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Building a cult brand: the Razer way

Building the cult brand out of Singapore

Brands that inspire devotion from customers may just inspire them to blindly buy whatever products the brand hawks. Yet few brands can say their fans literally brand themselves by getting a tattoo of the brand logo like Razer.

It is hard to imagine that the global gaming product giant emerged from the little island of Singapore 12 years ago. Part of building a startup to the global brand it is today is a razer sharp focus on its niche, according to Min-Liang Tan, co-founder, chief executive officer and creative director, Razer.

“We focused on a niche, we built on a niche, we made sure we built the very best product and services for the niche, then we scaled and scaled. While we were scaling, we were focused on doing the best we could and maintaining our edge,” said Tan at his talk at Innovfest Unbound 2017 in Singapore.

Focusing on this niche and scaling has led the brand to move beyond gaming peripherals to building gaming laptops, launching its own virtual currency, Z Gold and even acquiring Lucasfilm THX earlier in 2017. This is in line with the brand’s tagline, ‘for gamers, by gamers.’

“We are incredibly excited about the gaming niche but bear in mind we are not a gaming company, we are a company for gamers, they don’t just play games, they listen to music and watch movies,” said Tan.

Finding talent anywhere in the world is another step Razer took in building its brand, according to Tan, eschewing the talk of being unable to find talent.

“Do you know how global businesses are today? Do you know how global development teams are, whether it is software or hardware perspective? That’s something we did so, fortunately or unfortunately, we are opening offices everywhere, not for business but for the talent that we can find,” said Tan.

The final step is always constantly talking to the users and customers directly, according to Tan.

“This is one of the things I find mind-boggling; that such an opportunity is always engage your customer, 24/7, all the time, which many companies out there aren’t doing. We are always constantly talking to the user and going to where the users are, we also built our own channel to make sure that our messages are always being transmitted to the users out there,” said Tan.

Marketing and bucking the trend

So how does Razer market its products, especially when it has laptops starting from $4,000, in a sector where Chinese competitors often do it for cheaper?

“We actually don’t spend a lot on marketing, our focus is normally on research and development (R&D) and engineering. A lot of the marketing is driven by our distributors. As for ourselves, we focus on the users, we reach out to them through social media and our focus is really on designing cool products,” said Tan.

“Most traditional companies look at price brackets and then decide to shoehorn the product into a price bracket, whereas we are gamers and are designing it for ourselves, and not for a price bracket,” he added.

In addition to that, Razer is also opening new retail stores, bucking the trend that retail is dying. Tan believes these stores serve a purpose beyond just being an outlet for customers to get products.

“It provides a direct conduit to customers. We get mall operators and owners coming to us and telling us how to sell more and push more product, but we operate and design the store exactly the way we want it to be. I want no one to bug me, I want to play games all day long,” said Tan.

“The store promotes the experience, we’ve got weekend tournaments, YouTubers coming into the store, we want it to be like a temple that all gamers can come to, we want to be ‘for gamers, by gamers.’

“It’s for a person who walks into the store, who is not a user, not a customer, not a fan, in order to understand our design ethos, our engineering philosophy, our mantra. We are selling our philosophies; that’s where the store is able to show it off in real life,” he added.

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