Established in 1994, Equus has since become one of the leading design consultancies in Singapore, and by extension, South East Asia. We were founded by four partners – Andrew Thomas, Chia Chay Hwa, Alex Mucha and Cindy Lim, two English men and two Chinese women. Which means we bring together the complementary strengths, not only of our respective disciplines (creative, finance, client servicing, production) but also of our cultures and genders.
But we had another key strength – we had all worked together for a long time somewhere else, in a place that helped to define who we wanted to be… mainly by showing us what we didn’t want to be.
Before starting Equus we all worked for what was – at the time – a well-known international design company. On the plus side, it was a great place to learn, working with major clients on world class international branding and communications projects. We also met and worked alongside some great people. On the minus side, it was in many ways a difficult place to be. We won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say the passion we had for design and service excellence, and to treat staff with respect and ethical integrity – was all too often compromised by grey expediency, the pursuit of profit, office politics, and stifling bureaucracy. It’s a familiar tale of the pressures of modern corporate life, even in a leading design group.
But out of adversity, good things can come. And, in this case, the very good thing was that it gave birth to the idea of Equus. We also knew exactly what we wanted Equus to be like – and the pitfalls we needed to avoid.
Our aim was to create a design consultancy where:
- 1. The business is truly focused on design
- 2. Creative excellence and customer service are never compromised by bureaucracy, or the pursuit of profit
- 3. Clients and employees are treated with honesty and integrity at all times
- 4. Fairness, openness and a respect for everyone’s contribution create a friendly and supportive environment, free from office politics
- 5. Everyone is expected and encouraged to have a life outside work
- 6. A portion of the profits and skills of the business is shared with the community
Why did we call ourselves Equus?
Well, the name means “horse” in Latin, and we could give you a lengthy explanation of why we chose it and what it stood for, but that doesn’t matter anymore. So let’s just say it sounded good, and felt right, back in 1994 – and we still think it does today.
One thing that has changed over the years, though, is how we position ourselves in our market. To begin with, we focused our design services pretty narrowly on corporate branding and printed communications – and we very rapidly built a reputation for exceptional creativity, winning lots of international awards. But over time, as the market evolved and technology opened up new communications channels, we realised there were more exciting opportunities we could be pursuing, while giving our creativity much greater freedom.
We didn’t try to forget who we are and reinvent ourselves as a brand-focused management consultancy, as others have done. We knew that our greatest strength was in design and creativity. But we saw that the time was right to move further “upstream”, to get involved in the strategic positioning and creation of brands, rather than just the execution of their logo and collaterals. And we thought this was the best way to serve our clients too – to offer them much more than we did before.
So after about five years we broadened our vision, to reposition Equus as a borderless brand consultancy, offering clients brand strategy and its creative articulation, from developing the brand blueprint and the brand mark itself to executing all its numerous forms of expression – online, offline, 2D, 3D. We’ve been pursuing this vision ever since.
So what is our vision then?