Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - What Defines Britain as a Brand?

Article excerpt

VisitBritain is reviewing Britain's brand identity and developing a line to sell it as a destination. But Britons can't agree on what constitutes Britishness, so what should it focus on?


The truth of the matter is that what defines Britain the brand for a person visiting this country is us, the British public.

Today's visitor wants a holiday that's an experience rather than an exhibition, and that means that everyone they meet - the people in hotels and B&Bs, pubs and clubs, shops and theatres - probably give a clearer sense of the brand than any advertising campaign or strapline ever could.

So the real challenge for VisitBritain, and the nation as a brand, is to get Britons to 'hug a Hungarian' or 'befriend a Bosnian'. If we can crack that, and make visitors feel really welcome here, we will have a great brand and a more successful tourism industry.


The Empire that used to define Britain both at home and abroad is something that is no longer appropriate. We live in a fragmented society defined more by local, regional or cultural identities characterised by sport, accent or religion.

Devolution is forever hovering in the background and as a people we tend to define ourselves more by what we are not than what we are.

If there really is a need to define Britain as a brand, one would first need to develop an overarching idea that is relevant to as wide a cross-section of the British public as possible, and then make it credible to the rest of the world. …