Omsom’s 5 Keys to Successful Brand Storytelling

Omsom bills itself as a “loud and proud Asian food” brand but in this case, loud doesn’t just mean bright brand colors. It means having something to say.

Founder Vanessa Pham explains that the company was inspired by her and her sister Kim’s lived experiences as first generation Asian Americans. “Having lived a lifetime of being constrained by this model minority myth, we felt like embodying this noisy, loud, and proud energy was so true to us and is the way that we wanted to show up in the world through our company,” Vanessa says.

Vanessa attributes Omsom’s success to great storytelling, which has led to tons of press coverage, selling out of their products at launch, and eventually securing retail partners. Here are Vanessa’s tips for successful brand storytelling.

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1. Narrow your focus

Vanessa believes many brands dilute their message when they try to appeal to everyone. Instead, she recommends narrowing your audience, which makes it easier to create more meaningful content.

“We really centered the first- and second-generation Asian American community at a time where many brands were overlooking this audience,” Vanessa explains.

Existing food brands often used either the same packaging as the products in Asia or they were aimed at non-Asian consumers with slogans like “travel the world through food.”

Omsom spice packets surrounded by disco balls
Omsom means noisy or rambunctious in Vietnamese. Omsom

2. Make storytelling a daily habit

“If you are not dedicating time and energy to storytelling, then the media doesn't have a story to tell,” Vanessa says. Omsom has made it a priority to create a daily habit around creating content, whether that’s sharing what’s going on behind the scenes or commenting on current events. That’s helped them develop good relationships with journalists and more impactful press coverage.

3. Be part of the national conversation

The founding story isn’t enough anymore. Vanessa says participating in larger discussions is key to staying relevant. For example, when Silicon Valley Bank failed, Vanessa and her sister were constantly talking to the press about the developing situation.

“If you are talking about things that journalists are already thinking about and already care about, you're much more likely to kind of be a part of their next piece,” Vanessa says.

Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese and Thai Omsom starter packets
Omsom worked with different chefs to create sauce packets for different cuisines, and these chefs would be involved with everything from sourcing ingredients to marketing.Omsom

4. Make your products reflect your story

Posting on social media and talking to press aren’t the only ways to tell a story. Omsom took it a step further, and actually made a product around one of their campaigns to demystify the misconceptions around MSG. They made an MSG shaker, so that MSG could have a place at the table with salt and pepper.

“This was really risky because as a premium food brand, the quality of our ingredients is kind of what you live and die by,” Vanessa explains. “And we wanted to take that risk and tell that story because we believed that people could listen to us and would maybe learn something.”

5. Introduce the people behind the brand

Vanessa says an early learning was that consumers care about the people behind the brand, particularly for food brands that are tied to certain cultures.

“Kim and I decided to be a part of our Omsom story in a very meaningful way because we wanted people to know that these were the faces behind the brand, these are the values we stand for, and here's how we're trying to live them out every day as best we can, even when it's imperfect,” she says. 

To learn more about how Vanessa and Kim live out their loud and proud values, developed recipes and merchandise, and demonstrated grit to eventually land a retail partnership, listen to Vanessa’s full interview on Shopify Masters.