Crash Course in: flying the flag

If you've just done some market research about the company and found that most consumers think your brand is Scandinavian, maybe it's time to trumpet your British credentials...

by MT Staff
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

The world likes us. Simon Anholt, an independent adviser specialising in national image and reputation, says: 'I compile the Nation Brands Index (20,000 consumers in 20 countries), which regularly puts the UK near the top of the list - we are very much admired around the world.' British products are ranked joint fifth with France's. A study by Leapfrog Research this year found that in the UK 74% of people prefer to buy British goods, given the chance.

Made in .. is good. 'Referencing your country of origin is helpful to consumers because it simplifies the decision-making process,' says Anholt. 'Knowing where a product comes from helps consumers to choose.'

It's not uniform. Perceptions of British products do vary by sector and by market. 'In the high-tech sector, sadly and wrongly, there is not a primary association with the UK,' says Anholt. 'Made in Britain' scores highly for heritage and some luxury products, as well as for creative industries such as fashion and design. And British provenance is more likely to be valued in former colonies than in countries with few historic links.

Look before you leap. Do your own research to find out how marketing your company under the British flag will be perceived. Government body UK Trade and Investment has commercial staff in almost 100 countries who can be tapped for advice. 'It can carry out research and prepare programmes for you,' says Clive Drinkwater, an international trade director at UKTI Northwest.

Don't be crass. Jingoistic imagery like the British bulldog or simply trumpeting that 'Britain is great' won't win many admirers. Nor will expressing your Britishness by putting down other nations. Contemporary imagery of swinging London and pop culture does go down well - particularly any fashion-related products.

Be specific. 'The strengths that Britain has are in things such as quality, innovation and creativity, R&D and reliability,' says Drinkwater. 'Be specific and granular about why being British is an asset in your particular sector.'

Spell out your credentials. 'The things people are most concerned about when a British brand is bought are jobs and the economy,' says Sarah Buckle, client services director of Leapfrog. So let people know how many jobs and suppliers you support in the UK.

Join Team Britain. Signing up to trade delegations or joint stands at trade shows can be a particularly cost-effective way to position yourself under the Union Jack umbrella.

Do say: 'Made in Britain, world class.'

Don't say: 'Cool Britannia has a certain ring about it ...'

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