Although raw materials and primary processing products still make the lion's share of the country's exports, the world is already getting to know "made in Ukraine" goods with high added value. Their share in the total exports is not high yet. In 2017, it was 28.2%. Experts say it is because of the need to look for new distribution markets, outdated technologies and difficulties attracting investments. According to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, after Ukraine joined the free trade area with the EU, it expanded its exports by 39 commodity groups.
However, goods made in Ukraine are often sold under foreign brands. It happens because brand design and marketing and its later promotion abroad could be expensive, usually at least half of an item's production cost. It is getting increasingly more difficult to compete with well-known giants and win clients' trust abroad because developed economies seek to protect their national producers. Even so, if a Ukrainian business wants to export its goods or services, it has no other choice but to adapt to the conditions of the modern global market and develop its own brand. Read our experts' advice on how to do it.
Maryana Kahanyak, Co-initiator, Head of Export Promotion Office and Advisor at Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine.
This September the Export Promotion Office presented the Export Brand, thus making the first step towards building systemic communication about the opportunities and competitive advantages provided by Ukraine's export-oriented sectors. The country of origin's strong brand helps exporters increase sales, present Ukraine in the world in an identifiable and consistent manner while providing cross-sector support for Ukrainian goods and services, and thus save on the cost of foreign promotion. Other countries' experience proves that a strong export brand drives up sales, allowing exporters to increase the price of their goods or services by 20-22% and remain competitive.
Most recently, Ukraine used its Export Brand at China International Import Expo 2018, the first international import exhibition. The country's national stand was designed with regard to the Export Brand and all the events and communication at the stand were held in line with its guidelines: we were presenting an innovative, creative, technologically advanced, authentic and competitive Ukraine. By taking this communication further at exhibitions, trade missions, B2B meetings and in exporters' regular marketing packs, we are building a strong association with Ukrainian goods and services.
As Ukrainian exports increase, their quality is improving: there are more goods with added value, and Ukraine is clearly getting closer to end customers in the added-value chain. Therefore, we are also working on the national distinction, Made in Ukraine, which is part of the Export Brand. Exports' packaging will be labelled accordingly provided they meet certain criteria. Such criteria are essential because the country's Export Brand guarantees the quality of goods and services being exported. Even if just one product or exporter or sector is found substandard, the reputation of the national Export Brand is at risk.
Iryna Khymchak, Partner at BeCentric Communication & Marketing Group which developed the Export Brand of Ukraine.
A brand is a lot more than a logo. A brand is made of two equally essential parts: the brand platform, which describes the values, emotions, concepts and commitments of the brand, and the visual brand identity. The brand's goal is to communicate the character of a business. High-end quality branding can engage consumers by telling them a story of the brand through visual identity. The hottest trend in branding is creating synergies between the visuals and values.
Corporate brands convey global development trends. In most cases, a successful business is about helping consumers to respond to challenges. Successful branding mirrors all and every global trend and innovation used by business to stay relevant to consumers' needs.
Matching values. Brands tell meaningful and engaging stories in a plain language. The brand and its consumers understand each other when their values match.
Adaptability. Consumers love a brand that can amaze, transform into a variety of forms and formats, and function seamlessly regardless of where it is being used. Good branding identifies the product, stays recognizable and looks great everywhere – both in digital communications, on a printed copy, packaging or in a grand exhibition hall.
When your brand is a success. Brand identity is the first to sell your product and capitalize your brand. Your brand is a success when it identifies the product, stands out among competitors, is simple, unique, emotional and adaptable. Powerful brand identities are created not by designers but by strategists. That is when branding becomes an investment that will pay off.
Positioning and marketing
Tetyana Abramova, director and founder, RITO. Apart from Ukraine, RITO clothes are sold in Vilnius, Toronto, Prague, Copenhagen and Vienna.
We have always had many clients in Europe and the USA who appreciate the quality of products above all. We focus on export not just because we want to introduce the world to the art of Ukrainian knitwear but because our products are in trend and high demand abroad. When we first presented our collections at international shows, we were looking forward to building experience in communicating with foreign buyers. But we got more than this: foreign retail experts noticed our products because they were of impeccable quality and affordable. That was the beginning of our journey to Europe, the USA and Canada where we are now represented in numerous multi-brand outlets. A few years ago, we opened our third monobrand store in Vilnius.
The RITO brand positioning is correct because we have always remained within one clear niche: premium designer knitwear. This allowed us to create our own traditions and develop alongside our clients from all over the world.
An important aspect in building an export-oriented brand is legal compliance. Although our company was born in the 1990s, our financial policy has always been transparent. Our foreign partners find it very important to have a legally reliable partner.
As far as marketing is concerned, as a premium brand, we take part in status events such as Ukraine Fashion Week. Most importantly, we follow global trends and adopt them. That is why today we are as digital as possible: we are developing an online boutique, presenting our brand on leading e-commerce platforms, working with influencers and communicating with clients in social networks.
Ukrainian export in figures
Exporters generate 47.9% of GDP and foreign currency revenues of Ukraine.
Over nine months of 2018, exports have increased by – 10.3% (34,551,114,800 dollars) in case of goods, – 11.6% (8,769,297,300 dollars) in case of services.
The top trade partners are Russia, Poland, Italy, Turkey, India, Germany.
The leading export groups are ferrous metals (22.4%), grain crops (13.9%), fat and oil (9.3%).
Goods exports to Poland (+24%), Germany (+21%), Hungary (+33%) and the USA (+31%) have shown the highest increase.
Trade with Ukraine
The nation's Export Brand, Trade with Ukraine, designed to help Ukrainian goods and services sell in international markets was presented on September 18, 2018. The first part of the slogan is transformable with regard to a particular sector – "Taste with Ukraine", "Manufacture with Ukraine", "Create with Ukraine", "Travel with Ukraine".
Photo: provided by Maryana Kahanyak, Iryna Khymchak, Tetyana Abramova, shutterstock.