How Britain sells itself: Welcome to the land of slogans

The Scottish Executive has spent 125,000 on a new national slogan. It's all part of a wider trend for local rebranding. Emily Dugan reports

Thursday 29 November 2007 01:00 GMT

"Welcome to Scotland". As a slogan intended to rebrand and revamp the allure of an entire nation, it seems sadly perfunctory. In their attempt to sex up the road signs greeting travellers crossing the border, the finest minds in Scottish tourism appear to have settled for the absolute basic.

But there was nothing basic about the process by which the slogan was dreamt up: a six-month, highly-orchestrated campaign, led by the SNP, which, in the end, cost 125,000. That's approximately 41,666 and 60 days per word. Worth it? The tourist board thinks so. But that's what's funny about destination slogans: they take up vast amounts of blood, sweat and tears and, yet, when they are unveiled, they often seem deficient.

Take Nottinghamshire, for example, where a new slogan was hit upon after 120,000 and a campaign by the local community to retain the old one ("Our Style is Legendary"). When the substitute was announced, to much fanfare, residents complained in droves. You can hardly blame them: they'd started with a phrase of wonderfully unironic flamboyance and ended up with a single letter: 'N'. No wonder they felt short-changed.

Britain's councils and tourist boards spend millions on hiring brand consultants to choose the few special words they hope will attract new visitors. For many, it is the PR event of the year, a chance for an ageing image to be updated, a sullied name to be scrubbed up and polished.

Frequently, however, it all goes horribly wrong. In 2005, Leeds City Council suffered great embarrassment when, after bringing in the firm An Agency Called England to launch a new slogan at a cost of 150,000, locals objected to the resulting "Leeds. Live it. Love it". Initial antipathy turned to all-out hostility when they discovered that the idea wasn't even new: Hong Kong had been using "Hong Kong, Live it, Love it" since 2003.

Birmingham has also become prolific at reinvention. Not content with their previous slogans of "B in Birmingham", "Birmingham: Europe's Youngest City", or "Birmingham, The Global City With The Local Heart", Birmingham City Council announced last month that they would once again be attempting an image revamp. Even Durham has got in on the world of regional PR; it recently hired the brand gurus Wally Olins to find a miraculous slogan that might magically transform it into a world hub of tourism. Belfast, too, has decided it needs a post-Troubles makeover as it tries to embrace tourists keen to experience a destination touted as "the new Berlin".

It looks like Scotland's creation could be the first of many coming down the pipeline. Let's just hope they know what they're letting themselves in for.

Additional reporting by Charlie Pape and Sarah Calkin

How Britain sells itself...

Moray: 'Malt whisky country'

Banffshire: 'Scotland's treasure'

Aberdeen and Grampian Highlands: 'Scotland's castle and whisky country'

Ayrshire & Arran: 'Your excuse to explore Scotland'

Angus/Forfarshire: 'Scotland's birthplace'

Perth: 'The fair city'

Fife: 'Kingdom of life'

Clackmannanshire: 'The Wee County'

Kirkcudbright: 'Scenic fishing town with an aritstic heritage'

Edinburgh: 'Inspiring capital'

West Lothian/Linlithgowshire: 'A jewel in Scotland's crown'

Tweeddale: 'Adventure, activity, culture, tranquillity'

Dumfries and Galloway: 'A touch of the exotic'"

Northumberland: 'Officially England's Most Tranquil County'

Newcastle/Gateshead: 'World-class culture'

Yorkshire: 'Alive with Opportunity!'

Cumberland and the Lake District: 'Make time for you in Cumbria'

Leeds: 'Live it, love it'

Yorkshire: 'Alive with Opportunity!'

Lancashire: 'Visit Lancashire love it'

Southport: 'Day time, night time, great time'

Kingston-upon-Hull: 'The pioneering city'

Manchester: 'Uniquely Manchester'

Lincolnshire: 'Big County, Big Skies, Big Future'

Derbyshire and Peak District: 'Take a peak'

Liverpool: 'The world in one city'

Nottinghamshire: 'N'

Cheshire: 'Stay. Explore. Relax. Indulge'.

Shropshire: 'Love from Shropshire'

Peterborough: 'A city to surprise and delight you'

Norfolk: 'Time to explore'

Norwich: 'A fine city'

Suffolk: 'Choose Suffolk: As scene on the tube'

Bedfordshire: 'We Bedfordshire'

Rutland: 'Discover 100% of real England right here in Rutland'

Northamptonshire: 'Let yourself grow'

Warwickshire: 'Shakespeare's county'

Warwick: 'Experience The Past, Taste The Future'

Mid-Wales: 'Because mid-Wales is as unique as you are'

Pembrokeshire: 'Wales [sic] most popular coastal destination'

Carmarthenshire: 'The garden of Wales'

Glamorgan: 'Visit the Vale'

Worcester: 'An Ancient English City with a Modern Outlook'

Essex: 'Real Essex'

South Oxfordshire: 'So charming, South Oxfordshire'

London: 'Totally LondON'

Gloucestershire: 'England at its best'

Bath: 'Visit Bath and beyond'

Wiltshire: 'A rich history'

Kent: 'Relax, refresh, inspire'

Sussex: 'Better Mid Sussex'

Somerset: 'Jewel of the South West'

West Dorset: 'The world heritage coast'

Devon: 'Discover Devon'

Cornwall: 'Kernow Bys Vykken/Cornwall for ever'

Plymouth: 'The city of discovery'

Poole: 'Surf, rest and play'

Portsmouth: 'The waterfront city'

Eastbourne: 'The sunshine coast'

Donegal: 'Up here it's different'

Antrim: 'Live. Work. Enjoy'

Belfast: 'One Belfast'

Fermanagh :'Tell your own story'

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