The importance of championing UK brands to 'go global'

Mon 2 Apr 2012
Posted by: Lesley Batchelor OBE, Director General of the IOE
IOE News
was delighted to be invited as a speaker at a vibrant and high-profile manufacturing conference spearheaded by the Institute for Government and held in association with BAE Systems, Cola Enterprises and City A.M.

Bringing key players, influencers and thinkers in UK manufacturing industries under one roof, the session examined the wealth of the UK’s manufacturing industries along with new manufacturing models.  

It debated how investment in technological innovation and sustainable manufacturing boosts productivity and emphasised how engaging and equipping young people with skills into industry, (a key issue which we champion at the Institute of Export) design, and the manufacturing sector is critical to its future and sustainability.

Fellow presenters included Martin McCourt, the former Chief Executive of Dyson and Peter Luff, Minister for Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology.

Addressing the theme ‘Made in Britain: UK brands in a global market place’, I recall when preparing for the event, I wondered exactly what percentage of UK brands that fly the UK flag are still intrinsically British. At the session I stressed the importance of working in partnership to tenaciously support and encourage more UK brands to branch out into the international arena.

I explained how my role over the years has entailed advising the creative industries on international trade and reaching new markets – and how I’ve had the fortune to meet many talented small and medium sized businesses.

On the downside, I recalled how their commercial nous coupled with knowledge of branding and legal issues differed dramatically. The type of companies I dealt with ranged from the music business which had to get to grips with licensing and the concept of royalty payments to the artist or designer who loved to create, but resented sellers taking commissions – and had no concept of design rights or the impact of copyright.

A lifelong supporter of developing the skills of – and educating and nurturing future generations – my priority was teaching them the inherent value of firstly investing in a brand, and then helping them to protect and building their brand into one which is transportable beyond the UK.

Against an ever evolving backdrop, the adage that there’s no substitute for preparation is more relevant than ever and at the Institute we discover that even larger businesses which are poised to  enter new markets fail to check the very basics about their product name and intellectual property (IP).

So what do we need to do? I would urge companies to build IP into business planning from the outset and not as an afterthought. When training and educating our clients about international trade, we stress how marketing and market research should include questions about IP rights and attitudes within the new market.

Following a tried and tested template of embedding these processes into business planning pays dividends every time and ensures that companies are fully protected and risk aware to prevent making basic and costly mistakes.

This process transforms the ‘have a stab at a new market’ approach into an effective and robust market entry plan – and our team at the Institute have amassed a strong track record in assisting with these issues.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the conference which was a resounding success.