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8 June 2012 - 1:34pm | posted by | 7 comments

Britain the brand: Why protecting the monarchy is key to our future

Britain the brand: Why protecting the monarchy is key to our futureBritain the brand: Why protecting the monarchy is key to our future

The Diamond Jubilee has heightened the passions. And reaffirmed our belief that heritage and authenticity are key to Britain’s brand story.

It’s awakened feelings of Britishness on one side, while reigniting the fury of the anti-monarchists on the other. It’s one of those few issues that still has the power to split the nation.

Love them or not, what has become clearer in the last few days is the power of the Royal brand.

On a daily basis our role is to find the authentic story and communicate this in the most relevant way. This task involves research and consideration. Often it involves some honest, uncomfortable conversations with the client, backed up by solid research of course.

Sometimes you will find yourself in a rather enviable situation, with a powerful brand story. The Royal family has this position. It has everything you want: authenticity, heritage, and because of that it hasglobal appeal and incredible brand value.

The Diamond Jubilee brought this to life. It emphasised their strength and their inextricable link to Britain. One Telegraph columnist described the monarchy as “the personification of the nation”. This might seem slightly exaggerated, but to a large proportion of the international tourists that make up 30 million visits a year, this is their perception, like it ornot. Five of the top 10 UK attractions were connected to the monarchy. Our royal heritage sells, to such an extent that Britain can pretty much stake claim to ‘ownership’ of the ‘royal brand’.

Critics are, not without reason, irate that we can spend £40 million a year supporting a family that according to Forbes has a personal wealth of £310 million and other sizeable assets. Comparisons are made with the German presidency, which apparently costs £26million. But has anyone ever visited Germany on the back of the German president?

British tourism generated £17 billion in 2011, and our heritage is at the heart of this important wealth generator. The monarchy is key to our story and protecting and building on it, rather than dismantling it are key to our future.

Tim Sharp is design director at Uniform


8 Jun 2012 - 21:03
henry16158's picture

This is a flimsy pro-monarchy argument pretending to be a balanced piece about branding.

How much of the £17 billion visitor spend last year was directly linked to the royal family? (Hard to quantify, but doubt it was much). Do I go to lots of countries irrespective of whether they have a royal family? (obviously). How many people came to Britain for the jubilee celebrations from overseas? (mostly British taxpayers went to it and footed the bill; objectively it wasn't a cost effective way to attract overseas visitors nor was it probably designed to be).

8 Jun 2012 - 23:38
Scott18392's picture

You can't buy that level of international media coverage. Take a step back from emotive issue and consider the business issue.

9 Jun 2012 - 13:36
henry16158's picture

But this opinion piece doesn't simply consider it as a business issue. It starts with an opinion and then uses stats that don't back up its point one way or another.

You're right, you can't buy that level of international media coverage. But what matters is what people overseas think about that coverage and what those associations do for the British brand. Russia described the jubilee as 'pompous festivities' and Taiwan focused on the bad weather. I'm sure some viewers of the CNN coverage in the US loved it, and some viewers of the Daily Show's coverage thought it made us look old fashioned. Actually I think a lot of people overseas barely noticed it or batted an eyelid.

Going back to a broader business issue, ironically brands are all about emotions. Do tourists love our heritage? Yes. Is the monarchy important to that? Of course it plays a part along with Stonehenge and The Beatles etc etc. My guess is that the monarchy probably means more to Brits than most tourists overseas. I think people love Royal Weddings a whole lot more. Eitherway, I agree it would be better to take a step back and consider this as a business issue. And to do that you need to put a real figure on the monarchy's value rather than just give broad opinions about 'authentic stories'.

11 Jun 2012 - 11:07
neale_gilhooley's picture

The success of a brand is often largely due to its ambassadors and the UK population is one patient/polite/moaning old mouth piece of an ambassador.

I was in London that weekend and was amazed at the number of Union Flags and the general feeling of happiness verging on joy, something we are unfamiliar with north of the border. London-centric view yes, but the Monarchy was the reason people took to the streets – for parties not protests and weather aside (oh oh oh what a lovely drought!) it was a success, shared and broadcast. And it helped to cement emotions within another generation of loyal customers (subjects) and footage will be broadcast for years.

The Monarchy is important enough within the UK that the SNP want to retain the Queen as head of state in their desired independent non-republic.

11 Jun 2012 - 11:41
pgord63792's picture

As a brit living and working abroad I can agree with the comments about the strength of the 'British' brand. Irrespective of their political leanings foreign colleagues have said how much they were impressed by the recent Jubilee, with some even thinking of visiting the UK within the summer months to experience the 'brand'.

My daughter attends her french speaking school and carries her school books in a Union Jack branded bag, my son attends the same school in his Union Jack Olympic branded t-shirt. Shopping at the weekend in the local retail district and the windows are all a mix of UK royal emblems and Union Jack designed fashions. 'Britain' is cool, the icons are a must have for young and old european shoppers.

German colleagues told me that their home TV ran all the UK footage on different channels across the Jubilee weekend. The UK royals are very popular in Deutschland, like the UK their gossip mags run weekly stories about what the royals are up to.

Like them or loath them, the royals are entangeled closely with 'britishness' and this is this years top selling visual brand at the moment... in Europe.

13 Jun 2012 - 21:09
Lucyharper78's picture

Whether you like them or not, the royals are always going to bring people to this country as they are fascinated with our history.

21 Jun 2012 - 10:38
RebeccaWho's picture

Personally, looking at this as a pure branding exercise, I think we need a brand refresh. I find our outdated twee monarchy based brand a little embarrassing. We're a great country, but we've come a long way and our 'brand' should reflect our current awesome achievements, with a nod to the positives in our past, rather than dwelling so much on it.


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