Right of Reply: Tom Buchanan

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The Independent Culture
The acting director-general of the British Council replies to a leading article on flag flying

YOUR LEADER article yesterday (Flying the flag is no longer enough today) crystallised the confused attitude which many British companies seem to have towards the use of the British brand.

BA's decision to install the reviled "world-images" livery was much criticised. Their partial reinstatement of the Union Jack, prompted by customer demand and rivalry with Virgin, also sends mixed messages. Such indecision helps no one.

Impressions of a country or company are founded on experience, not logos. The British Council works in more than 100 countries, providing access to the best of British education, arts, science and governance to both the world's poorest and most powerful people. It has never been involved with "colonial flag-waving" but seeks to promote Britain as a valued partner overseas. It does this by creating opportunity for people all over the world.

It has never been the case that "it is just enough to wave our national flag". Organisations like the British Council and the BBC enjoy international respect because of their ability to deliver a valued service. This says more about Britain than a flag on a tail fin ever could.

British Airways is a successful, internationally respected airline. As a business, its primary aim must be to make a profit, but by focusing on the value and service it provides, it not only furthers this aim but will also serve to present a positive image of Britain in the process.

It is the job of organisations such as the British Council to promote a wider knowledge of the UK as a modern, dynamic nation and it does not do this by outmoded jingoism but through a consistent, structured image of Britain and its value overseas.

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