Hong Kong 2020: An Interview with Wes Ng, CEO and Co-Founder of CASETiFY
HONG KONG – In 2011, Wes Ng founded Casetagram, the first app to turn Instagram photos into phone cases. Since then however, the brand has evolved, rebranded as CASETiFY and now known as one of the world’s most popular phone case brands, offering custom designs and limited edition collaborations with the biggest global names.
Today, CASETiFY is synonymous with special edition accessories, a creative incubator for top brands and artists to collaborate on premium quality accessories, and with just over 100 employees across Hong Kong and Los Angeles, delivers to millions of customers around the world.
We spoke to Wes, and found out more about how CASETiFY has been handling the COVID-19 pandemic, how it has remained at the forefront of creativity, and Wes’ own advice for entrepreneurs. Wes was also recently featured as part of Hong Kong’s annual Knowledge of Design Week. Read the interview in full below:
Bakchormeeboy: You’re involved with the talk about leveraging digital platforms and storytelling to make one’s brand stand out. How has CASETiFY been capitalising in the digital space to build its brand?
Wes: CASETiFY found its home on Instagram’s hyper-connected social platform. It speaks to everything our brand believes in: personalization, innovation, and creativity. With that being said, it’s extremely important not to limit yourself (and your brand) to one channel. We tell our story through many different digital touchpoints, including social media, email newsletters, press, and of course, the CASETiFY website. However the customer connects with the brand, they’re going to find the same beloved brand experience.
Bakchormeeboy: It’s incredible how big CASETiFY has grown since its beginnings as a brand that allowed people to turn Instagram photos into phone cases, something that was born out of your own desire to find a phone case for yourself. What would you say has been a key factor in leading it to where it is today, and how do you ensure that, unlike the initial Casetagram brand, the branding remains strong enough that copycats won’t spoil the market?
Wes: While CASETiFY has evolved over the years, we’ve always stayed true to our brand’s core values and mission statement. CASETiFY remains the ultimate destination for creating one-of-a-kind, custom accessories. Not only that, our speed is unmatched when it comes to staying ahead of trends, developing new designs, and introducing new products. Of course, when I see copycats floating around, it must mean we’re doing something right. What sets CASETiFY apart from the competition, however, is our authenticity. Behind every product launch, collaboration, and campaign is a dedicated team putting in the work, and that can’t be replicated through a knock off.
Bakchormeeboy: CASETiFY has been dubbed a brand that markets itself to Gen Z’s thirst for individuality and bespoke products, something that is derived from CASETiFY’s focus on the importance of self-expression. Why do you think the need for individuality has grown to become bigger than ever for the current generation?
Wes: It’s safe to say that Gen Z is one of the most complex demographics to market to. Their short attention span, paired with their constant search for the next best thing, places them in a unique spot. That is why I believe self-expression and individuality are vital to understanding this demographic. Instead of pushing cookie cutter products at them, we’re changing the game, and putting the power in their hands. Every CASETiFY product offering comes with customizable elements (from choosing your bumper colour, level of protection, or even adding your monogram), the accessory you create with us becomes a billboard for who you are.
Bakchormeeboy: At the media preview a few days back. I really like how CASETiFY is now making masks. BUT more importantly, It’s not just doing it for the sake of doing it. But with a bigger purpose, With every mask bought, one will be donated to healthcare personnel around the world. It’s a great initiative. But can you share with us how this initiative started and how is it progressing now?
Wes: The idea to introduce reusable cloth masks stemmed from our ultimate goal: providing protection and style for our community. Our accessories have covered and elevated people’s tech for years, so the notion to bring this same type of quality and protection into other lifestyle products made total sense to us. I also understand that as a global brand we have a responsibility to lead the way for our customers. So earlier this year we rolled out CASETiFY Cares, an ongoing initiative that partners relevant products with nonprofit organizations giving back. With the support of our community, we’ve donated 35,000 masks to frontline responders through Direct Relief, and we’re proud to keep the efforts moving forward.
Bakchormeeboy: Another thing you said was that the brand is now getting a lot of positive feedback due you and your brand understanding of the Gen Y and Z, How do you do that? How do you also intend to improve the communication and marketing to other groups of people?
Wes: Similar to how we diversify our digital experiences, we also make an effort to connect with our community in different ways. This can be seen in our vast amount of product offerings, in addition to our expansive roster of brand collaborations (which include collections with Coca-Cola, Warner Bros., HEINZ, etc.). I firmly believe CASETiFY is for everyone, and this sentiment echoes throughout our brand. The world is increasingly turning to online experiences, for all ages, and we’re keeping the lines of communication for feedback and connection wide open.
Bakchormeeboy: The CASETiFY Protects initiative is impressive, to say the least, with the innovation that goes into the UV sanitizer. However, you mentioned that this was not a response to COVID-19, but something that’s actually been up the company’s sleeves for a while. While you may not be able to predict the future, what is CASETiFY’s process of preempting and innovating products that will prove marketable or useful to customers?
Wes: The key to staying innovative and ahead of trends is remaining flexible and quick to adapt. Yes, we were testing and developing the UV Sanitizer long before the pandemic, but our team of experts and our process for speedy launches made it possible to get this important product onto the market at a time people needed it the most.
Bakchormeeboy: What do you attribute to your own success as a businessperson, and to those looking to start their own business, what are some of the biggest misconceptions?
Wes: The biggest misconception about founders is that once their company finds success then things get easier. This is far from the truth. As a leader, I am constantly researching the industry, speaking to my colleagues and mentors, and most importantly learning from my trusted team members. I’m always going to be looking through the “founder lens” and pushing the boundaries for what we can achieve.
Bakchormeeboy: I really like what you said about how the pandemic teaches us responsibility as a brand, and that it’s more than just making transactions. But can you share how the brand is going forward with this? How do you reinvent this space of e-commerce?
Wes: With the overwhelmingly positive response to our launches under CASETiFY Protects, as well as our ongoing charitable initiatives through CASETiFY Cares, we see the year 2020 as a framework for reacting and creating during an unpredictable time. As a brand, we will continue to release important products that provide protection, excitement, and an outlet for self-expression. CASETiFY connects millions of people around the world and we’re on a mission to make an impact in each one of their lives.
KODW 2020 takes place online from 26th to 29th August 2020. Register for free on their website here