Brand Britain Takes a Beating

Last Updated Apr 21, 2008 2:41 PM EDT

There has been much debate about 'British values' over the last few years; what do the British stand for, what are our core beliefs and how do we ensure that immigrants to the UK embrace these values?

Chief among these values must be self-deprecation. Because if you looked at Britain's national papers or listened to the average conversation down the pub, you'd get impression that we poor Brits are living in the worst country in the world. Everything in Britain is bad, nothing works -- we can't do anything right.

Yet when it comes to British brands, the public is less critical. I recently oversaw a process to identify the strongest business-to-business brands operating in the UK for the Superbrands organisation. To my surprise the outcome of the survey -- conducted among 30 UK experts and over 1,500 business professionals -- sees a top 10 dominated by British stalwarts such as the BBC, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, the Rolls-Royce Group, the FT and even British Airways (the survey predates the T5 debacle).

These brands have hardly performed flawlessly. Need I highlight BP's problems in the US, or BA's travails, even pre-T5? Yet we give British institutions the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it is time to start viewing our country more positively. Just as BP, the BBC and GSK are still are great brands in spite of recent troubles, Britain, while imperfect, has a stronger reputation than some would have us believe.

In a survey by leading nation brand expert Simon Anholt, which tapped the views of 30,000 people across 35 countries, 'brand Britain' has fallen for the first time in years to second place in the league table of country brands -- it narrowly lost the top spot to Germany. Anholt foresees Britain regaining the top spot in the next set of results.

On the whole, the world regards us positively. And if we are talking truly global brand success and loyalty, then bow to the true international brand champions -- the English Premiership and its constituents. With well over a billion people from Dubai to Shanghai tuning in to watch premiership games, the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool are a branding phenomenon.

My plea is that my fellow countrymen view our country as we view many of our top brands, not with rose tinted spectacles, but fairly. It is not as bad as the "Daily Mail" would have us believe.

How do you view 'brand Britain'? Let us know by posting your comments below.