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“Tension keeps an audience engaged in your story and, more importantly, evokes emotion.”

Meet Phillip Ma, a marketing maestro and the next guest in our #UCVoices series. Phil believes in elevating customer experiences through thoughtful innovation and purpose-driven marketing. He has worked for world-leading brands including Wyndham Hotels, Jet Blue Airways and Mercedes Benz, transforming marketing across the brand life cycle and driving growth.

We spoke to Phil about his sources of inspiration,the secret to telling a good story and why a brand’s purpose can’t solely be a price play.

Phillip Ma, Marketing Leader

Phil, what really inspires you about what you do?

I truly believe that if you distil marketing to its simplest point, it is about telling a good story. This quote from Blake Mycoskie, Start Something That Matters, does a great job capturing my sentiment: “A good story transcends boundaries, breaks barriers, and opens doors.”

What’s the secret to telling a good story?

Tension. This is what keeps an audience engaged in your story and, more importantly, evokes emotion. We know emotion is such a powerful trait in influencing audience opinions, behaviours, preferences, loyalty and so much more. Often times,it is the emotion that drives choice – especially when all rational aspects are the same. 

If you could master any skill, what would it be? 

Adaptability. Here is a great quote from Jeff Bezos that captures this important skill: "The smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they'd already solved. They're open to new points of view,new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking."

What's your top tip for winning brand fans? 

Telling meaningful stories that provide your audience value and a reason to love and be loyal to your brand. 

There are too many brands out there where their entire purpose is purely a price play. However, that strategy can be easily replicated, and the brand easily substituted. 

You need to invest in your brand's meaning, purpose and story to truly differentiate your brand. I always ask – why should a customer be loyal to my brand and what is the value I deliver compared to my competitors?

With that in mind, what are the three most important things to consider when crafting a brand engagement campaign?

Who is your audience and what are their perceptions/experiences with your brand? 

What is the credibility and role of your brand in telling the story? 

How are you going to measure the success of influencing behaviour or changing perceptions with that audience? 

What’s the must-have ingredient for a successful partnership in our world?


And last but not least, why do you think the employee experience is so important for brands today? 

Especially in this new world of COVID-19, consumers are looking for authentic, genuine brands that have a purpose. It is your employees who drive the brand’s culture and deliver on the brand purpose and experience to the customer. A strong employee experience is no longer an optional or nice to have. A brand must foster a strong, authentic employee experience in order to succeed in the world. 

Check out #UCVoices on social to meet more of our inspiring network and look out for our next profiles including in-depth interviews, features and spotlights.