The Importance of the British National Brand to the Events Industry

Over the last couple of weekends, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with the same group of a dozen, or so, International friends. The group represents a diverse mix of cultures and we often speak about a broad range of subjects including cultural differences and mis-conceptions about our respective nations. And, as Business School graduates, our conversations can — at times — cross many different business sectors and topics. National brand was one such topic that captured our attention, and — indeed — humour, as our good friend Roberto seems to inform us that almost anything with any degree of popularity has its origins in Italy, except — he ruefully concedes — Pasta, which originated in China. Of course, as Stephen Fry and his Qi Elves would point out, there are many myths that people would wrongly stake their house upon.

Greece

Our focus on the topic was fuelled in part by the on-going debt crisis in Greece and a debate around the maturity levels of industrial production in Greece versus other nations. Greece is considered a laggard in comparison to its European neighbours when assessing the full value chain of industrial production processes, which limits her ability to compete. In one way, this impedes the development of the national brand, particularly if there is a desire to promote a notion of ‘quality’ in connection to her products.

Italy

The world appears to be in love with Italian Olive Oil, yet Italy uses and exports more olive oil than it can grow. So, a large percentage of Italian Olive Oil is blended with olive oil from other countries, especially with premium quality extra virgin olive oil from Greece. Italy’s national brand promotes style, sophistication, luxury and — to some degree — quality. Albeit, this mark of quality is subjective, as fans of BBC’s Top Gear will be familiar with on-going jokes about Alfa Romeo and it’s tendency to be somewhat unreliable. However, it is this brand identity that allows extra Virgin Olive Oil originating from Greece to be re-packaged and presented as Italian Olive Oil, with a more positive market response.

Italian beer brand Peroni produced engraved beer glasses in which its customers could enjoy their beer. Now, Italy is not best known for their beers, and any self-respecting Belgian or German would emphasise this point, but such is the strength of marketing and perception upon psychology that if you walk into a pub with someone holding this glass, nine times out of ten, the engraved part of the glass will be facing outwards and visible, demonstrating the psychology of attachment to quality and brand on a subconscious level. Take a closer look next time you’re in a bar, you may be surprised by the results.

France v. Germany

Some might say the French are renowned for having the best bread. However, I and others — and we prey forgiveness from our French friends — beg to differ. The Germans, in our opinion, can boast having the best bread, and also the widest variety. However, national perception would tell us otherwise. A little less like the Greek-Italian situation but comparable in terms of false perception.

Brand Britain

As Brits, we tend to get a bit of a hammering for our food, our lack of prowess in team sports, and our approach to European integration. As with some perceptions, the reality — team sports aside — can be a little unrecognisable. What is unquestionable, however, is the perception of British creativity as a world leader. According to research published by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport on 13 January 2015, Creative Industries are now worth £76.9 Billion per year to the UK economy, or £8.8 Million an hour!

Events is one such segment that falls under the umbrella term of “Creative”, and the industry must continue to align itself more with the notion of “Creativity” as we seek to grow and export our expertise to the world. Banks Sadler are a recent example of an Event agency that has successfully established itself overseas, with new offices in the demanding Chinese market.

The success of the Olympics helped to raise the awareness and value of the UK Events and Creative sectors to those in government, and campaigns & events such as Britain for Events and the bi-annual International Festival of Business will continue to assist. However, the goal must be for the government and departments, such as the UKT&I to work more closely with our sector and help to promote the world-class services we have to export. The events and creative sectors are characterised by large numbers of SME’s and small boutique agencies, and whilst not all have a desire to grow into new overseas markets, for those that do, more support and assistance would be very welcome to capitalise upon their expertise within a sector whose national brand is strong.

The pomp, ceremony, and military precision with which Britain organises events has helped establish a valuable brand identity for our sector. We are trusted to organise large, elaborate events. We have a mature service offering in comparison to many parts of the world and thus expertise that can be exported. I’ve attended many events in different counties and the organisation and creativity simply isn’t comparable. As new markets continue to open up and opportunities come knocking, we need to be ready and able to response. As a sector, we need to collectively bang the drum, and bang it louder, to continue the momentum in promoting the British National Brand as a world leader in the Creative Industries, and gain both the recognition and support we require to continue our growth and protect the national brand.

Alan Newton

Founding Partner at Eventopedia.


Originally published at eventopedia.com on June 17, 2015.

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