MAN GREY - Branding and design for the Belt and Road

Hong Kong is home to a plethora of branding and design firms. Many offer their creative services not only to local companies but also overseas clients who appreciate Hong Kong designers’ international perspectives and distinct flair for the latest trends. And as Belt and Road development continues around the world, businesses in Belt and Road countries that want to spruce up their image are more motivated to seek help from branding and design experts in Hong Kong, a city that plays the role of a “facilitator” in the Initiative.

MAN GREY Branding and Design Consultancy is one beneficiary of this trend. Founded in Hong Kong, the company provides a broad range of creative services, including graphics and identity, digital experiences, photography, script writing and video production. It also specialises in the branding and design of tender submissions and business-to-business presentations. With more than 20 years’ industry experience, MAN GREY has a proven track record in project tenders in countries along the Belt and Road, from Singapore to Mongolia. With a solid reputation and broad international outlook, the firm has found itself in even greater demand in Asia in the last few years, as Belt and Road development gains momentum in the region.

MAN GREY recently completed a branding and design project in Singapore, a country that has been China’s largest foreign investment destination among Belt and Road economies since the Initiative was launched in 2013. The consultancy firm’s design team was able to make good use of their creativity, attention to detail and ability to deal with specific cultural aspects to the client’s satisfaction.

The client was Sembawang Engineers and Constructors, a subsidiary of Indian engineering and construction group Punj Lloyd. It was not the first time MAN GREY worked with a Singaporean company. A few years previously, for example, it took on a two-year-long project for the iconic colonial-style Raffles Hotel. In the process, it established a good reputation for itself and also a business network in the city state. That gave MAN GREY somewhat of a “first-mover advantage” in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative.

In the Sembawang project, the Hong Kong company, which has many years’ experience in large-scale construction and infrastructure projects, was tasked with developing corporate branding and defining Sembawang’s commitment to innovation and technology. The scope of work included a TV commercial aired on BBC World News and Bloomberg Asia Pacific, corporate videos, photography, brochures and online content development. The MAN GREY team drew on their broad perspectives and understanding of cultural nuances to effectively get Sembawang’s message across to audience at home and abroad.


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MAN GREY took on a branding and design project for Singapore’s Sembawang Engineers and Constructors


One task that demanded a particularly great deal of effort was to highlight Sembawang’s achievement of building a metro line in Singapore, known in the railway industry as one of the world’s most challenging projects of its kind. According to Tom Grey, Founder of MAN GREY, “these engineering achievements are often overlooked and unknown to the public”, and the challenge was to convey the subterranean complication of constructing the 3.4 kilometres of tunnels and architectural and building services for five metro stations. To tell the story effectively to the public, MAN GREY authored, designed and published a nifty special edition book that clearly laid out facts on and pictures of the metro line. On the whole, the branding and marketing materials of the project, according to Grey, won positive feedback from stakeholders, engineers, government departments and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority.

Closer to home, MAN GREY was behind a large-scale, multifaceted design project commissioned by Wynn Palace, a luxury hotel in Macao. The project, which was aimed at chronicling the building of the US$4.4 billion Wynn Palace, involved the design of three entities: an on-site visitor centre, an image library and a 180-page project book. The scope of work for MAN GREY was wide-ranging, from designing banners to creating time-lapse movies to interior design of the visitor centre. The project took 30 months to complete. Grey said the client was proud to be able to share with stakeholders the diverse construction activities, from the detailed fitting out of the hotel rooms to the complications of the performance lake and its gondolas.


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MAN GREY was commissioned by Macao’s Wynn Palace to create interior design for a visitor centre


“When we work with a client for the first time, they often comment at the end that we have made what set out to be a complicated process into a painless and enjoyable one for them, which is a great compliment,” Tom Grey said.

Working with clients from different industries and cultures can be challenging, not least because of the needs to navigate cross-cultural interactions and different mentalities. But Grey believes his team thrives in diversity and has the “agility to overcome challenges and grasp opportunities presented by different environments”. This stands the design firm in good stead in terms of landing jobs in Belt and Road countries, especially projects related to infrastructure.

“We have been involved in many engineering and construction projects in Hong Kong as a consequence of our modern city’s need for clean water, waste treatment, infrastructure and housing,” Tom Grey explained. “Developing countries are faced with similar challenges and we can help companies promote their presence in new markets brought about by the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Hong Kong’s advantages are also a boon for creative service providers, according to Grey. “Hong Kong is a vibrant international city with a strong work ethic and high-quality production facilities. And as a transport hub, it is well connected by air, sea and rail. These advantages complement our creatives services as we are able to respond efficiently to project requirements such as producing samples and prototypes.”

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