Global viewpoint from Asia
A view from Ian Millner

Global viewpoint from Asia

Britain, you are looking great from here. I’ve been in Asia for a few months now and, apart from the odd "half-joking" reference to Downton Abbey, "brand Britain" appears to be at an interesting point in its life cycle. Not part of Europe but in Europe. Big yet small. Linked to the US but also India and China. A hinterland, yet still open, diverse and progressive.

The Asia-Pacific market is evolving rapidly. There is so much change and difference. New brands can crop up overnight and there are lots of "local hero" brands that are big in one or two markets. There is a maturity coming to the market as brands start to look for more robust strategy and creative innovation from their agencies.

Britain is enjoying a renaissance in the culture it exports. And brands such as Burberry, Virgin, Mini, Jaguar and Dyson (and, er, Iris) have all reaped rewards from being "Brits abroad" – leveraging cultural codes to add to their own stories. The opportunity for British brands has never been more exciting – although it’s worth keeping the following points in mind.

The importance of roots: That doesn’t mean a "made in Britain" logo. People want to understand how your origins deliver a unique set of benefits and ideals. In a market with so much change, Asia-Pacific consumers are starting to look for depth and certainty in their choices.

Authenticity: This market is becoming more and more populated with stuff – Western brands competing with local brands, and often with decreasing differentiation. It’s no longer enough to tell people what your brand stands for. Show them.

Being the most expensive may not be the interesting thing - but being perceived to be worth the money is

Premium perception: There’s no doubt about the demand for premium brands among Asia-Pacific consumers. A sense of status that comes with a product or brand goes a long way. Being the most expensive may not be the interesting thing here – but being perceived to be worth the money certainly is. Prove it through quality craftsmanship, disruption or innovation.

Steadfast pursuit of quality: There is a reason that Dyson performs as well as it does on a global scale. As a brand, its pursuit of innovation and quality is relentless. The Asia-Pacific market can kick out new trends overnight – the only way to succeed is to be constantly looking at ways to learn, adapt and improve.

Embrace collaborations: There is no avoiding the growing need for effective collaboration – with other experts, cultures, nationalities and partners. An open mind is essential. For those making the leap, it’s a confusing market filled with opportunity – and you’re not going to have all the answers.  

Embrace contradictions: Tensions make things interesting. Don’t ignore them.  

Charisma: Our finest British traits of charm, humour, eccentricity and dogged determination go a long way. Use them wisely.

Ian Millner is the joint global chief executive at Iris