I’m a linguistics geek, so those who have been following my professional development would notice the changes in my business branding over the past seven years relating to punctuations. If you’re wondering what Comma Consultancy actually means, bear with me as I bring you on a journey.
I searched up the definition of punctuation, and strangely enough, its meaning fits into my journey so far as a remote, self-employed professional.
noun. the marks, such as full stop, comma, and brackets, used in writing to separate sentences and their elements and to clarify meaning.
My professional work experience in the past ten years have been truly ‘separate’ journeys and I think the way these punctuations (my brand names) clarify meaning in my journey have been quite signifcant.
It started with just Wix.com
I left my first full-time job as an Editor in Marshall Cavendish Malaysia in 2012 and became a “permanent freelance” writer, editor and translator when I was 24. At that time, I had no network to fall back to – just really determined to write from the heart, work hard, meet deadlines, and I believe it will pay off. It was a slow start, but I must say I never had a month go by that I couldn’t pay my bills nor support my family. For that, I am thankful to God for His provision.
At that time, my portfolio was just hosted on wix.com. It looked clunky, but it was free for starters like me. It worked at a time when people didn’t care much about branding, but more about the work that you can do. Using my wit, it helped some clients believe in my work.
I started building up clients but it was mostly through word-of-mouth, and very few leads came from my Wix site.
And then Word Espress
Two years into freelancing, I was more comfortable and decided it was time to get my own domain, trade name and branding. I hired my brother, CK, who was a talented Art Director to help me create the new branding. My USP at that time was to demonstrate that many people can write, but not many can express their words well. So it became, “Word Espress – Your Words. Finely espressed” – a word play on ‘espresso’. I often cringe at my cheesy tagline as we always do with our past. But amazingly, many people liked it, and it was this tagline that got me selected among a pool of writers to be the first designer at Traveloka Malaysia back in 2015.
“I often cringe at my cheesy tagline, as we always do with our past.”
After I had comfortably built up a portfolio of over 20-30 clients doing a range of writing from magazine cover stories, business writing, corporate profile, script writing, book development, developmental editing for fiction, web content, advertising, trade fair show dailies; I made my next change.
Growing in a tech-startup and design discipline
In July 2015, I was headhunted by Traveloka, a tech unicorn in Jakarta at that time, looking to expand its international presence. I was first brought in as a Content Editor. Today, Traveloka is a familiar name in online travel booking as well as on its way to be a Super App in Southeast Asia.
It almost felt like founding a company together, except that I did not have financial stake in the company. The adrenaline-pumped days of working as a team of two with my country manager and frequently travelling to Jakarta and Singapore to align with regional stakeholders transitioned slowly into building the design team from scratch to accommodate the growing needs.
From coordinating market research, to starting up the SEO presence, dabbling in regional UX editing, project managing the Bahasa Malaysia locale launch, to being accountable for my team of 17, it has been such an exhilarating journey and I’ve learnt so much.
Each team member is unique and carefully hired as a culture-add to further enrich the team’s offerings. Until today, each of them still feel like family to me 🙂
In late 2017, I left my role as Design Lead in Traveloka Malaysia & Singapore to go back to self-employment. Here is a photo of the team as I last left them, some of whom I still meet and keep in touch dearly.
Full Stop: Words with stopping power
A few months after I left Traveloka, I embarked on my new branding. After almost 2.5 years working with some of the best designers and design leaders in Asia, I learnt to not just write finely, but to write words with stopping power. I was more equipped with what might work for users. That led to my new branding in 2018, Full Stop – my first punctuation 🙂
Between 2018-2019, I focused on working with not more than two clients at a time while maximising my impact. I was approached to be a remote content strategy consultant to Traveloka Headquarters’ content strategist – a role I learnt so much from again. Over the next two years, I spent my time mentoring and helping the content strategist in her craft, mostly navigating process design. I was also given the role of Mentor to their senior design leads, which I held for a year – all done remotely as they are based in Jakarta, Indonesia while I am based in Malaysia. In between those two roles, I also had short stints of mentoring for the Design Lead in Malaysia, as well as research and strategy opportunities with MABECS.
As I step into this new stage, I realise that I am standing at a new juncture again. I am no longer just writing and crafting content – I enjoy mentoring and teaching others principles of design thinking, how to create content strategy, how to listen deeply, how to meet larger needs of the audience by applying problem space knowledge as taught by Indi Young, and more.
Hello to Comma Consultancy
This led me to rebrand myself again to Comma Consultancy.
The idea behind Comma Consultancy is to widen the area of services I can offer. It is beyond just writing, but consulting, coaching and research. A lot of times, writing is perceived and done as an ‘execution phase’, but many businesses and orgs don’t realise the need to start with problem space knowledge before writing or creating any content. This leads to better products and innovation later on. I will be writing more on this next time.
Comma is a pause or break between words, and that’s what I want to bring across in my service. I want to help companies take that break to realign, listen and understand their audience better and deeper. I do this by applying problem space knowledge, which involves understanding a person’s purpose and cultivating empathy.
I’ll write more soon as I journey on 🙂 Thank you for reading so far!