We were fortunate enough to host Victor Pang at our office this week. Victor hails from MetaDesign Beijing, brimming with passion for branding and the creative process. He speaks English and three dialects of Chinese: Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hunan (but dreams in English, mostly). We sat down with Victor to learn about his background and his perspective of branding in China.
What’s your story and role in Beijing? How long have you been at MetaDesign?
I started as a junior client manager four years ago, back when we only had four people. I did a lot of translation work and helped facilitate and plan meetings. I’m grateful for participating in workshops with Rupali Steinmeyer, MetaDesign Berlin’s Managing Director, as well as executive board members, who gave me insight into design thinking and how they do business – negotiations, identifying client needs, steering the conversation and closing deals. As we grew – we’re at 30 people now and growing – I worked my way up to become a Client Services Manager. In this role, I am very involved with our clients and contribute often to our strategy team, developing content for clients.
We have a global methodology – but I twist it to meet local needs. My passion is delivering and building stories. I delight in seeing people find our stories to be useful and meaningful in terms of giving them alternative perspectives to look at things and solving their business problems. My favorite part of my job is working with my team to develop something really different. I feel like people are looking for that – and as a branding firm, we can have a big impact to how companies see, run and evolve their business. I feel very lucky to have started here.
Talk to us about branding in China.
The branding market in the US is very mature; the concept of branding is established. In China it is still evolving. Our business is all about people – whether you can create a good vibe to spark great contents and how you can deliver it. At our Beijing office, we involve the client during the entire process, and we make sure strategy is the solid and comprehensive enough to support the rest of the creative process. After the strategy has been defined, we constantly ask the question, ‘Is this on strategy? Is this on brand?’ when creating the visual system. So you can see we very much speak to our tagline ‘Visible Strategies.’ We believed that there ARE thousands of ‘beautiful’ designs, but there IS only one design that best suits the specific business need.
What are the cultural differences between the San Francisco and Beijing offices?
The office here in San Francisco is much more spacious. And you play music all day long! This is not the case in Beijing. Although, we actually have a tradition to play music loud on Friday afternoons, but just the client service corner. Each one of us will get the chance to play one song. Sometimes, if the previous song is not so good, when it finished, you will be like hallelujah, my turn! Here in San Francisco, you feel more relaxed, and with all the light streaming through the windows – beautiful.
America is all about individuation I feel, so people here can work on their own, at their own desks, or just be on their own…but in China, things are more interlinked, there are more things you should consider, as a member of a community, so is not just self.
What are some of your favorite brands?
Right now, it’s Misfit Wearables. Their brand appears to me as ‘beyond boundaries’, and I can feel that concept applied to absolutely everything they do. They are inspiring, they have lots of positive energy, and they communicate well – from how they talk about their name to how they design their products. They reduce everything down to what is absolutely necessary and will help the consumer. The concept is that their product should be facilitating, and they intertwine it into every aspect of the company.
Branding can be a philosophy. That’s why I like Misfit – they give me a feeling that their strong believe goes down to not only all the touch-points in a traditional marketing sense, but also their set-up of the business – which beyond the boundaries of marketing. WELEDA from Germany is another example of a brand that does this well, and I hope one day we can make their appearance reflect the same depth and quality of their philosophy. Having your brand rooted in a philosophy enhances the whole experience. In a good brand, each touchpoint should reflect the brand – it contributes to building up the whole experience.
You went to Burning Man. We won’t ask too many details…but is there a sentence that sums up your experience?
There’s only one way to find out!