BUNHILL: Dead bulldogs society

In these pages last week, we discussed an initiative from the corporate identity consultancy Wolff Olins to create a new brand image for Britain that would help our exporters and boost inward investment. It is a fascinating idea, not just because clearly understood brand values have shown their potency in raising corporate profiles around the world (Coca-Cola and Nike, for instance), but because it forces us to confront our own idea of "Britishness".

If I were a foreigner, I would have two enduring but incompatible images of the UK: the classic British reserve of people who would never stoop to anything so uncivilised as being rude and outspoken; and the classic British defiance of those who would never aspire to anything other than being rude and outspoken. So how would you come up with a single identity for this lot? A bulldog crossed with a dead sheep, perhaps?

This wasn't Wolff Olins's approach, of course. Instead, it chose to emphasise all those positive qualities we've got going for us, but which we tend to underplay because of our low self-esteem. Among the values it pinpointed in developing the new brand were "welcoming" ("We've managed to turn round the football hooligan image since Euro 96," said a spokeswoman), "diversity" (a reference to our rich mix of ethic and cultural influences), "community" (the caring qualities demonstrated by the National Health Service and events such as Live Aid), and "innovative" (pioneering companies like The Body Shop). The overall brand image chosen by Wolff Olins, however, was "original" - a quality routinely demonstrated by our fashion, music and advertising industries.

It seems as good an identity as any, though I would have gone for "caring" because anyone who has fallen ill on the Continent will have been staggered at the conduct of doctors who behave like mechanics: "Right, we're going to treat your ear infection and that'll cost you 60,000 pesetas, but you've got a perforated bladder as well, so do you want us to patch it up or trade it in for a new one? By the way, do you fancy a part ex on a liver?"

But that's enough negative thinking because Wolff Olins wants to accentuate the positive, and this is the approach it has taken in designing a prototype logo for the nation: the single word "Britain" appearing on a red and blue background. You'll notice that the "Great" has gone, along with the Union Jack, because this is a sacrifice the consultancy feels we may have to make to kill off the Imperialist and Far Right connotations that dog our image abroad. The comedian Alexei Sayle looked at the problem in a different way: "Why Great Britain? I mean you don't get Average Italy or F*@!!** Brilliant France."

Wolff Olins's idea is still at the development stage, but it seems convincing enough. I can't help fearing, however, that one day the xenophobes will hijack this bright new image and turn it to our disadvantage. Look out for slogans along the following lines: "We're British: we're the most caring, cultural, diverse and welcoming country in the world. So the rest of you can sod off."

Cats and watchdogs

SO THE supervision of our financial services sector is to be taken away from the Bank of England and other City regulators and handed to a new all-powerful watchdog. Well, while the Government's about it, perhaps it could create a regulator dedicated to saving language from Square Mile savagery.

If you doubt the need for this, just recall the reaction of the Bank's Governor, Eddie George, to the creation of a single City policeman: "You can skin the cat in all sorts of different ways, and they all have pros and cons. The important thing is that you have to make it work."

Call me literal-minded, but there don't seem to be any pros in this procedure and it certainly won't work for the cat; all we'll get is a dead pet and enough screeching to wake up the neighbourhood.

You can see where Mr George is coming from, however, because cat skinning is a tried and tested proverb and like all tried and tested proverbs - "you can't have your cake and eat it", "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush", "the happy mongoose lays a mud pie" (okay, I might have made that one up though I'm pretty sure Eric Cantona used it) - we know what it means but don't ask us to explain it.

Perhaps what we need, therefore, is an updated proverb - and a perfect one suggests itself in the way the Bank gained a bit more control over monetary policy while losing all its clout in financial regulation: "There's more than one way to skin an Eddie George."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album