The Real Deal!
In my opinion, life's too short and the world's too small to behave with anything but integrity.
For 25 years, I've worked in-house, in-agency and independently, in a dozen different countries for clients of all sizes and sectors. I've been a director-level brand consultant for 15 years, advising C-suites on every aspect of their corporate brands. I know my stuff - and what I don't know, I'll willingly own up to.
On the side, I set up my own events business, dabbled in journalism and co-founded a marine conservation charity. I've learnt a lot of lessons and now it's time to share them!
I first got into branding 25 years ago - for some, that's literally a lifetime! I was living in London at the time and working in marketing for what was then the largest estate agency group in Europe. The brands in their portfolio were so well positioned that they could operate no less than three different estate agents on the exact same street without cannibalising each other. V.cool! I was fascinated by the psychology of it all (still am tbh) - how our brains work, how we react to information on both rational and emotional levels, how we make purchasing decisions and how we are so subjective to influence. Despite having previously dropped out of my Psychology degree in favour of Classics, this time I was determined... I was going to become a professional brand consultant. Naturally, of course, it wasn't that straightforward...
The Agency Years...
Despite my marketing experience and a Masters in Management, I still had to hustle my way into the agency of my dreams... but I got there and it was worth it. It then took seven years of proving myself and working my way up the ranks until I eventually earnt a Consultancy Director position with an international branding agency based in Hong Kong. This marked the start of a crazy, intense, unforgettable 10 years in Asia!
Hong Kong was a branding education all of its own, and not just the challenges of working cross-culturally or experiencing copywriting infringements on an unprecended scale (did you clock "The Chinese Professionals" poster in my photo?). An international trade centre that hosts a ton of household name brands, my corporate clients ranged from global real estate consultancies and multi-million dollar asset management firms to Chinese oil conglomerates and local educational organisations. The pace and diversity was mind-blowing but I loved it and soaked everything up.
However, what many people don't know is that Hong Kong's heart beats to the drum of millions of small business owners. Entrepeneurship runs deep in the territory's veins and I couldn't help but catch the bug myself. Whilst still working in agency, I also set up my own events business and co-founded a marine conservation charity. At the same time, I dabbled in Adventure Travel Journalism and being a Scuba Divemaster. I also started a side-hustle helping smaller businesses with their branding - everything from natural insect repellent to scrapbooking. And I found that I loved working with small businesses even more than I loved working in-agency...
Levelling The Brand Playing Field
Venturing out alone, I saw just how many small to medium size businesses needed sensible, strategic advice but didn't have the time, budget, inclination or know-how to go the "big agency" route. It just didn't seem fair. So, as a firm believer in fair advantage, I decided to take all of my years of experience, both in-house and agency, and offer it to small businesses for a fraction of my agency rack rate. I play hard but I play fair and I'd love to help your brand raise its game!
As a standalone strategist, I'm able to hit the ground running and offer a precisely tailored and highly effective solution. I'm also flexible with methodologies, fee structures and billing arrangements and I offer full Intellectual Property rights as standard. One of my core brand values is called "Your brand, your way" because I respect that every small business is unique.
The Personal Stuff
Hmm... what to share? Well, I love a challenge - watching JAWS as a kid left me with a fear of swimming in deep water... so I learnt to scuba dive to prove to myself that there was nothing down there to be afraid of. Whilst "down there", I fell in love with scuba diving and with all species of sharks - which is why I co-founded HK Shark Foundation. After all, if you're going to take the shark finning industry head on, you might as well do it in its world trade centre, right?
I'm a bit of an ancient history bird - for an entire year, I was the only student on my Ancient Near Eastern History module. I spent weeks sitting alone transcribing hieroglyphs in the Manchester Museum and Room 6 of the British Museum remains one of my absolute favourite places to be. People shook their heads when I told them that I wanted to study Latin and Ancient Greek but, as a lover of the English language, it made perfect sense to me. Still does.
I also love adventure travel - I once spent a month working my way overland from Hong Kong to Beijing. I was an Adventure Travel Journalist in Mongolia and a Dive Master in Australia. I've dived with manta rays in the Andaman Ocean, hammerheads in the Red Sea and weedy sea dragons in the Bass Strait. I've snorkelled with whalesharks, been trapped in a narrow underwater tunnel with an Oceanic Whitetip (my tip? reverse out very slowly), have run face-down a vertical cliff, jumped out of a plane, survived the world's second highest bungy jump, and been charged by a rhino in South Africa (saved by a very thorny bush). So many more stories... so little time!
I love all animals except cockroaches. My first job, aged 11, was as a "veterinary assistant". I got to stroke the noses of animals as they were put down if their owners were too distressed to be with them. I couldn't bear them to die alone - strange kid, but there you go. Now, I have a rescue dog from Bulgaria, a rescue cat from Warrington, 4 goldfish and 3 guinea pigs. Together with the 3 kids and 1 husband, you can understand why I have a long-standing appreciation of coffee!
What People Say About Me (to my face at least!)
“Rachel is truly one of a kind, a total powerhouse that can direct business and brands big and small around all things; strategy, brand, customer experience and market entry.”
PwC Partner and Chair of the Asia Marketing Society