Olympian branding

A Financial Times column reflects on the revival of the British brand during the recently concluded games wondering why so many storied and long established British companies have over time divested and even spurned any references to their British identity.  The Union Jack was ubiquitous as fans, both British and foreign, as well as players sported the colors with pride.

The FT column notes that for some "it was part of a mixed identity: the boy with a South African flag draped down his front and a Union Jack on his back" but for "most it was simpler as in a"a mixed-race girl, draped from neck to ankle in British colours".  And yet British companies have spent years and several millions divesting themselves of their Britishness going so far as to actively blank out any insignia or references to their country of origin.

It is a campaign that saw British Airways drop the UK flag from its tail fins thinking it was indicative of a "national airline" as opposed to its non-governmental ownership over the last couple of decades and one that saw "British Petroleum, British Telecommunications, British Aerospace changing their names, to BP, BT and BAE Systems. It is another matter that the abbrieviation to BP did nothing for British Petroleum or Britain in the aftermath of the infamous oil spill when leading politicians in the US went so far as to likening the incident to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Yet it is not clear why companies in diverse businesses continue to shun the USP that their brand represents to consumers. The latest in that vein is furniture giant IKEA which has just launched what it terms "design budget hotels" but will not bear the storied IKEA name. The decision appears even more mystifying considering the new hotels are initially slated for countries where IKEA has an established presence. They will also not be run by the Swedish company "but by an established hotel operator". Considering that the privately, if not secretly held, company's moniker is estimated to be worth over €9bn (US$11bn) it seems like an opportunity wasted.



Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.