We do! That was the motivation behind Brand Manual joining 13 Estonian product, service and communication design experts on a journey to meet South Korean companies, design agencies and institutions. Why? Multinational Korean corporations like Samsung, LG and Hyundai have become global players, proving that design education and practice pays off in the longer run. Our idea was to give a similar advantage to small and medium size Korean companies, which have great products on Asian markets, by offering our services and skills for entering the European market.
Europe, where is that? If you look carefully at the map (see photo above) hanging on the wall of KOTRA, the Korean Trade-Investment Agency, Europe is a periphery, with its fragmented and culturally diverse markets.
Nonetheless there are unprecedented similarities that give Estonians a great competitive advantage for working with Korean companies. We are both small, surrounded by big and historically agressive neighbours; we are agile, managing to build up our economies and societies from scratch over a very short period of time; we are progressive, sharing high mobile penetration and high-speed internet access availability and online services. Although culturally very different, we think alike and work alike, making the +7 hour time difference hard to notice.
Within a week Brand Manual had seminars in the largest cities of Seoul and Busan, established good contacts with local design institutions - KIDP and DCB - and enjoyed meetings with a number of design and branding agencies. We also visited the facilities of the world's leading consumer electronics producer LG and met over 20 progressive Korean companies that have an interest in our Nordic design approach, our skills and know-how of the European markets.
Thank you – our new friends and partners in Korea; thank you – Estonian design agencies and experts for the joint effort; thank you – Estonian Design Centre and Service Industry Association for organizing this spectacular new-business event. Hopefully really soon we will be able to blog about or first Korean projects and the opening of our Asian branch office. Why not?
Please visit www.korea.ee for more detailed information on the event, the participants, the background, presentations and case studies presented to the Korean design industry and companies.