Britain, Brand That Nation!

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  01.28.08 | 3:17 PM ET


For the first time in the history of Brand That Nation! we focus on a country that is actively seeking to re-brand itself. Reuters has reported that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is seeking a national motto, five or six words long, to appear on passports, public buildings, and birth certificates—and heck, why not tourism brochures, too? The New York Times chimed in this weekend, too. The venerable Times of London has been collecting suggestions, and as Kate Kelland writes, “cynicism and subversion are emerging as the most prominent national characteristics.”

Official name: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Population: 60,776,238

Capital: London

Motto: To be determined

Noteworthy factoid: British athletes compete on a single team for major international sporting events like the Olympics, but for three of the country’s most popular team sports—football (soccer), rugby union, and cricket—the “home nations” of England, Scotland and Wales compete separately. Northern Ireland sometimes competes on its own and sometimes shares a team with the Republic of Ireland.

Quick travel take: “Surf-pounded cliffs and crystal-clear lochs, confident metropolises and ancient towns, dramatic wildernesses and remote island getaways - with so much on offer, which Britain will you choose?”—Lonely Planet

The problem: While Britain certainly has no trouble attracting millions of visitors each year, many of them are confused about exactly which country they are visiting. What is the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom? Are England, Scotland and Wales countries or provinces? And what, exactly, is the constitutional status of Northern Ireland these days? Meanwhile, even the British themselves aren’t always so sure of who they are anymore, as the age-old rivalries between the various “home nations” are muddied even further by the arrival of increasing numbers of immigrants. With any luck, the new motto should help clarify the matter for both visitors and locals.

Potential slogans, as suggested by Times readers:

* Once mighty empire, slightly used.

* Our glass is half empty.

* In America we trust.

* At least we’re not French.

* We apologize for the inconvenience.

And the winner of the Times readers’ contest:

* No Motto Please, We’re British.

Now get out there and Brand That Nation!

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

3 Comments for Britain, Brand That Nation!

Sophie 01.29.08 | 10:12 AM ET

Britain: We think men in dresses are hilarious.
Britain: The food is better than it used to be.
Britain: A lot like you but we spell it differently.
Britain: We have a way with reality TV.
Britain: And you thought the U.S. was expensive!
Britain: Masterpiece Theater meets Benny Hill. You figure it out.

John M. Edwards 01.29.08 | 12:25 PM ET

Hi Eva:

How about this for a UK motto:

“Although our glorious Empire crumbled, and we lost America and most of our colonies, the sun never sets on Shakespeare’s Sceptr’d Isle. . . . (We still have Gibraltar and the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat!)”

Kari 07.13.08 | 12:16 AM ET

Great Britain…

“We have the cool accent and you do not”
“Amusing and Dirverting”

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