Wednesday, 28 January 2015
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News analysis: The Made in Britain logo

The Made in Britain identity project has certainly been a PR triumph for kitchen company Stoves, which is behind the initiative and has got its name into pretty much every local and national paper in the UK. Some observers, however, have questioned whether the resulting logo is a fitting marque for UK design and even whether such a logo is needed at all.

Made in Britain

The Made in Britain marque, which launched last week, was designed by Nottingham University student Cynthia Lee, following a student competition run by Stoves. Lee received £200 and and LCD TV for winning the contest.

Hosted on the Stoves website, the logo is available to download for any companies or manufacturers who produce their products in the UK. Stoves says the application process ‘is designed to be self-policing’ and a spokeswoman for the company says those who use the logo will have to sign up to terms and conditions from the Trade Descriptions Act 1968, and will themselves be responsible for this.

Conservative MP for South Staffordshire Gavin Williamson, who had previously spoken in Parliament in support of the Stoves campaign, says, ‘I believe a Made in Britain marque is a great way to highlight what Britain does best and it is high time we showed how proud we are of our British businesses.’

Denver Hewlett, chief executive of Stoves, says, ‘We think that this logo really captures the essence of the campaign and will proudly be displaying it on our website and marketing material and encouraging other UK manufacturers to do the same.’

Companies including Cains Beer, Imperial Bathrooms and Screen Tek have reportedly already signed up to use the logo.

Leaving aside any aesthetic criticism of the identity (and one leading UK designer told Design Week the logo made them ‘recoil in horror’,) some observers have raised questions about the commissioning process and the intended use of the logo.

Deborah Dawton, chief executive of the Design Business Association, says, ‘The intentions are obviously good and Stoves have obviously commissioned something that works very well for them. What it isn’t is a national marque - clearly the DBA wouldn’t advocate a national logo being created by a design student.’

The Associate Parliamentary Group is currently running its own unrelated campaign to promote UK design and manufacturing - called Made By Britain. This project sees all MPs asked to nominate a product that is manufactured in their constituency. Nominations so far include custard creams (made in Carlisle) and the Mini (Oxford East).

APDIG manager Jocelyn Bailey says, ‘Our initiative relates much more to UK jobs.’ She describes the Made in Britain campaign as ‘a little shortsighted - in that global supply chains are really important. In the Made By Britain initiative a lot of MPs are suggesting componants that go into things - and even if you take something like fishfingers [made in Great Grimsby] the fish is imported, they’re only made in the UK.’

Made in Britain is clearly a buzz phrase at the moment - BBC economics supremo Evan Davis is currently presenting a TV series with that very title looking at the UK economy, and much of the activity can be traced back to Chancellor George Osborne’s pronouncement in March that ‘We want the words Made in Britain, Created in Britain, Designed in Britain and Invented in Britain to drive our nation forward.’

Dawton, who points to the Foreign Office-run Queen’s Award for Enterprise as one potential model for a national marque, says, ‘Going beyond what the marque actually looks like, it would need to be picked up and checked properly. The best thing would be if this latest campaign prompted action for something to exist officially.’

Readers' comments (24)

  • I just wonder if the LCD TV won for designing the 'Made in Britain' marque was actually made in Britain?

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  • "and one leading UK designer told Design Week the logo made them ‘recoil in horror’"

    How supportive of our design students we are!

    While I'd disagree with the process used by Stoves. And I'd envision something different for the logo, the above comment is a pretty stupid one to make.

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  • Ignoring the issue of design competitions just for a moment, I'm just curious about the prize.

    Obviously the objective of "Made In Britain" is to highlight British products and encourage people in the UK to buy locally made - so why was an LCD TV awarded as a prize (which was 99% likely not made in the UK)?

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  • Im a graphic design student and I never heard about this, Im sure most didn't! The shortlisted designs are here;

    and they really aren't very good. Very sure my peers at my uni and all the others could have done much better. The winning one is the most obvious choice, but Nottingham University don't have a design course do they? Think they must have done a bad job promoting this competition, didn't see a thing about it on D&AD or CR. Such a missed opportunity

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  • Not another design competition. When will designers start to get paid for their talent and hard work? These poor students are being used to undermine the very industry they are trying to enter. From looking at the bad results they are typical of design commissioned (or should I say acquired) through this process.

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  • I'm quite shocked on a number of levels. I have a design studio and am a part-time lecturer at HE Level Graphics. Deborah Dawton's comment is very offensive. Our students learn through live projects and produce amazing national standard work. The Made in Britain issue is very topical, but Stoves should know that the 'Trading Standards Act' does not exist - what do they mean? This opens up a whole new can of worms. I will watch this one unravel with interest.

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  • Note - it's the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 - this has now been amended.

  • "clearly the DBA wouldn’t advocate a national logo being created by a design student."

    What!? Why?

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  • I hope the DBA quote has been used wildly out of context otherwise I despair for how some people view students (i.e. from the vertical limit of an upturned nose)

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  • Cynthia Lee is a Chemical & Environmental Engineering student, not a design student.

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  • Whilst I am all for supporting UK manufacturing, in fact I even write a blog about it (, I think that this is a real missed opportunity.
    This logo may work well on engineering products but I can't see it being used by anyone in the clothing sector for instance.
    The Made by Britain campaign is a similarly off the mark attempt at highlighting what Britain makes best. Do you know what the MP for South Staffs (mentioned above) actually nominated as the product that defined what his constituency made best? McCain Smiles! Is a processed potato product really the best that he could come up with?
    Where are Mulberry in the Made by Britain list? One of the countries highest rising stocks who make 30% of their products in the UK and they didn't even get a mention!

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