Brand Soul Malaysia, one of the fastest growing branding & marketing consultancy firm in Malaysia, recently announced its collaboration with Bizlife, the first Chinese online business portal in Malaysia that pioneers reporting of ethical companies. Their collaboration is aimed to help local SMEs who want to increase their brand visibility through leveraging the brand strength of listed companies and exclusive interviews. SMEs have been the bedrock of Malaysia’s economy, contributing 37% to Malaysia’s total GDP. While many may attribute their success to Information & Communication Technology (ICT), a greater enabler for traditional businesses or tech startups is the use of social networks and cloud-based services or data analytics. Truth be told, most of them would struggle when it comes to promoting their brands online, marketing their products to the right target markets and generating leads.   One phenomenon of note is that SMEs tend to adopt the trial and error attitude; using different promotional approaches or advertising to drive sales without having much marketing research and experience. As long as there is an increase in sales, it is considered as a ‘job well done’.   While sales-driven strategy has proven to be very useful for companies to achieve their short term objective which is to boost sales, they are not able to retain brand loyalty from customers which is far more important for long-term success. In fact, research shows 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that offers personalised experiences compared to a brand that just focuses on doing sales. (Epsilon)   To address this common branding challenge faced by SMEs and startups, the key initiative of the partnership is to provide a platform for companies to unleash their brand voice, by featuring their brand stories in the form of exclusive interviews, business articles, videos and brand partnership with other local business giants. SMEs and startups can now jump on the bandwagon to increase their company credibility and to position themselves as an industry expert.   “We’re very excited to embark on this partnership journey with Bizlife as we share the same vision to create an ecosystem for SMEs and startups where they can flourish and strengthen their branding efforts, as well as providing a genuine online business platform besides the mainstream media to allow their brands to be seen and heard by their target market. Not only that, it’s very cost-effective for companies who have a limited budget but want to maximise their brand visibility through PR efforts,” said Stella Wong, founder of Brand Soul Malaysia.   “Consumers are getting smarter and smarter nowadays. With digitization and information available everywhere, SMEs today have no other option but to establish their brand presence online with the goal of not only promoting their products or services, but to build relationships with their target market. If you refer to marketing statistics, 86% of consumers prefer an authentic and honest brand personality on social networks (Sprout Social, 2016). I believe it says a lot about what we should do as a brand consultant to ensure our clients outperform the market and to build a long-lasting relationship with their target market.” She added.   “We’re thrilled to establish a partnership with Brand Soul Malaysia, one of the fastest growing branding consultancy firms with a proven track record of serving organisations of all sizes to achieve branding and marketing best practices. This partnership marks an important milestone, not only for Bizlife and Brand Soul Malaysia, but for SMEs and startups who want to raise the bar for branding, and to share their business growth journey to inspire more entrepreneurs and readers,” says Fann Hoo, co-founder of Bizlife.   “Whilst our goal is to provide SMEs and startups a genuine online business platform to elevate their brand visibility and to tell a great brand story, we strongly believe that companies with good business ethics will create greater value as it translates to long-term sustainability. As such, only companies which have gone through a brand assessment monitored by Brand Soul Malaysia will be featured on Bizlife’s platform. They will be promoted as an ethical organisation that can be trusted with confidence.” She added.   One of the initiatives that are already up and running is co-branding opportunity with well-respected listed companies in Malaysia. Brand Soul Malaysia and Bizlife are currently looking for ethical companies who want to increase publicity in the upcoming video interviews and news articles which will be published in the mid of September.