"Plethora of regional trade bodies 'diluting UK brand'" - this is the headline of an article in today's The Independent by the newspaper's political correspondent Ben Russell. This article reviews a report by the Commons Trade and Industry Committee (a group of British Members of Parliament) which concludes that regional development agencies (RDAs) were wasting money, confusing overseas businesses and "diluting the UK 'brand'" by setting up a string of outposts around the world. The committee
"called on the Government to overhaul the "bizarre" network of 42 overseas offices set up by RDAs to promote their regions to foreign business leaders.Frankly the IPKat thinks this criticism is rubbish. Sceptical about the concept of national branding in the first place, he does not believe that such a thing as "Brand UK" exists except in the minds of the people who believe it does. He very much doubts that many non-British prospective consumers of goods or services would perceive that it exists either - or that they would make a decision to purchase on the basis of this perceived British origin. Nowadays many people can't tell the difference between the UK and England, which can't be much comfort for the Scots and Welsh - and the UK-ness of the United Kingdom is not greatly visible even domestically, where devolutionary reforms continue.
... figures showed that eight regions had offices in the United States, seven had an outpost in Australia, and seven had staff based in Japan.
... efforts by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to promote investment overseas might be damaged by the clamour of different regions all competing for business.
John Cridland, deputy director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said: "The competing activities of the RDAs and devolved administrations in overseas markets create real confusion and dilute the UK brand."
Merpel wonders, What's the problem with eight regions having offices in the US, a market consisting of 50 separate states with their own culture, ethos and preferences? She adds, Brand UK does exist, but not where the MPs think it does: look here and here.
Buy British, courtesy of Syd Partridge here