Ad Week: Brand Britain

Recent political events in the UK have left us a little conflicted as to how we should be exposing our Britishness (yes, Brexit is coming up in conversation again). Once a source of such pride, is our heritage still something to celebrate, or is it a cause of conflict and embarrassment in an increasingly fragmented society?

This confusion isn’t limited to Westminster, but affects all aspects of society including the public, and most importantly, brands. Day three of Advertising Week Europe saw industry experts gather for a near three-hour session on the health of ‘Brand Britain’, and what the future holds for typically British brands.

At the heart of all topics discussed was an acceptance of the imperative role agencies and brands play in defining Britishness. Most meaningful brands walk the tightrope between having a distinct social purpose and falling into full-blown political activism, but their capacity to shape public opinion should not be understated. With trust in the government’s leadership in fairly dire straits, we’re increasingly looking towards brands to define our values as a nation and bring us all a bit closer together.

So what British values should we be drawing upon in our communications?

For over a century we’ve been an outward-facing nation built around exploration and trade with the rest of the world. Our acceptance of other cultures, diversity and willingness to challenge the status-quo has been central to growth and defines who we are today. Leading lights such as Dyson, Burberry and Yeo Valley have embraced this culture of innovation and open-mindedness while championing their distinctly British roots.

However, there’s no hiding away from the fact that Brand Britain needs some serious TLC. The remedial job may take ten years or more, but it starts in our agencies.


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