Natalie Wong: Listen to Understand
Design Director of Chello
by Elizabeth Lavis|
09 Jan 2023
Natalie Wong goes by several names, including Natalie, Nat, and NateDawg, but most people know her as the superstar Design Director of Chello. “I’ve been with Chello for nearly five years now,” she says. “It’s been a while. It’s also been a bit of fun.”
Wong became interested in design when she was in her late 20s and saw a fellow designer’s portfolio for the first time. “I think it was seeing her work out in the world that excited me,” Wong says. “So I studied for a Cert IV in Graphic Design at Shillington College over an intense but thoroughly enjoyable three months. I jumped around various studios and agencies across Sydney before landing at my current home, Chello.”
While creative, practical design is one of Wong’s great passions, she’s also a massive athlete. “My house is full of gear for different sports and activities like boxing, surfing, yoga, diving, and climbing. I’ll take anything that means I can get into the water.” So when she’s not breaking through the waves in the blue beyond or testing her skills on the rock wall, Wong catches up on her reading, surrounded by plenty of plants. “I think there are over 50 plants now,” she says.
Other passions include a love of cooking, and a powerful relationship with Percy, a pup that Wong sees as more of a son. One of Wong’s guiding principles comes from the best piece of advice she’s ever heard. “Listen to understand rather than listening to respond,” she says.
This motto comes in handy when she faces harsh criticism, allowing her to see where the client is coming from and work towards a solution. “It’s important to understand the ‘why’ behind it,” she says. “You can’t really process and move forward in the right direction when you’re not on the same page. Talking a problem through is the simplest way to navigate criticism.”
Additionally, Wong develops deep, lasting relationships with her clients that allow her to establish a baseline of trust over time. “Every studio and agency works differently,” she says. “I enjoy building relationships with those we work with.” Wong and her team talk through the nuts and bolts of strategy and positioning, helping get buy-in on the creative process and align herself with clients.
One example of Wong and her clients working in harmony is Shef, a platform connecting immigrants and ex-pats with people looking for unique, authentic food. “As Shef has two primary audiences, those who cook and those who eat, we focused on a brand that could expand different cultures and cuisines while creating a sense of belonging,” she says.
The brand hinged on Shef’s “shared bowl,” creating a sense of welcome, openness, and inclusivity. “Working alongside the amazing team at Shef has been a wonderful experience,” Wong says. “The passion for making a positive change in the lives of people on their platform is heartfelt.”
The combination of a great mission, creative campaign, effective branding, and active listening all help initiatives like Shef to thrive and put Wong in a class all of her own.
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