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
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?