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Azure Design - Interview with founder Azure Lorraine

Tonight our guest is Azure Lorraine. She is a serial-entreprenuer, founder, creative and vision director of Azure Design. It is a creative design firm. Azure is originally from Los Angeles but she has worked and travelled all over the world, including Hong Kong, London. She recently opened a second office of Azure Design in Atlanta. Headquarter is in Hong Kong. She builds brands and markets for corporate businesses and recently started working with artists (musicians) to help branding, online and offline marketing. We have conducted an interview with her.

How did you grow from your Hong Kong headquarter to a second HQ for your creative design agency in Atlanta USA?

It all exploded in 2016, with the work I did for one of my clients Foodpanda, one of the biggest food delivery start up giants based in Berlin, Germany. I was appointed to create their Hong Kong Foodpanda magazine, a digital lifestyle and food magazine. From concept and column creation, copywriting to photography and event and vendor management, I was hands on from getgo. After building content that generated over 1 million active users and readers on their social media platforms, I got the opportunity to work with international artists and musicians. 

I was on tour with a band and several artists and people really enjoyed the quality and creativity of my work. I have been creating brand design, merchandize, social media content, photography, videography for music videos and booking reels.  I have also been posting my journey on Instagram actively. Overtime, our Instagram grew and built an ever-growing audience with artists, producers, DJs, bloggers and corporate clients worldwide. Azure Design has business connection in UK, Europe, particularly Germany, China and US. One thing led to another, our US based clients increased significantly, as actors, musicians and independent record labels reached out, needing global branding. One of the most important factors as a serial entrepreneur is to give customers confidence in my brands. After extensive research and planning, I decided to set up a second office for our US market and picked Atlanta as our second home.

Which stage was the most challenging?

I will have to say it is the idea of expanding and finding the right city for the second office. Different states and countries have different laws. It can be overwhelming to be diving into a new market, and into the unknown. I made sure everything was researched thoroughly and planned strategically, to minimize problems which would have arisen along the expanding phase.
The other challenging part was to understand the workflow and culture within the entertainment and music business. The process can be more far complicated than just working with a corporate client or company, since you may be involved with managers, tour managers, labels, and their executives, A&Rs and festival organizers. It was also crucial to make sure my team members, and myself are equipped with knowledges and aware of the problems which may pop up in the process so we can have the best possible solutions in place. I even completed a course in Music Business through Berklee online last summer. I am a strong believer of 'knowledge is power'.

Why/ How different are entertainers/artists as compared to corporate clients?

When working with corporate brands, the first thing you need to consider is credibility. How does the total brand image reflect on the company's philosophy, services and how does it look in the public eye? Say you are a bank, you will want to provide a strong, clean, grounded image to make people feel you are trustworthy, powerful, professional. The process is more trust building and oriented.

Whereas branding an artist or musician, we get to be more creative. At the same time, it is more challenging, because you need to understand their fanbases, not just regionally, nationally but globally. Just how far can their music reach? It is a much wider and broader range of demographics, culture, consumer psychology: it is about what is possible and do whatever you can to maximize the horizon, with your total brand image. With music branding, the sky is the limit.

How did your company meet their needs?

Azure Design is the one stop solution for any company or artist, meaning once they decide to hire us, everything their brands need are already within the project outline. We analyze what your brand needs, and you don't have to worry about hiring someone else for individual things, like content creation, press kit design, copywriting. The first thing we do is market research, to understand their target audience and demographics. This is essential to help a company grow healthily and expand its longevity. Branding is not just a logo, it is how you communicate with your paying and potential customers, increase profits and ROI in a long run.

No one wants to start a business and have it fail after a year, right?

What are some ways you would recommend to make any business look professional?

Wow, that's a great question. I could write a book about it! First of all, take a look closely of why you want to start a business. What kind of business is it? How competitive is it in the market? Write a business plan. The plan is a must because it helps you understand your own business and how you will pitch to your clients and market. 

Next is to consider your branding image, I can't stress it enough: Whether you are a startup or an artist, don't hire someone from a design contest or a low fee platform. Sure you pay a few dollars to have someone make a logo or flyer for you on the go, the way you want it. Unfortunately, it does more bad to the brand than good. Once your reputation is destroyed, it takes a long time to rebuild. Branding is not about what a business owner wants. It is about what your potential customers need and how you connect with them. We have had clients who did that and came to us for rescue. Have a strong foundation of a brand will help your business increase creditability and revenue in a long run. Remember, you are in it for the long haul.

Why are branding and visual elements that important?

Let me just say it out loud: Branding makes or breaks a business! Branding and visual elements are the first impression, just like you show up at a job interview and you want to impress and land the job you want! Branding is your identity. The way you dress immediately gives a quick summary of who you are, what you look/feel like, and how others feel about you will impact your success of getting the job. Branding is not just a logo, it is about communicating visually and emotionally with your potential hires and customers, through in-depth research and creative approach.

How does your 'vision board' on Instagram help in lead generation and sales generation?

I love working on Instagram! It is one of my favorite social playgrounds. To me, social media is not just about a selfie or a photo of your dog in the park. When used correctly and creatively, you can influence people to do good, feel good and even buy your goods. 

Azure Design has accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube as well but I have a very dynamic strategy just for our Instagram alone. We understand who we want to attract, who our audiences are. I take a lot of photos and videos. I think about the purposes of each post. I use a combination of creativity, inspiration and soft selling approach to showcase my work.

Our vision board tells a story, usually with 3 or 6 grids. When you click onto Azure Design's Instagram, you will see that one horizontal line has an overall and particular feeling and style. We use visuals (photography and videography) and creative writing (post) to engage and interact with followers visually and emotionally. We also use well-researched hashtags to increase our followings. The hard work starts when people interact with you through comments and direct messages. 

The advice I will give when promoting your brand on social media: Avoid using automated messages to spam your followers. Be personal, polite and creative, initiate a conversation and don't hard sell. Monitor and understand your analytics. Most importantly, have fun with it! When you are genuinely interested in people, people will give you the love you deserve. I message followers personally and I have been making a lot of amazing new friends worldwide. 

The perfect example is when we promoted our SOLD-OUT branding consultation workshop back in March for Atlanta businesses and musicians (which we will be starting again this summer!). These were all promoted through Instagram and all slots were sold out because of our Instagram vision board. Social Media marketing is a full-time task but I love every minute of it!

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Azure Design - Interview with founder Azure Lorraine Reviewed by JaamZIN on 9:27:00 PM Rating: 5
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