Scotland the brand! Scotland the nation!

saltireI have particular reason to be aware of the importance of branding. In what is now very much a previous life, I gloried in the self-conferred job title of ‘Corporate Imaging Consultant’. I’m not sure how often or how much the jargon impressed. But I made a sort of living out of the work, which involved all aspects of a business’s ‘public facing’ communication, from logo, stationery and mission statement to website, print advertising and promotional materials. It was work that I enjoyed – mostly! The job required a combination of creative design, cognitive psychology and a certain degree of IT skill. It could be very satisfying.

There are two ways a business can be successful. It can succeed at selling products or services. Or it can succeed by creating a brand. If you’re selling products or services in a dynamic market, you have to be constantly innovating and adapting to the changing environment. The product or service you’re selling may change from year to year, or possibly even more frequently. And the ‘story’ you’re telling about that product or service will also have to change. It will need to be constantly revised and updated to reflect changes in the product or service and/or changes in the market.

If you create a successful brand, it never changes. Or very, very rarely. The ‘story’ associated with the brand is constant and consistent. Maintain the brand identity and reputation and you can use it to sell pretty much any product or service – so long as it doesn’t damage the brand’s public image. This affords great flexibility. While the feet of the business are paddling furiously under the surface in an effort to keep abreast of the market and, hopefully, ahead of competitors, the brand glides gracefully and serenely in the public gaze.

Branding is important. Branding is crucial. You don’t mess with the brand!

An effective brand doesn’t sell a product or service. It conveys a set of values and associations; as well as various abstract qualities, such as speed or comfort or reliability. It doesn’t make you want something. It makes you feel something. Perhaps more than anything, the brand offers reassurance. A brand which represents the appropriate values and associations allows the prospective purchaser to feel confident that they are making a wise choice.

Unless you’re a British Nationalist politician, you can probably see where this is going.

There is no doubt that ‘Scotland’ is a brand. There is no question that, as a brand, it is hugely successful and immensely valuable. In fact, ‘Scotland’ is a ‘meta-brand’. It is a brand which, when overlaid on it, supplements and augments a corporate brand. Spring water is good. Scottish spring water is better. Scottish spring water is automatically and always better. It is better, not on account of the product – although this must be of a suitable quality – but on account of the ‘Scottish’ branding.

Unless you’re a British Nationalist politician, you’ll be able to see the value in this. You’ll be able to see how ‘Scotland’, the brand, gives producers and providers an edge. You’ll understand how it adds a premium.

There is no escaping the fact that ‘Scotland’ the brand is in jeopardy. It is under threat of being diminished and diluted and discredited. So-called ‘Union Jackery’ is a very real phenomenon. Particularly in the case of food and drink, the Scottish brand, is being actively eroded by an onslaught of Union Jack (mis)labelling which is totally inexplicable and unjustifiable in business terms. You don’t mess with the brand!

So, how are we to explain this phenomenon? What might trump the value of the ‘Scottish’ brand? We can surely discount a commercial motive. It is simply not credible that anyone could suppose this ‘Union Jackery’ might improve the market appeal of the products involved. You just don’t mess with the brand! There is almost always a cost to doing so. Spring water that is selling well because of its ‘Scottish’ branding isn’t going to sell better by having the values and associations of that brand undermined.

If anybody calling themselves a ‘Corporate Imaging Consultant’ recommended switching the branding from ‘Scottish’ to ‘British’ then they shouldn’t just be sacked, they should be forced to change their own name and live out the rest of their deservedly miserable lives as ‘Garry Glitter’.

The only other thing that might override the economic imperative is some pressing political consideration. There is no commercial logic to the destruction of ‘Scotland’, the brand. But there may be political logic. If you are a ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist politician who believes as an unshakeable tenet of that vile ideology that Scotland was ‘extinguished’ by the Union; and whose driving ambition is to make that obliteration a reality.

Ruth Watson is being perfectly honest when she says that #KeepScotlandTheBrand is “not party political”. Nor is the campaign to save ‘Scottish’ branding directly linked to the campaign to the Yes movement. But ‘Scotland’ is more than a commercial brand. It is not possible to entirely separate the effort to preserve Scotland’s name and commercial value as a brand from the fight to defend Scotland’s identity and political distinctiveness as a nation.

Everybody in Scotland should be part of both campaigns. Unless you’re a British Nationalist politician.


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11 thoughts on “Scotland the brand! Scotland the nation!

  1. There is no fault in your logic (that I can see), but the politicians are systematically destroying Scotland.

    “…the fight to defend Scotland’s identity and political distinctiveness as a nation.”

    I had a long conversation with an SNP MSP a few weeks ago and I asked her why they promote ‘family planning,’ abortion and fruitless ‘alternative lifestyles’ so that our low fertility rate is a danger due to the ‘ticking time-bomb’ of an ageing population and to the culture itself.

    Her answer was to replace the Scots who will not be conceived or will be killed in the womb with immigrants. When I asked her how this would affect our culture, she was quite confident that the incomers would be eager to become Scottish and speak the dialects and nothing will change.

    That’s not what history teaches us. For example, the movement of people into the Lowlands saw English replace Gaelic. The mass immigration which will be required to provide the services and pay the taxes due to many years of there being more deaths than births in Scotland can only mean a further dilution of our identity.

    There’s a Londoner lives near me who moved up here because London isn’t London any more, in his view.

    The big, big problem with all the parties is that PC is, to them, a religion, and they are blind to the consequences of their fanaticism. That or they don’t care, which, being mainly psychopaths, is another possibility.

    My Tory constituency MSP refuses to speak to me about this, as does a Labour regional MSP. They cannot abide anyone who threatens their religion of PC, because, when it’s analysed, it falls to pieces and they must keep themselves deluded or their careers are over.

    Whether we get the SNP’s idea of fake independence or not, it hardly matters. Andrew Neather, Tony Blair advisor, admitted that the purpose of mass immigration was to change society and to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity.”

    The chap from London moved into a one-bedroom council flat, so I doubt he’s a person of the Right. A large number of immigrants say there has been enough immigration, but I guess they’ll be seen as ‘racists’ by the mentally ill politicians who won’t accept that any self-respecting nation always has sane immigration controls in place.

    But then, try finding any sanity in Holyrood.

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    1. Culture is organic. It evolves. Attempting to halt that process of evolution is like trying to stop the tides, and is just as likely to leave you looking like a bit of a Cnut.

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  2. Your thesis would be easily proven by providing examples of businesses who have ‘switched’ from a Scottish flag to a British flag and seen sales suffer.

    Got any?

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  3. “Culture is organic. It evolves.”

    So why in the heck do you care what Scotland is like, who runs it, who comes here, who leaves, or if, as is our destiny, the descendants of the clansfolk disappear?

    Why are you complaining about the evolving nature of the Union Flag replacing the Cross of St Andrew?

    Are you a politician, or have you ever been one, because your cognitive faculties seem to be lacking? Is PC your religion too?

    You sound like one of those conspiracy lunatics who blames the Jews for everything, but with you it’s the English. I saw your post about the NHS. The SNP has made a dog’s dinner of handling probably every devolved matter, but you’ll still blame the English because they’re holding a few things back from the retarded MSPs who want the power to ruin everything.

    I guess I’m wasting my time trying to get past the tartan wall you have erected between yourself and reality.

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  4. My Tory MP, Lamont, said it was an SNP plot, with the same ringing verisimilitude as the liar Carmichael’s bleat that the effort of ordinary citizen voters attempt to bring him face to face with his lies and denials and the mendacity with which he attempted to change the course of an election was an SNP Plot. Lamont was correct in one aspect, however, which is that there is most certainly a “plot”, except it is a Unionist “plot” to persuade what they assume is a gullible public that the UK is one and indivisible.

    There may be those who are happy to ask for British Whisky, or British Aberdeen-Angus beef, or British spring water or British Harris Tweed, or British Stornaway Black Pudding, or British Tayberries or whatever. I’m not. I want to support local farmers, crafts workers, fishers and so on and when these people have worked hard to associate the name of Scotland with that of quality it would be nothing short of criminal for that link to be broken in the name of Unionism.

    I would no sooner look for European Cognac than for British Whisky.

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  5. So you would deny the right of successful Scottish companies to brand their products as they see fit? The marketing departments of both Walkers and Tunnocks, both large, thriving Scottish companies conclude that particularly in the European markets, the Union flag gives them a better selling edge than the saltire. Who are we to argue that?

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