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Innovation Island:the creative industries’ brand strategy presenting Sri Lanka’s innovative capacity

Picture this—a new kind of creative paradise in the making. One that comes from a culture that has its own ideas, technologies and practices in creativity. One tuned in to the age-old ideologies of sustainability and wellbeing, as well as the aspirations of tomorrow’s world. A hotspot for connecting with fresh talent, innovative brands, conscious manufacturers and unusual infrastructures in place for product innovation. A place of opportunity. A new destination for design. Welcome to the ‘innovation island’—the future face of Sri Lanka’s creativity.

‘Innovation island’ is a concept that coins the brand strategy for Sri Lanka’s creative industries. It aims to portray that it’s not just any kind of innovation that Sri Lanka is presenting—but, a philosophy that takes its own unique shape inspired by an ancient heritage, energised by homegrown talent and rooted in its modern industrial strengths. It embodies South Asia’s freshest creative dynamic. It presents an unusual creative hub where the world can meet a new kind of maker, whether high-tech or low-tech—one that prioritises the people, the planet and the profit. Innovation island looks to share the optimism of a place charged with undiscovered stars in fashion and design. It presents the beginnings of a powerful new industrial ecosystem converging creativity, innovation and business.

Photo credit: Radley Yeldar (Design Consultancy)

Why would Sri Lanka’s creative industries need a brand strategy?

We’re at what would perhaps be considered the golden age of branding, with everything and everyone, from nations to individuals being branded for commercial advantage. Industries too have branded themselves to great effect, as a way to clarify, package and market itself, much like a product. Globally, UK’s ‘Creativity is Great Britain’ campaign, China’s ‘Designed in China’ label, Netherland’s hashtag incorporated ‘Creative #olland’ slogan and Japan’s ‘Cool Japan’ strategy that helped in propagating the nation’s modern image, evidence the power of a well thought out creative industries’ brand strategy. Locally, the Sri Lankan apparel industry unifying under the ‘Garments without guilt’ campaign that cemented its reputation as an uber-progressive maker industry at the time, is an example of powerful industry branding.

Similarly, ‘innovation island’ is a brand strategy that aims to solidify a marketable identity for the local creative industries. It projects the local creative industries’ values and essence, so that like-minded collaborators and partners from around the world will be able to connect and make business with Sri Lanka. For Sri Lanka’s creative community, it becomes a banner to unite under, and converge efforts and thinking as they enter global markets.

Photo credit: 33S Colombo via

Innovation island beginnings: Sri Lanka Design Festival + Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2018

‘Innovation island’ is a brand strategy that is still in the making, as the initial discussions for a national creative industries’ development strategy proposal take shape. Two major events that are set to take place in 2018 will take on the spirit of this brand strategy to demonstrate its potential and to serve as active platforms to continue the discussion on Sri Lanka’s creative industries’ policy: these are Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (Oct 25-28) and Sri Lanka Design Festival (Nov 9-11) where Sri Lanka’s creative industries annually gather with an international audience in design, business, and the general public.

Both events will portray Sri Lanka’s capacity to merge design, culture, innovation and business, opening its doors to the world as South Asia’s new hub for creativity. The events will embody ‘innovation island’ theme depicting Sri Lanka’s vast heritage of sustainable practices and creative thinking that gives the local creative industries its own identity, along with the mature infrastructures in place for design education, manufacturing, packaging and retail that the Sri Lankan creative industries can leverage on. This strategic portrayal of the local creative industries will be an open invitation for foreign businesses, international designers, studios, labels, brands and other creative practitioners to collaborate with Sri Lanka.

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