By Goh De No (Published 30 November 2010 in The Brunei Times)

Singapore brand consultancy firm Consulus has set up shop in the Sultanate in the hopes of partnering with more local companies.

“When we initially came to Brunei, we were not sure what we did in other places like Singapore and the United States could be deployed here,” said the company’s director of strategy, Lawrence Chong.

He told The Brunei Times what Consulus brings is organisational branding, which looks at the purpose of the organisation, why it introduces a service and whether it is relevant to the business. “It’s a top-end kind of service and in an environment like here and everywhere else, which is still trying to find a place, it’s also not simple and straightforward,” he said.

He said that organisational branding is not just a new logo or a new advertisement.

“Those are fast. But when you talk about values, why do people say that? In Brunei, Singapore or China, it’s the same where a corporate value is created for the sake of sounding nice,” he said.

But when one starts to question those values, people actually start thinking about it.

“Bruneians also want to think about values and what it means to them,” said Chong.

Working with Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) on its Wish Campaign, Consulus found that there are people who feel that things need to move forward.

“Before we came, comments to us were that ‘Brunei wants to take it slow’, ‘be careful how you move’ or ‘don’t take things too fast’. Strange enough, that’s what everybody say, they say it’s not Bruneian but there is a significant minority who want change,” he said.

Chong said that there’s gear for change everywhere, Vietnamese or Chinese alike, they are all frightened of whether they get to keep their jobs or not.

“Let’s not assume this is a Bruneian issue, but I don’t agree Bruneians don’t want change. Fear of change is one thing, but Brunei is going to move forward regardless. The question is, how?” he said.

He hoped that Consulus can offer its partnership with Bruneians to do the “how” together.

“If you’re talking about BIBD, I’ll tell you that they are in a very good position as their campaign has brought them so much closer to their customers and that work will be transferred to the next campaign which you will hear about early next year,” Chong said.

He said that BIBD has “a lot of work happening in different levels”, adding that the bank is a big organisation and the amount of genuine effort put in by Bruneians is extraordinary.

“We aren’t rushing them, but we are building a credible thing which involves many people in the process. The hope is not to try to aim to be the most innovative or the most high-tech. That’s what everybody has, so we aim for a sincere experience because that’s what Bruneians can relate to,” he said.