Live Learn Love

Hello!! It’s been a while since I’ve last blogged. I promised in my last entry that there would be a 3 part series regarding our vision, our tagline and our legacy. Well, it’s taken me a little longer than I expected but I hope you enjoy this read :)

If you know HDI today, you will see our tagline “Live Learn Love” accompanying our logo everywhere. Its not just a tagline however- it also reflects on the values of our organization. Many times, I have people coming up to me and telling me that they love it. It is simple, yet meaningful, and they feel an emotional connection to it.

But our tagline wasn’t something that we plucked out of thin air. It was through an extremely dedicated process that we arrived at our simple yet very meaningful statement.

When HDI first started in 1986 as High-Desert, we didn’t have a tagline. Then, we focussed on developing the brand High-Desert, a reference to the place in USA where our products originally came from. It was only later on when our network marketing business started taking off that Peter Chia, my father, created the tagline” The Helping People Business”. In his mind, High-Desert was a business that empowered individuals to help themselves improve their lives, after which they would be able to help others improve their lives as well. This was one of the first cornerstones in differentiating High-Desert from other network marketing companies. He felt that it wasn’t just about making money or having great success on your own- he wanted to create a sense of purpose, which was to enable people to make a difference in their lives and those around them.

In the early 2000s, the tagline was shortened to “Helping People”. This change was conscious: he didn’t want the act of helping people to be limited to just through our business- he wanted people to embrace the concept of helping one another as human beings by being genuine, sincere and honest. Not only that, my father was starting to look seriously into how he could actively give back to society. He started thinking about the business as more than a business- he wanted it to become a movement where people would think beyond themselves.

Through this new direction, he funded the purchase of the land that Kampeong Kids stands today as well as set up HDI Foundation in 2005 to build schools in Indonesia for the poor. He was adamant that education was the key towards helping people improve their lives. This was his way of helping people. Around the same time, he started his message of LOVE though his Harmony of Love program. He wanted people to know that it was only through love that we could break down walls between people and improve relationships. His actions were perceived as cheesy. After all, at that time love did not exist in a business environment. People laughed at him but he persisted in his message. We even had a love and care program which he initiated that thought our distributors how to do our business with love. It was an uphill struggle for him but never once did he give up. He truly believed that by changing people’s mindset one person at a time, he would achieve his eventual goal of making this world just a little better.

In the mid 2000s, I had taken over the Philippine operations. In Philippines, our set up was unique- we had different companies operating in different industries. Each company had its own identity and somehow the entire organization had nothing to show that they were all related. I remember sitting down one day trying to figure out what was the best way to tie all these companies together. This was the birth of the HDI red brick logo- something inspired by Lego, one of my favorite toys growing up. I used this image because I wanted our brand to be the building block of many different successful businesses, each with perhaps a different purpose, but sharing the same values and philosophy. It was also the creation of the new tagline “Inspiring Better Lives”. What this meant to me was that all HDI companies, regardless of nature or industry, should exist to inspire people and to help better their lives. With this change in the group look, HDI was on its way towards having a consistent brand and image.

I remember in 2010 when I first caught sight of another company in Singapore using the same tagline. It was a large property development company. On one hand, I was pretty happy that we shared the same vision, but at the same time I wasn’t too keen to share a tagline with another organization. So I started thinking seriously about what I wanted HDI to represent. I did my research, studied branding strategies and talked to people in the industry. Ironically, the more I read, the less I felt I knew. There was just so many things to consider. In the end, I realized that if I was going to brand the organization successfully, I didn’t need to just understand the company- I needed to understand who I was as a person. That was the only way to achieve some form of consistency. And so began my journey of self discovery.

Over the next 2 years, I evolved very quickly as a person: learning, applying, failing and correcting myself. I was lucky at my age to experience running 5 different types of businesses in 4 different countries. This helped me to accelerate my learning process. I was also lucky to have been surrounded by people who helped me and supported me as I stumbled along in my journey. Their teachings were invaluable in helping me become the leader that I wanted to be.

In 2013, in preparation towards taking over the entire HDI of companies, I wanted something that would reflect our growing international presence. The idea was to create not just a recognizable visual symbol that represented what the brand meant to me but also a tagline that was unique and meaningful. I had taken ownership of the brand and it was time to express my own thoughts through it.

We brainstormed with many different graphic artists to come up with designs but none of them resonated with me. They were just designs. There was no significance to them. Finally, we found an international brand agency based in Hong Kong. I saw their work and arranged to meet them. We spent a good 2 hours talking about what the brand meant to me and what I wanted out of it.

Over the next 10 weeks, we had 7 presentations. In the 2nd presentation, there was one design that caught my eye- it was a design that was inspired by the beehive. Simple, yet expressive, it was something that I liked very much. We used that as a starting point to the beehive “ribbon” logo you see today.

At the same time, I was trying to come up with a new tagline. The first one I came up with was ” Learning to Inspire”. The idea behind this was to have it interpreted in 2 ways: That in HDI, to inspire others requires us to be humble and to learn from experiences. The other was that it should represent our journey of self evolution- from learning to inspiring. My opinion was through a culture of learning, we would inspire the next generation of individuals and companies. I also liked the fact that we could retain the “Inspire” from the previous tagline.

When I discussed with my father about this, his reaction was lukewarm. He mentioned that it didn’t have anything to do with helping people anymore. I explained that we may not be able to help everyone, but we could inspire other people around us. He asked: what about about love? He had spent the last 8 years of his life trying to get people to see love as a necessity of life with his harmony of love program. He had fought against ridicule and people dismissing him. I promised to relook into the tagline.

Going back to the roots, I felt that our bee products had helped people to live better. My personal philosophy was learning as a way of life. And finally, my father’s wish was for his legacy of love which he fought so hard to create within the company

And finally, what better way to have our values and culture tied up into 1? Many companies have their tagline to help define them while values are how they work. I however saw things differently. I had studied a lot of different ways of streamlining a companies vision prior to this and one of the key issues that stuck in my head was to make sure that whatever we created was easily remembered. After all, less is more.

Finally, when I tied it all up in my head, I came up with the 3 words you are all so familiar with today: Live, Learn, Love in that order. And why that order you might ask? Well, there’s a significance to that too. It forms my circle of life. Live to Learn, Learn to Love, Love to Live. These words expanded are my personal philosophy how we should approach life and I would like to share it with everyone.

And finally, there is a hidden Easter egg in that tagline. If you take 2 letters out of each word, they spell out the word “EVOLVE”. And that for me is the most important value. Though this cycle of living, learning and loving, we evolve to become better human beings. And it is my aim that through living, learning and loving, HDI will evolve to become a much better organization.

Brandon Chia, 37 has been the Chairman and CEO of HDI since 2013. He was named CEO in 2011 and Chairman in January 2013. He succeeds Peter Chia, Founder and Chairman Emeritus as the 2nd generation business owner. Born in Singapore with a Degree in Law from the National University in Singapore, Brandon has championed consolidation, streamlining and efficiency of the various businesses within the group. He was also instrumental in driving double-digit growth of the organization’s revenue and profitability. In 2013, he led the organisation in rebranding itself from High-Desert to HDI across all the countries and business units. He created the vision, mission, values, purpose and legacy for the brand and also reorganised the portfolio of products, segregating them under different categories each with their own market position and target audience. He also worked to develop a turnkey franchise system that would allow the organisation to grow rapidly in emerging markets. Prior to being appointed Chairman and CEO, Brandon served as the International Operations Manager, jumpstarting the Philippines offices and focussing on growing the Outdoor Advertising, Finance and stock brokerage industries. He also started up two new businesses, Resource and Systech, successful spin offs from the Shared Services division of the Philippines. Brandon’s personal philosophy is about growth and evolution of mankind. His vision is to create healthy, open communities of people that share their knowledge readily and are able to live, learn and love beyond themselves.

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