When former CMO of OCBC Bank, group marketing, global consumer financial services, Yvonne Low, stepped down from her position last year, she did not expect herself to become an entrepreneur. Low (pictured) recently launched her own company known as Band of Sisters, specialising in resistance bands that are stylish yet functional.
Having been in the corporate world for 25 years, Low told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that she had always wanted to take a break from the hustle and bustle, and spend quality time with her family. However, this perspective changed when she encountered two very inspirational mothers who became entrepreneurs themselves. This led her to start her journey into the world of fitness, first by becoming an ACE certified personal trainer. Thereafter, Low decided to start a company in the same field but targeted mainly at women. Hence, she researched different types of fitness equipment that she could build her brand around.
While Low initially thought about creating a business selling different types of fitness equipment, she eventually narrowed down her search to resistance bands. Low explained that bands, in general, offer good range in strength training, flexibility, and mobility. While she found the functionality of bands interesting, Low realised it was lacking on the aesthetics front. In this case, the resistance bands would not appeal to her female target audience.
It was then when Low decided to add variety to the resistance bands in terms of material and style. This aspect was important for Low because she wanted to use her new company to drive home the message of strength training among women. Having zeroed in on her brand proposition and value, Low wanted to come up with a meaningful name for her company.
"As a former marketer and advertising professional, I knew I couldn't just settle on a simple name such as 'Resistance'," she said. Instead, Low wanted the name to be about female empowerment, supporting women to get started on strength training, and the celebration of women in general. Hence, she landed on the name Band of Sisters.
The story behind Band of Sisters is pretty important for me because it's not just an e-shop. It is a brand that believes in empowering women and getting more women to do strength training.
"At Band of Sisters, we believe in educating, enabling and empowering. So the education part will be through content on the importance of strength training and good activation. That's one very key thing with now a lot of work from home, everybody's sitting down so much, and therefore, the biggest part of the biggest muscle in your body, it's not even activated," she said. As part of its brand proposition of helping users turn resistance bands into a simple, affordable, and accessible form of exercise, Band of Sisters' website has a few workouts that consumers can try out with its bands.
"The differentiation is I'm definitely not going to be able to fight a goliath such as Decathlon, but at the same time my target audience is pretty niche and my intent is to educate people on resistance bands," she said.
Leveraging word of mouth marketing
It has been approximately six weeks since Band of Sisters officially launched and Low told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that much of her marketing and brand awareness has been done through word of mouth via her network of family and friends. Likewise, it was also important for Low that her network understood the story behind Band of Sisters.
"We're fortunate to have some influencer friends who were kind enough to give us some shoutouts with their followers as well as Instagram Stories. Another friend also did a blog post about resistance bands," she said. The brand ambassadors featured on Band of Sisters' website are also Low's friends, two of whom she met through her ACE certification course and the other two from her time in the adland.
"[The brand ambassadors] are people of different backgrounds and ages who came together and supported me on this vision and journey of starting Band of Sisters," she explained. As of now, Low is currently focused on top-of-funnel marketing through Facebook, Instagram and Search.
"At this point in time when you search my brand, it's not [on the first page of Google] yet because it's still new. We're trying to get the site approved by Google in terms of some of the analytics. So I would say driving awareness is still a priority," she said, adding:
Unless consumers know who you are, what you offer, and how it benefits them, you could have a super good product but still be a best kept secret.
In 2022, Low plans to focus more on affiliate marketing with relevant fitness groups and double down on the education aspect of her brand. She is currently in talks with an academy to conduct band classes so women will know how to use the resistance bands effectively.
From marketer to brand owner
Prior to Band of Sisters, Low was CMO of OCBC Bank’s Consumer Financial Services for two years. During her time there, she was responsible for planning, developing and executing strong GTM plans in both the traditional and new digital platforms for the bank. Low also led a team of 40 and was part of the Singapore outlet's core leadership team. Before that, Low was senior director of marketing for menu and digital innovation at McDonald's for more than five years. At McDonald's, Low was required to provide strategic leadership, drive creative and execution excellence for the McDonald’s brand.
She also worked at Courts Asia, DDB and McCann Erickson. Having worked with teams throughout her career, Low said one of the challenges of being a brand owner is the one-man operation. "You have so many ideas and so many things you want to do, but you only have so much time in a day," she said.
Low acknowledged that in the past, having a team allowed her to accomplish several tasks at once because there were different functions covering strategy, digital marketing, CRM, retargeting, and content creation, for example. But now, Low has to map out the sequence of her tasks to maximise the amount of time she has in a day. "But I think the beauty of having your own business is that you are solely accountable for the results you get," she explained.
"Unlike in an organisation where you can put in 110%, there are still many stakeholders you need to manage and you might not get the results you want. That's where the complexity comes in," she added.
OCBC CMO of group marketing Yvonne Low to exit role
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