TAFEP Hero 2023 Oct
human resources online

Case study: SureCatch World

SureCatch World changed more than its name under CEO Doris Toh’s helm. Sabrina Zolkifi finds out how it helped improve the brand’s employability.

Founded in 1926, Siow Chiang had established itself as a major player in the fishing tackle industry.

However, when Doris Toh took over the reins in 2006, she knew the company had to undergo a change if it wanted to stay relevant to both consumers and potential employees.

“Back then, I noticed people tended to identify Siow Chiang as SureCatch, one of our most successful house brands,” Toh says. “Wanting to unify the other brands that we owned and managed, we felt we needed an umbrella to represent our brands.

“At the same time, I felt that there was a strong need to revamp the company with modern management, while sustaining the heritage founded by my grandfather.”

In 2009, Siow Chiang embarked on a strategic rebranding initiative, working together with Consulus, its appointed brand consultancy, and supported by SPRING Singapore.

Under Toh’s supervision, the company spent the next two years reviewing its business operations and evaluating how staff and customers perceived the company and its brands.

“The valuable input we obtained through the review not only helped us to improve our products and service levels, but more importantly it gave us the necessary focus to align our activities to our purpose, vision and mission,” Toh shares.

In early 2011, the company was ready to reveal the new corporate image, and launched its rebranded house brands, SureCatch and ATC.

However, the journey was not a completely smooth one for Toh and her team. One of the biggest challenges was managing the change within the organisation, especially in terms of employee mindsets and culture. By addressing these challenges, Toh says the company was making sure the efforts laid during the branding exercise were not wasted.

Therefore, the company continued to work with Consulus for another year, building up Siow Chiang’s marketing team. The efforts were not in vain.

I’m pleased to say that by the end of this project, we’ve managed to hire and train our marketing team, who is focused on delivering results which are aligned to our brand direction.
But it was only in December 2012 that the company made the decision to rename Siow Chiang as SureCatch World.

“By now, we had developed a complete end-to-end offering due to the joint efforts of the team since our rebranding exercise. Thus, we wanted a name that could aptly capture the company’s spirit of innovation and commitment to creating great fishing experiences, as we reach out to more markets across the world.”

One of the reasons Toh says they decided to go with “SureCatch” was because the public had come to remember them by the product’s name.

“We decided to leverage on our most successful brand to develop an identity that could capture the company’s spirit of dynamism, and symbolise the collective force of new fishing tackle experiences that will shape the future.

“This new identity was finally unveiled to the world in February 2013, at the international China Fish Show in Beijing, China.”

Major stepping stones

One of the biggest drivers in the success of the rebranding, was Toh’s decision to build an internal team.

Previously, the company worked like a traditional family business and it took “considerable effort to explain to the staff that they did not need to be a family member to excel and lead in the company”.

The rebranding also helped SureCatch attract talent - a challenge in itself because of the niche fishing tackle industry the company was operating in. Toh says while it was hard to find those who understood both fishing and business, the rebranding efforts helped with attraction and retention.

“Staff could see that we were serious about improving the company, and potential hires – many of whom are anglers – are excited to join a growing firm that gives them more opportunities to learn and develop their skills sets,” she says.

It was during this challenging time Toh realised her decision to work with Consulus paid off, “because this was highly sensitive, and it was important that we addressed the staff’s fears and concerns”.

Toh also made it a point to set the right tone at the start of the strategic review session and subsequent brand training workshops and meetings.

I believe in people and leadership, and in order for people to go with me as a team, I had to continually communicate the right message to them, and set a good example.
SureCatch also appointed an internal team called the Brand Circle to help encourage staff to live out the core values and corporate philosophy of “Catch the Next Wave”, and organise activities to help strengthen the internal culture.

Making the change inside and out

“To me, branding is not just about the name, logo or website. It is about business sustainability, through a purpose-led, inside-out approach,” Toh says.

This meant the company restructured the organisation, consolidating selected business operations and creating new leadership positions, such as head of product development and head of business development.

The strategic review also helped focus and clarify how the company wanted to grow its brands.

Toh says they developed clear and distinct positioning for each of our four house brands, and chose to discard more than 50% of their existing lines of products and realign them to meet the changing market needs.

“This meant evaluating and optimising how different teams – sales, product development and marketing – worked together to achieve common outcomes for the company.”

Despite being an SME and having to deal with the common misconception towards HR being a purely administrative function versus being strategic, Toh says it was important to “look at the heart of any business strategy” and realise it all boils down to implementation.

“And implementation is really about people,” she adds.

Toh also credits her 12-year experience as an HR practitioner in an American MNC for helping her create a competitive advantage for the company using strategic HR.

She says the effective development and implementation of strategy also depends greatly on the capability of the company to find the fit between defining its direction and allocating the necessary resources to achieve its strategy.

“Understanding this critical link is key in driving change,” she says.

Trying to change a company which has operated the same way over the last few decades is a huge challenge, and the process requires a lot of stamina and emotional strength - probably more so given the additional hurdle of having family members involved.

On top of understanding strategic HR, having the corporate power to make change happen also helped in sustaining change.

“This is why when I took over the company, I insisted on being the final decision maker. Sometimes, it is very difficult for the people around you to fully comprehend the intent or final outcome that you want to achieve, especially if their experience with the company has panned over many years,” Toh says.

As a leader setting the strategy, Toh says it is important to understand such human dynamics will and can have a strong impact on the success of implementation.

“This drives home the point of having a strong leader who can make decisions when implementing or driving any important changes for any organisation.”

Advice for others

For companies working on rebranding initiatives, Toh says they must be very selective in choosing who to work with, because a “strategic rebranding exercise is not simply a facelift” - it often involves dealing with hard truths and making tough decisions about your organisation.

“Look for a consultancy with experience in working from an organisational approach and focus on effecting change from the inside-out. These are the ones who will journey with you to implement the change that you need to move your organisation to the next stage of growth,” she says.

Secondly, Toh says to identify and clarify the vision for the company, as the organisation embarks on rebranding.

She says questions leaders should be asking include, ‘How do you intend to grow the business?’ and ‘What are the milestones you intend to achieve as a result of rebranding?’ She adds: “Branding is only a means to achieving greater business success, so it cannot be an end in itself.”.

Finally, she says leaders have to be open about what changes may entail as a result of the rebranding.

“Remember, as an insider you may be blindsided by preconceived notions, so it’s good to have a third party expert to evaluate the company objectively and verify those notions, to make sure that you are on the right track.”

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