#AOTYAwards spills: Louken Group shares what clients want and trends for 2021


Branding and communication company Louken Group has been actively growing its acquisitions. Last year, the team took home the gold for Brand and Design consultancy of the year and silver for consultant of the year.

The awards come shortly after is acquisition of a 51% stake in UI/UX design consultancy firm UXE. Based in Singapore, UXE specialises in user experience for online and offline, focusing on seamless journey design and leveraging on tech as a core. This was to reinforce Louken’s strength in the ecosystem to assist clients in user experience design, branding and digital activation, leveraging on data-centric approach. 

We speak to Noah Lee, lead brand director on the agency's plans for the future. 

What are some of the expectations your consumers now have for your brand?

Lee: Louken has come a long way. From a branding agency to where we are today, focused on transforming brands and businesses inside out, expectations from clients have become much higher. Developing a good brand is now hygiene. When clients work with Louken, they expect innovation and breakthroughs that stem from solid user research and a robust partnership model that can enable them to develop core expertise or competitive advantages to allow clear brand differentiation. Often, these require a strategic mash of customer experience work, branding, tech development, people training and sometimes even M&A advisory. Only when these dovetails nicely can we truly create a strong, sustainable brand for client that delivers inside-out, from product to people and a robust business model that is attractive to customers, employees and investors.

How has your marketing/your clients marketing plans shifted this year?

Lee: With these expectations, clients look for integrated solutions that can move their business to the next level. More clients are looking for a full-fledged agency that is able to support them across multiple facets of the project from research, development, marketing campaigns, ecommerce development, franchising and customer service training etc. The end goal for clients is straightforward – results, and working with one agency allows them to have a singular control that can oversee the brand transformation to achieving the desired results.

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

Lee: One of the key trends that we are seeing and likely to continue moving forth is how employees can work remotely and still remain productive and effective. This is an interesting trend that can potentially disrupt many businesses and industries. What COVID-19 has done really successfully is catalysed the digital transformation of most companies, pushing them to be ready for a fluid workforce that can cross-collaborate effectively anywhere.

For this to work, a high level of tech adoption and a robust, structured set of working processes must be followed to a T for all employees. This is why Louken has always been adding suitable partners to the collective expertise of our Group while deploying design thinking repeatedly to reduce workflow overlaps, increase efficiency in cross-specialisations collaborations and ensure new staff that joins us familiarizes with processes and methodologies quickly.

We have also aggressively onboarded our workforce onto cloud platforms for multiple functions across the organization in the past years. This has allowed better cross-team collaborations, increased visibility across workloads and projects and enabled the team to work remotely as effectively, if not more, despite the circuit breaker measures.

We are constantly re-looking into how our business can be better enhanced to create more value for our customers. In the next year, we are on track to deliver greater digitization of brand assets and crucial marketing/delivery processes for our clients to compete more effectively in an increasingly digital world. Internally, we will also be re-looking into how to scale to meet increasing demand for our services through tech adoption and resource planning.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Lee: We believe great marketing have not changed significantly from the past. Whatever is creative and is able to resonate strongly with users’ psychological needs and desires will always make great marketing. What has changed is the playground for these ideas to be communicated and expressed. Also, we have always espoused staying true to your brand values and personality regardless of the latest trends but being able to speak to them with relevance to times.

How are you planning for 2021?

Lee: Remote working for almost the whole of 2020 has reminded us to continue fostering a tight and supportive culture of growth within Louken. This is made more apparent because remote working can often result in a microscopic focus on being productive and task-centric. Throughout the year, we managed to still conduct our retrospectives and internal retreats (lawfully!) whenever possible, though I will have liked us to be able to do that more often! This is a continuous process that we wish to ramp up on in 2021 as laws relax on gathering restrictions.

This is crucial as we continue to evolve to offer more synergistic services to help clients transform their brands and businesses. We will require deeper cross-collaborations chemistry and tightened internal workflow and processes to generate higher value and impactful results for clients.