Singaporean agency The Secret Little Agency are more than just an advertising house, they’re also a design agency and to celebrate that, they recently rebranded TSLA Design to Anak. Headed up by CCO and creative partner Hanyi Lee, the company made the plunge to rebrand in September 2021.
Since its inception in 2009, TSLA Design has been behind plenty of Asian and Singaporean rebrandings from the likes of KFC, Apple’s LumiHealth and Mandai Park. Hanyi admits that while at first the team had been ‘dragging their feet’ because of the effort it takes to overhaul, they felt it would do more justice to Anak if it were to separate itself from TSLA. “What's interesting is that clients have just found us over the past 10 years, we've never done new business at all. I think sometimes in Asia, clients aren't able to differentiate advertising and branding. They just go to advertising firms who are the biggest players in the market. But for us, we came to a point where we wanted to just really specialise, which has allowed us to attract more clients that really wanted the specific thing that we wanted to do, which is branding.”
She adds that the conversation to pivot over to Anak had been going on for the last five years, before finally becoming a reality this year. Marketing manager Jannah Cheang adds that now The Secret Little Agency has a ‘proper arm where we can focus on brands and tell brand stories’. Before moving on to what the design arm believes they can do, Hanyi explains where the name ‘Anak’ came from. Meaning ‘child’ in several Southeast Asian languages, for the team at Anak the name represents how they want to ‘make their children proud, pave the way for the next generation and stay stupid and naïve’. Jannah adds: “The idea of creating a design arm that not only produces work that you're proud of that, our next generation will be proud of, but also that the next generation of creators and partners, business partners can be a part of in an organised, branding practice.”
As it stands, Anak will be based in Singapore but work across the whole Asian region – just as they did when they were TSLA Design. During that time, they did work across the whole of Asia for KFC, something which they are keen to implement going forward. For Hanyi having a ‘natural approach’ when speaking to brands means that strategically they are in a position to go with the flow when responding to briefs. She adds: “We have a lot of local partners, whether it's in Cambodia or Indonesia that we have built up over the years. So we’re working with them to really make sure that we get the details right and move all of that into the rest of the creative process.”
For Hanyi, a former law student and then graphic design student at Parsons, she’s learnt the importance of staying relevant and what advertising branding can do to raise the profile of a company. As she looks to lead Anak and its growing team into the next phase of its journey, she’s keen that they ‘stand for good’ and create brands that are modern, accountable and relevant. In the long-term Anak aims to be the place for creators to come to call home and be their most ‘ridiculous selves’. Jannah adds that this space is one to watch: “It’s a good omen for us right now, we’ve got a good body of work and a lot more to look forward to as well.”