No one following the movements of David Cameron and George Osborne in recent weeks could deny that they are making good on their promise to put a focus on international markets at the heart of their long-term economic plan. The message, loud and clear, is that the UK is open for business.
Critical to the success of that headline message is the ability to sell the story of the UK as an open, outward-looking country that has the skills and expertise to embrace the future. For this, the UK needs not just advocates but examples, businesses and organisations that epitomise what UK plc is about. But which of our home-grown brands, industries and institutions best carries our global story? As they are sold, marketed and projected around the world, which British icons do most to promote the values we would like to put on display? Populus determined to find out.
We interviewed 4000 people in eight markets around the world ranging from established economies (the United States) through rising powerhouses (India and China) to emerging nations (Nigeria and Indonesia) and asked them to score 15 British icons (from British universities and British film to Rolls Royce, British Airways and the Premier League) against a range of measures from being admired and trusted to being successful and globally recognised. We then analysed the results, some 60,000 data points in total, to find the “X factor” – that hidden attribute which came closest to combining all of the positive qualities we had tested. How much of this “X factor” each icon has is what determines its place in our British Icon Index league table.
The good news for the UK is that many of its most cherished institutions and famous brands travel well: every icon in the top ten achieved a score of at least 70.0 out of 100, and no icon achieved a score of less than 55.0. Certain icons – British universities and brands with global marketing budgets like Rolls Royce and Jaguar Land Rover – perform especially well across the markets surveyed. However, top of the table is the Premier League with a score of 81.0, making it consistently the best performer of the 15 brands, industries and institutions: