The Marketing Society Forum: Is Brand Britain Facing an Identity Crisis?

Marketing, September 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

The Marketing Society Forum: Is Brand Britain Facing an Identity Crisis?


As Scottish voters go to the polls in the independence referendum on 18 September, brands are considering what impact the result may have on business

NO - Jemima Bird, Commercial & operations director, Moss Bros Group

@jpd26

From 2011 Britain felt like it had its mojo; a massively celebrated royal wedding followed by a much-loved Jubilee. Cock-a-hoop over golden sporting moments, from Bradley Wiggins on the Champs elysees to a winning Olympics, a parachuting-with-James-Bond Queen and the world's best music and theatre. Andy Murray's tears of joy marking an end to the 77-year search for Wimbledon glory and a home Ashes win. To top it off, Kate popped out an heir.

Then, a screeching halt. We didn't get the World Cup. We got spanked 5-0 in an Ashes whitewash. England crashed out of the World Cup. Andy didn't retain his crown. And to top it off, Scotland has been deciding whether to leave (please don't go).

We're not facing an identity crisis, it's more that a long, glorious summer has become a bit of a chilly winter. Should Scotland vote to stay, then, like the England cricket captain nearly knocking a century in this summer's third Test against India, I think we will all start remembering how 'Great' we really are.

NO - Mike Cullis, Managing director, Soul

@silluc @soullondontweet

A NatCen survey in April stated that we're only 'somewhat proud' to be British. How British.

The rest of the world seems to like Britishness. Our rich heritage combines with world city status - for many, London, England and Britain are interchangeable. Our brands are testament to this: the BBC is revered globally, Japan worships Paul Smith, and Hollywood stars love Wimbledon. Germany values Britishness too - after all, BMW bought Mini and Rolls-Royce.

Britain still has meaning globally. Britishness is 'owned' by companies from India to Scotland - the latter remains dear to many Americans in search of the ancestral castle, regardless of devolution.

We've always had a mixed identity, and Brand Britain will continue to evolve. The answer seems to be in our global identity, and as a nation we need to learn how to appreciate that mix.

MAYBE - Tom Knox, Chairman, DLKW Lowe

@tomknox

The 'Britain is GREAT' campaign has done a great job for UK Trade & Investment, and I suspect that the niceties of which countries are officially part of our great nation are lost on most export markets.

The world is quite comfortable with us calling ourselves the United Kingdom or Great Britain, and doesn't much care about what the revocation of the Act of Union of 1707 will do to our constituent parts.

In the (as polls suggest) unlikely event of Scotland voting Yes, Scottish brands will be presented with some immediate opportunities, but the truth is that they already have a distinctive Scottish identity.

The biggest problem with a Yes vote for Brand Britain could be visual identity - the potential loss of the Union Jack would surely change the way the world sees us and undo more than 200 years of brand-equity building. …

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