Welcome to Marketing In Asia, Alex & Sebastian.
Alex and Sebastian, one of the things I first noticed when I was pitched this story was that you two are brothers, with the age difference of 4 years. How was it growing up? Tell us everything we need to know about the Sua Brothers.
We come from a very close-knit family. Our family often encouraged us to spend time together. Sebastian is my older brother. Between both of us, he is the more giving sibling. Whenever we fought, he would often give in to me. This somehow also translated to our roles in the business as well.
Between the two of you gentlemen, you have over 20 years of professional experience with various companies. Walk us through those years, Alex and Sebastian.
Sebastian has spent much of his career in international advertising agencies. His last stint before he started the business was with Saatchi and Saatchi. He brings with him experience in advertising, media and strategy. Some of the brands that he worked on include Apple, ITE, Frasers Centrepoint Malls and many more.
While Sebastian has been in agencies, my experience is in-house marketing. I have worked at companies such as Disney and Panasonic specialising in consumer marketing. Those were incredibly fun experiences where we developed 360-degree campaigns across multiple platforms.
At the 2008 Singapore Media Awards, my work for a campaign bagged the most prestigious award of the night.
Hamilton & Sherwind is an integrated marketing agency. Why have you decided to go that route?
My brother had always wanted to start a business. After working for many years in the corporate world, we both wanted to build a brand that we could call our own.
Sebastian was motivated by a previous client turned friend who committed to being Sebastian’s first client if he started a business. She basically handed him a blank cheque and pushed him to start the business.
As we had varied in-house and agency marketing experiences, we felt that we could bring these perspectives to offer well-rounded marketing campaign ideas to clients.
We initially started out by developing creatives for clients but we evolved along the way to offer interactive content, events management and media buying to better meet our clients’ needs.
This year, we are happy to celebrate our fifth anniversary in business. It is also a very special year for us as we clinched a silver at the MUSE Creative Awards 2019 and a bronze at the Summit Creative Awards 2019.
I am very curious about the name, Hamilton & Sherwind. Tell us the story behind it.
We get this question very often and it is actually a great conversation starter. When we meet people for the first time, they often get confused. They would ask us “Who is Hamilton and Who is Sherwind?”.
Jokes aside, we decided on Hamilton & Sherwind because we wanted a brand name that people could resonate with internationally. Hamilton means great achievements in business and Sherwind means the creator of original ideas.
Over the years, Hamilton & Sherwind had experienced competition from freelancers who most often than not offer services below market rate. How do you counter this?
This was a challenge that we experienced two and a half years ago. We discovered that there were too many freelancers in the market offering creative design services at much lower prices. We did not want to join the price war. But, we knew that we had to confront the issue.
We thought long and hard about the issue and decided to shift our business model to offer interactive content across multiple channels and platforms. I was responsible for creating the first few pieces of interactive content. We then started to build our capabilities in offering a more holistic marketing strategy and interactive content. We are now a one-stop solution for companies. We build marketing strategies, creative, media, content creation, events management and digital campaigns for our clients.
We live in a time where there is constant chaos; everyone wants to be seen and heard. That said, what have your marketing strategies been, Alex and Sebastian – to ensure Hamilton & Sherwind stands out amidst the going-on?
I believe the most important thing is to ensure that we constantly improve. As marketing agencies, we need to remember that the heart of what we do, is to serve our clients and to do a good job at it. So, we need to continuously improve to serve our clients better.
This is why we constantly add to our offerings to meet our client’s needs. When we started out and our clients needed media buy services, we decided to get certified as a media buy partner to do that. This was a massive task for a small agency at that time.
This year, we’ve taken on another big task. Sebastian went through rigorous training and he has just been certified as a management consultant. We decided to take this on as we have been working with many start-ups and SMEs recently. We know that financing is an issue with these businesses and we hope to support them further.
As management consultants, we can help them secure government grants so that we can drive marketing campaigns and propel our clients to even greater heights.
Between marketing and branding, in your opinion, which is more crucial in running a successful business?
If one wants to see more immediate results, you can explore more tactical marketing strategies but in the long term, all businesses need to consider a more holistic branding strategy to prosper in this competitive market.
Gentlemen, where do you see yourselves in 5 years?
We would like to share our wealth of experience by conducting pieces of training in the marketing and branding arena. We are also exploring ways to establish ourselves in upcoming markets such as Myanmar and Malaysia.
For those who wish to know more about Hamilton & Sherwind or contact you, how can they do so?
For companies who are keen to find out more about how they can market their brands, they can download our e-book titled Marketing Myths Debunked from our website.
Any parting words, Alex and Sebastian?
The business world is brutal and consumers are fickle-minded. As a business owner, one should be daring to be different; work with the right strategic marketing and branding partner to bring out the best in your business.