With the royal wedding on the horizon and a recent arrival to ‘The Firm’, interest in all things British can hardly be higher.
For exporters, it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of the surge in affection for ‘Brand Britain’. With its heritage, distinct character and reputation for quality, the UK has a very strong international brand, and products that are ‘Made in Britain’ sell well in markets around the world.
To make the most of the hype, it’s worth considering the following:
1. Bake British heritage into your brand
To make your mark, take the elements typically associated with Britishness and use them in a way that’s relevant to your brand and gives it a sense of character.
The Cambridge Satchel Company is an example of a startup that has successfully played on its Britishness to build a recognisable brand with unique products.
Founded in 2008, it’s now a fast-growing online business, selling quintessentially British bags and accessories to over 120 countries. Tyrells is another company that has pushed its British image – synonymous with quality ingredients and farming standards – around the world, and its crisps now hold a significant percentage of the premium snack market in countries such as France, the US, and Australia.
Simply being ‘Made in Britain’ is a huge selling point, so consider applying for official accreditation to use the Made In Britain marque on your products, in your marketing, and in product descriptions on your website. The marque is applicable to goods that have been manufactured or have undergone a final substantial change in Britain.
2. Harness the royal touch
When William and Kate got engaged in 2010, the media welcomed a new era for the royal family. The union renewed the royal image and injected it with a fresh-faced charisma usually enjoyed by celebrities and film stars. Meghan brings something different again, and as a star in her own right, is pushing the royal celebrity factor even further.
There’s a lot British brands can learn from both women. Jumping on the royal hype doesn’t have to mean conservatism, or conforming to staid visions of aristocracy and old money.
It’s also about channelling some of the glamour and opulence that makes Britain a trendsetter for the rest of the world.
A tasteful nod to the royal family – and to British heritage in general, with all its history and culture – can add the golden touch to your brand and products. Just make sure you don’t get the wrong Brit!
3. Research your markets
There are certain markets that are particularly ‘Anglophile’, and this makes them even more receptive to British brands – for example, Japan, China, and the US respond well to different aspects of Britishness.
In a recent OFX survey, small British businesses identified the US as their most attractive market for global sales, with 63% listing it as their first choice for exporting post-Brexit. The US is a key consumer of all things Windsor, and with the ‘Meghan effect’ attracting even more American attention to the UK, now is a natural time for UK businesses to tap into the current interest and up their exposure in this market.
When looking into new markets, it’s worth bearing in mind that ‘Brand Britain’ means different things in different countries.
In India, for example, the British label is known as a sign of quality, whereas in the States, it is associated with a certain regal aesthetic as much as anything else.
The markets you choose to export to will depend first on the type of product you’re selling, but also which aspect of Britishness you are tapping into.
4. Have a clear plan for payments
Once you’ve decided which markets will be most receptive to your particular take on Brand Britain, your next consideration should be currency – always vital if you want to get a good return on your overseas sales and maximise your profits.
Current exchange rates favour British exporters, as they make sterling-denominated products more affordable and attractive to overseas buyers. But markets are never static.
The pound has been strengthening in recent months, so for businesses that want to keep their current advantage, a currency strategy that incorporates a forward contract – which locks in today’s rate for up to twelve months – can be a smart move.
If you’re unsure how to navigate the markets, it’s worth partnering with an international payments provider who has specialist knowledge of the various tools and options at your disposal, and who can guide you on how to use them. Look out for the option of a virtual currency account, which allows you to hold multiple currencies in a single bank account, fee-free.
5. Prepare for the future
As with any brand, reputation is everything. Today, Britain’s star is very much in the ascendant – a new royal baby has given the world something to smile about just weeks before Prince Harry’s wedding.
But the world is always moving, and while now is the perfect time to leverage Brand Britain to boost your international appeal, it’s important to build your brand on more than Britishness alone.
The ability to be flexible is vital when exporting, as it’s the only way to keep up with the rapidly changing international tastes.
That’s why it’s important to combine your Britishness with a constellation of other selling-points, like strong customer service, genuine quality, and real innovation. Do this, and you’ll be building a brand with international staying power.
Jake Trask is FX research director at international payments company, OFX, where he works closely with British exporters.
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