The Chosen Bun

20 November 2017

Malaysia’s myBurgerLab has evolved from being a humble burger joint to something of a national treasure in the span of five years. Find out how the brand manages to stay relevant in Kuala Lumpur’s trend-based food scene.

In Malaysia, if you’ve ever queued for food, chances are you’ve queued for some of myBurgerLab’s tender patties sandwiched by pillow-soft charcoal buns.

On top of having chilli sauce dribble down your chin at a post-midnight Ramly burger session, lining up for myBurgerLab’s burgers now qualifies as a pervasive Malaysian burger experience for many.

It’s taken only five years for myBurgerLab to reach this height of reverence, and to most of us looking in from the outside, it’s been an effortless ride.

But the truth is, the brand’s giddying achievements didn’t arrive with the swish of a wand. As with many success stories, sleepless nights and many trial-and-error sessions in the kitchen preceded. 

Chin Ren Yi, one third of the myBurgerLab founders and the brand’s unofficial spokesperson.

To the fortune of founders Chin Ren Yi, Teoh Wee Kiat, and Cheah Chang Ming, their timing was also key. Hot on the heels of Burger Bakar Kaw Kaw in 2012, myBurgerLab was the first brick-and-mortar brand in Kuala Lumpur to churn out gourmet burgers.

Plus, the novelty of their signature black buns conjured social media hype almost immediately. “All we knew was we needed to be ahead of the pack,” says Chin, the “voice” behind the brand. “However, we also needed to just focus on being ourselves and not be distracted by what other people were doing.”

Long past the days of Kuala Lumpur’s gourmet burger craze, myBurgerLab still pulls in loyal customers by the droves, and now operates four branches across Klang Valley in SeaPark, OUG, Sunway and Cyberjaya. The homegrown burger joint even opened two outlets in Cambodia in 2015.

“[Opening myBurgerlab in Cambodia] was a bit of an experiment, just to get a taste of what it feels like to manage a brand overseas,” says Chin.  

“I don’t think we’re ready yet in the near future [to open more outlets overseas] but with experience, I hope that we’ll be able to make our presence felt in Southeast Asian countries.”

With myBurgerLab’s Malaysian presence currently concentrated in the Klang Valley, Chin reveals that they do have plans to expand to other parts of the country sometime next year, but exact details remain under wraps for now.

They may have risen to fame from their burgers, but it’s not all about the burgers for myBurgerLab. To be a fan of myBurgerLab is to also be a fan of the brand’s friendly, cheeky online persona.

Since day one, their Facebook page has taken a life of its own; some posts and photos invoke thousands of shares and comments, especially when the brand jumps on the bandwagon of a hot local topic.

A case in point was the introduction of a nasi lemak burger by McDonald’s Singapore that stoked the ire of many Malaysians. myBurgerLab fans pestered the brand to create a version of their own to rival the fast food joint, and Chin and his team rose to the challenge.

On 4 August, the new Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang burger was unveiled on Facebook, and both fans and the Malaysian media sparked a frenzy.

“[The nasi lemak burger] was conceived in less than a week. Since people were tagging us and asking us to make one, we decided to do it,” says Chin.

On a grander scheme, Chin credits much of the restaurant’s success to its on-point branding tactics. “One thing we noticed was that we were doing well with customers because we were very relatable,” he says. “Since day one, the concept of myBurgerLab has always been a community brand.

“Money wasn’t the first thing on our mind – it was just to create a happy place. We see people as people, we don’t see people as dollar signs. And whenever people talk about us, there’s always a sense of pride.”

It’s common for myBurgerLab fans and satisfied customers to leave thank you notes.

He’s not wrong. At a time when brands struggle with engagement amid saturation on social media, myBurgerLab seems to rouse genuine excitement from fans, a luxury few businesses can brag about.

And while social media is an element of their success, it helps too that, at the very core of it, myBurgerLab is selling what could be one of our most quintessential childhood foods: burgers.

“We all grew up with it,” says Chin. “With burgers, no matter what race you are, it’s very Malaysian.”

myBurgerlab’s Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang burger is on the menu until 31 December 2017. For updates and more, visit www.facebook.com/myBurgerLab

By Surekha Ragavan

This article is related to FOOD MYBURGER LAB BURGER MADE IN MALAYSIA BUSINESS

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