Brand Britain and the lessons from the Platinum Jubilee


It seems to be a universally acknowledged truth that the Queen's recent Platinum Jubilee celebrations were a great success - for her, for the monarchy and the UK. 

On the one hand, it was a joyful occasion after so much stress and strain around the world in recent years, and poignantly, one in which people could celebrate together. 

However, it was also more than that. It was a moment that showed the monarchy doing what it does best - putting the shine back on brand Britain, and as always, there's a lesson in that about the enduring power of brand for all of us.

Staying relevant while staying true to your brand 

The monarchy's relevance is often called into question in this no longer deferential age. However, those who are ardent supporters, or even those who benignly accept the royal family's existence, will tell you one thing - it is a constant. Having evolved into a constitutional monarchy, it is also above and separate from the muck and grime of daily politics. For 70 years, Queen Elizabeth has steered the great ship Windsor with those two principles in mind. 

It is easy to forget that when she came to the throne, the monarchy was not far out of a challenging and vulnerable period in its history. The change of name to the House of Windsor in 1917 and the uproar around the abdication were fairly recent events. There have been incidents during her reign - some fairly recently. However, she has quietly and expertly understood her role, value, and how to maintain both for the better part of a century. Such is her achievement that in the latest YouGov polls, 81% of people in the UK were shown to have a positive opinion of the Queen. The majority of Britains also remain in favour of monarchy.

The message? It takes a lot of effort and an astute leader to remain constant.

Brand Windsor and Brand Britain

The British royal family is a strategic and valuable asset to the UK on a commercial level. One report from business valuation consultancy Brand Finance in 2017 found that they have an impact on the UK's economy to the tune of £1.8 billion annually. They have also shown their value from a PR and diplomatic standpoint over the years - an iron hand perhaps in a chic velvet glove. 

On a more personal level, the Queen herself proved to be a source of comfort to many during the pandemic. Her maternal words, and later the very public image of her mourning the loss of her husband alone - as so many other people had done, were both a balm and an example. She said:

"We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again."

Indeed that is what has now happened - gloriously and triumphantly in the form of the Jubilee weekend.

A strong brand starts with leadership

Where the Queen knows the value of her role is in shining a light on all the best things about the UK - this is where her particular style of servant leadership is at its most impressive. Diverting the limelight away from the ephemeral nature of politics and politicians, the Jubilee showcased the vast array of diversity, creative talent and humour that the UK has to offer. 

The pageant was a smorgasbord of influences from across the empire and beyond. At the same time, the Party at the Palace was a feast of technical ingenuity, musical variety and topical areas of influence. Even the service at St Paul's, whilst a Church of England event, welcomed religious leaders from other faiths, including the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. 

Brand Britain has suffered in recent years - Brexit, political skirmishes and the general negativity around the pandemic have all meant that pride in Britain and being British had somewhat lost its lustre. The Jubilee felt like a reset, showing the UK at its best and reminding us that the standards of our politicians and the select few do not equate to everything that the UK has to offer. Through it, we were able to see a nation built on centuries of immigration and cultural diversity; we could see a beautiful, scaled-down monarchy relevant to the future whilst drawing a clear thread to the past. That thread spanned Her Majesty's influence, the work of the Duke of Edinburgh, particularly regarding the environment and now taken up by Prince William, and at the same time, the heartwarming antics of a young family - notably the show-stealing Prince Louis.

Brand lessons from the British royals

It is said that the royal family doesn't think in years; it thinks in decades or even longer. Perhaps that is why the monarchy in Britain has lasted more than 1,000 years while many of its European counterparts have disappeared. Of course, good fortune plays a role well.  As a business and a brand, this is where the lessons lie.

A truly powerful brand is built over time, and it needs to evolve to be preserved. A brand needs to be considered above the fleeting nature of trends, carefully navigating a path through what's popular today whilst holding true to the core values that make it who and what it is. 

There are always day-to-day challenges that need to be addressed in business - even the Queen has not been able to escape that. However, a long-term view and an outward-looking perspective that understands the changing world in which we operate can help you take those in your stride whilst working towards the long-term sustainability, viability and value of your brand and business.

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