Is brand heritage a burden or boon in a fast changing world? For Tong Heng, a Singapore pioneer in Cantonese pastries with over 80 years of history, &Larry deep-dived into the heart of the brand and its people to discover the essence of what makes Tong Heng “東興” (Happiness in the East). From the initial phase of brand discovery through development and design, we worked with the owners to clarify and craft a new identity that reconnects the brand with a younger generation while staying true to their heritage.
To create a great brand identity, you need to get the fundamentals right. &Larry took the time to investigate the history of the brand, interviewing the owners, staff and customers and asking the right questions to understand what makes Tong Heng special. From this process, we gained insights to Tong Heng’s enduring appeal within the Chinese community as the go-to for celebrating baby showers, betrothals, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. This sense of bringing joy to people became the guiding principle for our design approach. The new logo, for example, incorporates the essence of ‘Joy In A Bite’ within the Chinese radicals of the character for Joy.
The packaging design eschews the typical aesthetics of a ‘modern traditional’ brand for a decidedly young-at-heart look. The three colour variants are illustrated with rich Chinese symbology, and are designed with modular inserts to keep delicate pastries securely in place during transport.
For main store in Chinatown, &Larry worked closely with Nomura Design on the customer journey experience and also to ensure that the staff have ample room to work in. Special care was given to the materiality to enhance the sense of place and time, as as to modernising the product displays for the Instagram generation. These principles were also executed for the smaller satellite store in Jurong Point.
&Larry also advised the owners on rationalising their social media presence, and created a distinct online personality through the use of original illustrations, a unified art direction for food photography, and creating a regular series of video content that offered followers a glimpse of the personalities and processes behind their favourite pastries.
With the launch of its new brand image, Tong Heng has not only attracted attention beyond the usual audience, but also garnered positive buzz from the media and food bloggers.
The outcome? Singaporeans and tourists alike have welcomed the new Tong Heng with open arms, driving up footfall, customer engagement and sales. The rebranding has also brought intangible gains, attracting younger job applicants who have brought a new sense of energy to their customer service, and organically growing their online followers by 5x while preserving the value proposition of their core product.