, address, date of birth, date of purchase, platform of purchase, product purchased and amount of product purchased in detail. After that, they will further analyze the information collected to find out the type of product that customers are interested in and what other products will they buy to do cross-promotion and frequency in buying. So, they will be able to identify heavy users and light users to customize each of them. Also, they will be able to spot the difference in consumption behavior of each customer group, for example, customers from the northern region and southern region have different consumption behaviors that campaigns and promotions can be made differently. Ying further said that, nowadays, LINE application is the main platform in selling and they have a new feature that she can put chat tags for customers, in which up to 10 chat tags can be put for one customer. As such, she does not have to wait until the fair. She can immediately ask customers questions and customize messages or promotions and send them to them.

Uhn, from NPP BOX, specifically stressed the first impression because she believed that first impression will automatically bring about second order. What NPP BOX does is repeatedly emphasize on a brand identity that they are “friendly like family, easy to approach and kind”. It does not matter if customers are not placing orders. The company is willing to give free consultation. Also, the phone number that is left on the page is her personal number. If anyone dials the number, they will directly contact Uhn. They do not have to be her customers or any big shot to talk to a CEO. She shared that when she gets a chance to take care of customers, she will take care of them like they are her friends or family. She only wishes them well. Sale orders are not the factor to determine how her customers should be treated and the brand positions itself as not just a box factory but a co-creation between customer and company because boxes are the heart of the brand. Staff answering customer’s chat is the vanguards. Therefore, they are equipped with a manual to answer the chat that they called 6 hats which are: answer the question; answer everything; answer with gentle tone; answer with manners; answer like an advisor and answer professionally.

Fortunately, nowadays, the LINE application allows the renaming of customers. As for the search for insight, there are 3 things that Uhn does which are: talking to customers, talking to staff, and talking to herself. NPP’s selling platform is 100% online and they make use of 2 tags which are interest and order. They will pay attention to frequent questions and frequent interests and create content or products out of these frequent questions. As for talking to the staff, staff members have to capture screenshots of chats with customers and add them into respective albums. For example, “there’s room for improvement” album which is an album consisting of complaints from customers or an encouragement album with compliments compiled in it. Lastly, for talking to himself, Uhn gave the example of when she went out to shop. She would ask herself what she likes and dislikes, why she buys this brand and not the others, and use this to develop her product.

The knowledge shared by the 3 SME Heroes can be ideas to develop business or inspiration for SMEs. Not only clear goal will make business owners realize what and why they are doing it, but this will also become a power for businesses to overcome obstacles to achieve. More importantly, heed the voices of customers. Insights are very useful in developing and expanding businesses.

Citation: Seminar on “Uncover the Secret to Success in Building Great Online Brand” from Digital SME Conference Thailand 2020 on 15 September 2020.