We had an interesting meeting led by David Amos at the Brand Network Meeting on Monday.
We asked ourselves what is it that captures the essence of Brand UK?
Inventiveness, creativity, high quality specialist manufacture like formula one, patents, music and institutions like the Royals, pageantry, the NHS and national trust. And what about the dark side of NEETS, binge drinking and the unofficial national anthem. The one that begins “We don’t need no education…..”
There’s no doubt that we think of ourselves as different. We have a tradition going back a thousand years of a laissez faire approach to life. You only need a director, a company secretary and £2 of issued shares to form a company – not £25k on deposit with the Government for 6 months. You need a proposer, a seconder and 10 assentors + £500 per constituency to fight a general election as a political party in the UK. Try doing that in continental Europe. In the middle ages anyone who escaped the land and survived undetected in a town for a year and a day became free.
I think – and tried to convince the group – that its this cultural bias towards getting away with things and denying central authority the right to license everything like they do in the EU gives us the freedom to be creative and to develop things organically and in a bottom up kind of way.
It also means that people are free to move from profession to profession here in a way they can’t do in Europe. In my first job I was dealing with a German engineering company who asked me if my Doctorate was in Engineering or Economics. My answer that it was in Biochemistry was literally incomprehensible to them.
I think this leads to the culture of free-wheeling creativity that is characteristic of brand UK.
To the rest of the world it’s misbehaviour. The Chinese certainly thought that Boris waving the flag with his jacket unbuttoned and David Beckham kicking a football into the crowd at the end of the Beijing Olympics constituted misbehaviour on a grand scale.
So what is our symbol of misbehaviour and creativity? David introduced us to the concept of the cricketer’s tea – an inspired mix of salted nuts and crisps pictured here. Says it all really.