Xavier Mah is a PR and branding strategist, who has worked with brands and media from numerous industries. Kick-starting his consultancy at the age of 26, he has serviced clients from Property, Beauty, F&B, Lifestyle & Fashion industries. Xavier has mastered the art of marketing and communications and has successfully brought unknown brands from ground up to being known by the intended market. Xavier has also organized one of the first few women awards, #beaXsuperwoman that pays tribute to the incredible women of Malaysia. Moreover, he is also actively engaged by Universities to deliver talks on the importance of personal branding
I started my career with the media industry by being a program producer media conglomerate in Malaysia and some existing online portals. After some time, I realized that I was more interested in brands and marketing. Hence, I identified a pretty big advertising agency from the US and had an interview opportunity with them.
Everything went fairly well up until they asked me one particular question: “What does branding mean to you?”
Don’t get me wrong, I know what branding means but back then my perspective was restricted to the work I’ve done as a program producer.
So, I answered, “To me, branding is how one creates a storyline, edits it and conceptualizes as a package especially when it comes to the angle of the video. How we package the product through the screen will decide whether the branding is successful or not.”
He immediately corrected my answer and further elaborated on what branding truly is. What happened then? That’s right, I was rejected from the job opportunity. It made sense why I didn’t get the job, I didn’t quite understand what they meant and I didn’t have the right answers. My perspective was too skewed towards my experience being a part of the media.
It took a few days for me to accept what had happened because I was so hopeful that it was going to happen for me. I was broken but I figured that it was the time for me to dive myself into this industry by hook or by crook. If no one is going to give me the opportunity, I was going to create one for myself.
After countless meetings with many people whom I respected, I began to understand what it took to create your own opportunities. It requires sacrifice and understanding – not only about the job or industry but also about your own self. So, I took the jump 8 years ago and today, here I stand.
Heading my own PR and Branding consulting firm and managing many clients from an array of industries, I’ve learned a thing or two about branding too – something which was quite alien to me in my early career days. It’s not just about the logo and colors you use for your brand. Although it is important for you to have appealing visuals to up-sell your business, it is equally important for you to convey a story and connect to people.
That is the key – the people! If no one and resonate with your brand and what it stands for, it will all be a waste. A brand is about the society, the feelings you can give them and how you can provide an experience. To make your brand even better, have a clear message and a great product. It is all about the whole package.
My point is, you will never know what the needs of an industry are if you’ve never actually been in it. Yes, you can read books about it and watch videos to strengthen your knowledge. However, the most valuable component is when you’ve actually gone through mistakes and learn from them. For that, you cannot buy or garner anywhere else unless you give it a shot.
So, to all you students reading this, I urge you to persevere and keep on trying. I’ve failed many times in my life and that got me where I am today. Keep putting in the work and worry less. If an opportunity closes, be sure that one more will open.