Is your business ready for 2020 and beyond?

The start of a new decade can mean uncertainty for leaders of organizations. Our Founder and Chief Brand Strategist, Cherry Kho, addressed how brands can navigate through this uncertainty and find a clear direction for 2020 and beyond during her talk at Franchise Asia Philippines General Membership Meeting last February 13, held at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria. 

At Bluethumb, we realized we wanted to solve bigger, more meaningful challenges that aligned with our beliefs and values. Think of Nelson Mandela, the revolutionary leader, and philanthropist who said: Vision without action is merely a dream, action without vision just passes the time, but vision with action can change the world. 

A clear vision can be used as a compass to guide and inspire leaders and their people. To have a clear vision means to look inside yourself and to define what success means for you. This becomes your internal, governing compass.

NASA defined success as putting a man on the moon. Microsoft envisioned a computer for every household. Nike wanted to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. For these brands, their vision was so clear that it inspired all the actions of the different members of the organization. They were able to work together to achieve the vision of their founder. 

When you have a clear and defined vision, you and your people will have more confidence in knowing what are the best plans and execution for your brand.

However, not all brands are like them. To recall Nelson Mandela: Action without vision just passes the time. Since all organizations have a vision, this can be rewritten as action without a “clear vision” just passes the time. Does the vision hanging on the wall inspire you and your people to get out of bed every day? Do they see what you see?

Cherry emphasized that even with a team of the best talents who have a lot of ideas and suggestions, they can only give short term solutions because of an unclear short-term vision. Sometimes we lose sight of our original intention of why we first started our business—our purpose—because we are focused on reacting to everything that happens around us.

Losing sight of your brand’s identity 

Applebee’s enjoyed huge success in the US and were known as the go-to neighborhood grill & bar for families serving wholesome meals. They opened over 1500 branches across the globe. 

Sales started to decline in the late 2000s and to remedy this, Applebee’s decided to do a rebrand to appeal to a younger market and transformed itself into a “millennial bar.” Applebee’s wasn’t wrong to catch up with the times, but because they strayed so far away from who they were, they failed to attract millennials and alienated their core customer base. 

If you aren’t clear about what made you succeed in the first place, then you may end up wasting your time and resources on a distraction that looks like an opportunity. 

According to Fortune and Business Insider, Applebee’s sales continued to decline. By 2017, they had closed over 130 stores nationwide. 

…a strong brand is backed by a clear vision and intentional actions.

Finding clarity within your business

Local burger chain Minute Burger could’ve easily settled to be just another buy-1-take-1 burger store—with a 30-year track record and 600 stores to back them up. But they didn’t settle. 

Minute Burger’s vision is to provide happiness through good, tasty, and affordable food. Unfortunately, this wasn’t communicated clearly in how they presented themselves—their vision was lost in all the mixed messages they were sending. As a result, they were only attracting the masses and were seen as identical to other buy-1-take-1 kiosks.

Bluethumb worked together with the owners and marketing team to rediscover and align the brand. The new goal was to attract a younger, middle-class audience without alienating their current customers. Minute Burger uncovered their vision of Everyday Happiness through good food that is affordable and worth sharing; Everyday Happiness in their identity system to manifest what the brand stands for through different parts of their business.

It was only a matter of unifying them all together under one vision—so their brand could become whole in the eyes of the customers. Since the rebrand in 2019, they rolled more than 100 newly-designed stores nationwide. Sign-ups from interested franchisees grew by 20%. And they received over 44,000 positive reactions from old and new customers, online and offline. From a brand suffering from comparison with other buy-1-take-1 burgers to becoming a preferred burger often ordered by young professionals on Food Panda.

This is proof of Cherry’s statement that a strong brand is backed by a clear vision and intentional actions.

A clear vision starts with the leader


A business has a lot of moving parts to manage, and with a strong brand, you can unify them into one cohesive unit. But it starts with a clear vision from the leader—for all of the different stakeholders to do their best work together, at the same speed and cadence.

It’s like switching on the light. When you have a clear and defined vision, you and your people will have more confidence in knowing what are the best plans and execution for your brand,” said Cherry. 

Cherry Kho will be having a roundtable discussion on March 25, 2020, at the SMX Convention Center. Interested entrepreneurs who wish to join in on the conversation may contact The Philippine Franchise Association

The Franchise Asia Philippines Expo will be happening from March 27-29, 2020.

For more information, you may view their website at