Let’s unpack APAC

We’ve opened a new office in Singapore! So – why Asia?
Mike Reed
by Mike Reed
Singapore new small

In recent weeks, I started telling select people that we were about to open our third office – in Singapore. They were all interested to know what drew us to that location, and to Asia-Pacific. So I sat down with our new General Manager there, Rupert Thomson, to unpack the attractions of the region.

MR: What’s most exciting for you about the prospect of Reed Words Asia?

RT: Well, Asia is just one of the most varied and exciting parts of the planet. There’s so much innovation, change, and richness of culture here. Having a top specialist agency like Reed Words open in the region has the potential to spark all kinds of wonderful projects.

You’ve lived in Singapore for a while now. What makes it such an ideal location for this region?

So many reasons! Geographically, it’s perfect – Singapore is centrally located in the region, which has made it such a well-connected and dynamic hub for business. Many international companies have major offices in Singapore. And English is the first language, so there’s no barrier there. Singaporeans themselves are ambitious. They set high standards, and appreciate collaborations that bring in new expertise.

Which clients do you see benefitting most from our expertise?

There really is no limit. I think we have so much to offer any brand with a vision they want to communicate. And any brand that knows the value of being distinctive and consistent in voice and writing. I’m not limiting the scope of my search – I see valuable potential in every sector, and at every scale.

MR: Why does this region need an English-language verbal branding agency?

Well, ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) adopted English as its official business language in 2009, so it really is the lifeblood of brand and business comms. And the importance of English in an international business context is only getting greater.

I also feel like there’s often a mismatch between the high quality and ambition of businesses in the region, and how they talk about themselves. That’s one of the main reasons I see an opportunity for verbal branding here.

What are you most looking forward to about your new role?

What else: the words! I can’t wait to see the difference our brilliant team’s words will make out in the world. And I’m sure it’ll happen in many ways we could never predict.

The other thing is the new connections and relationships we’re going to build. In the end, it’s always about people. I’ve already started forging exciting new relationships here – as well as with the Reed Words team, of course!

What were you doing before Reed Words?

I've been a leader in the arts in the UK and Singapore. While I was at Southbank Centre in London, Reed Words did a verbal rebrand project for us. I was so impressed by the rigour of the creative process, and the impact it made.

In my own career I've built successful brands, like the award-winning venue Summerhall, and crafted many successful creative partnerships, from Jean-Paul Gaultier to national cultural agencies. That breadth of experience will set me up well both to support Reed Words’ clients and to build our presence in Asia.

What do you see as the biggest challenges or hurdles?

Not every brand understands immediately how valuable verbal branding can be. And often, they’re the ones that need it most! So we’ll need to make our case clearly and persuasively. But then, that’s what we do – and Reed Words' track record speaks for itself.

What would be a dream client for you?

I’d love for us to tackle a big, strategic brief, with high-visibility output, for a big brand that’s open to creative ideas. Ideally, they'll enjoy meeting over kaya toast* to talk through thorny questions and swap ideas. The best clients have that collaborative mindset, I think – and a sense of fun.

* A popular breakfast in Singapore and Malaysia, made with coconut jam

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