It Wasn’t A Sequel To Begin With
November 29, 2012 – 18:32 | No Comment

My 3rd novel wasn’t meant to be a sequel to the 2nd novel in the first place. Then something happened. Characters began to beg to be included in the story. Thus, a sequel was born.

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Exclusive Interview by Juliana Zainal Aznam

Submitted by on November 3, 2010 – 16:383 Comments

I’m very peculiar when it comes to strangers adding me on Facebook. I always ask, “Do I know you?” – I have bad memory when it comes to faces and names. One day, I asked the same question to a girl who added me on Facebook and she replied…

Hey Gina! Was wondering if u dont mind me interviewing you about you and your career especially on branding. Just a short informal interview. I looked at your blog and website and im impressed. BTW, im a final year Media degree student currently studying in RMIT, Melbourne. The interview is for my course report. Basically i would have to seek out professionals and ask them questions about the industry etc. If you would like to participate i could email you the questions through. Thanksss!”

I was honoured; delighted to be discovered online and flattered to be recognised as a success story to an university student. So I did an email interview with Juliana Zainal Aznam about – How To Get Into Branding?. With her permission, here’s the interview transcript for your reading pleasure.

Juliana: A brief introduction about yourself.
My name is Gina, or better known as Cmate in the internet world. I’m a 24-year-old dreamer that dreams more than I could create. Nevertheless, compared to my peers, I’ve been ranked to be doing extremely well in the creative industry. I’m a copywriter, graphic designer, film critic, columnist, blogger and a branding consultant. With the recent release of my debut novel, now I wear an extra hat – local malay novelist. In the creative field, no hats is extra hat. It’s all inter-related. I leverage on that relations to create even more masterpieces to inspire others to live life to their fullest potential.

Juliana: What university course did you study?
I graduated from IACT college with a diploma in Advertising & Marketing Communications. I believe that learning the essentials to step into the creative industry is compulsory, but qualifications beyond that are just paper. Let your creativity do the talk. Though for branding field specifically, the more experience you have, the better it is for you. Branding is ever growing and changing, training and conferences are really good for continuaity of growth.

Juliana: After you graduated, what were your first steps in getting your first job. How did you put yourself out there? Any problems you faced getting started in a new working environment?
I was a newbie upon graduation but I know one thing, I needed a job fast because I was excited to start creating wonders. So I sent out my resume during my final semester in college and got my first job confirmation before I sat for my finals. The following day after my last paper for my finals, I started working as a fulltime copywriter in a small advertising agency. My added advantage was I have been receiving little jobs here and there from my family and friends during my student years, so I used them as my portfolio – which really put me above my collegemates. Of course, first job first timer, lots of things to learn. Not so much about implementing the knowledge and skills I learnt in college, more on how to handle the office way-of-working and politics. Office politics is something that everyone cannot avoid, no matter how hard you try not to be part of it, they will make you part of it.

Juliana: What skills/knowledge do you need before entering this industry?
Depending on what you want to achieve. If you want to be a copywriter, go master Microsoft Office. If you want to be a graphic designer, go master Adobe Creative suite. If you wanna be a branding consultant, go master everything from top to toe. Otherwise, you’ll get cheated by the other professionals. I know, cause my senior in branding always got cheated by the external parties that deal with us. But because I have knowledge of how the agencies work in terms of productions and execution, I find that I was able to execute my task better as a branding person.

Juliana: Any tips for a Fresh Grad to get an edge over others in terms of getting a job in branding?
First of all, brand yourself. Do that successfully and you’re ready to bloom! Your brand story is the best portfolio you can give yourself. This includes how you portray yourself, sell your skills and talents, present yourself to the public, etc. I didn’t know this immediately, it was only one year down the road of my career that I learnt personal branding matters much.

Juliana: What do you most enjoy about your job?
When I was a branding person… I guess it would be the total control of creation. Branding is like creating personality and characteristics to a person. I was fortunate to be able to be part of a nationwide re-branding project. It’s like giving new identity to a current identity. The total control of what kind of brand attributes to input into the brand was exhilirating. Working on the blueprints, manual guides, etc, – it was totally challenging. Just the challenge that I was looking for.

Juliana: What made you keen on getting involved in branding?
Brands are like people. To be able to have total control of how a brand feels, looks and represents – that is my passion. I’ll do it again if another branding project or re-branding project comes my way.

Juliana: What is the most challenging part about your job?
Convincing others the importance of branding. Many companies out there don’t really care about branding, not when they are all struggling to maintain their business during the recession. Every penny they have goes to growing the business but they forget the most important thing – branding. It all starts with branding. How customers perceive your brand comes from branding. Whether customers come to like your products & services also boils down to branding. Educating and changing mindsets about the importance of branding is the most challenging part of all for any brand consultants.

Juliana: What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made on the job?
Biggest mistake… Trusting marketing people to run by the branding book. They really don’t care whether the logo is supposed to be right or left, or the branding message supposed to say this or that. It only matters that they get their communication materials out. Don’t ever put that decision in their hands. Always go through and approve any communications to ensure that the brand identity is consistent throughout all communication.

Juliana: What is the biggest project the company had managed and was the turn out?
EON Bank went through a whole re-branding exercise 2 years ago. We painted it orange from its pale grey, we added in fresh breath into a stagnant brand, and we gave them a CI (Corporate Identity). While each branch used to look like a bank on its own, now it looks the same at any location in the country so that when customers walk in, they know it’s the same bank organisation. The re-branding exercise was executed inside out. I can’t give you all the details, it’s confidential, but I can say EON Bank was back in the game with a brand new identity and approach, and has seen growth in its market share. We were in the news since the rebranding exercise and the media is looking out for us.

Juliana: I see you have an outstanding online portfolio, has it helped you a lot in getting clients? Any tips in setting up a quality online portfolio?
Yes, my humble online portfolio has surprisingly open new doors for me beyond my expectations. I get enquiries on a weekly basis, and now I get to choose the projects that I want to work on. One tip about setting up a quality online portfolio – Simplicity. No point having a great portfolio if audience can’t view it conveniently. And of course, remember to only put in projects that you are proud of. An online portfolio is afterall, personal branding.

Juliana: Any good advice for future brand executives out there?
Advice… The key to successful branding is Consistency. Wear it like it’s your middle name.

Juliana: Loved your answers. Very inspiring. Thanks again for investing your time and energy on answering the questions! I hope to be as hardworking and successful like you one day! Keep up the good work!
You too, my dear. Hope you’ll discover greater passion for the things you love to do.

Copyright of Juliana Zainal Aznam

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