The introduction of a new identity by the English Tourism Council has highlighted the fact that, despite a reputation for creativity and innovation, the UK, and in particular England seems to have a problem representing its own identity. Why is this, and how can it be addressed?

‘We give less importance to the future than the past. We define ourselves as a nation by what we have been, and not what we could be. As individuals, organisations and a country we’re uncomfortable with the radical notion that the future starts with a blank sheet of paper. Resolve that and you release our true creative potential.’


‘Britain’s past identity crises have been caused by over-use of empty images or hollow phrases such as “cool Britannia”, with nothing substantial to back them up. Through initiatives like Millennium Products, we’ve tried to fill that void so Britain is seen, particularly overseas, to represent a whole creative ethos, not just a “cool” image.’

Andrew Summers, Chief Executive, Design Council

‘In the days of the British Empire, England’s economic and military power fed our sense of moral purpose and confidence – our brand. As those benchmarks have changed, so has our sense of purpose and identity. England is starting to rebuild its confidence based on a new paradigm. An identity which becomes a brand could help speed up that process, but it should not be confused with a badging exercise to boost tourism.’

Ray Taylor, director, revolution

‘The truth is that the English have never been more self-assertive. You only have to look at the tribal rebirth of the St Georges cross. Unfortunately, the real England that asserts itself in this way hasn’t much to do with rolling hills and roses round the door – it has more to do with dole queues and the fact that one child in three is living in poverty.’


‘We’re always reminded everything can be a brand, but not everything can be a “client”. When it comes to national identity, and re-branding Britain, the key creative challenge is not the design of a new logo, but to correctly identify the client best able to commission the design in the first place.’

RALPH ARDILL, Marketing & Strategic Planning Director, Imagination

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