Five brands that epitomise 'modern Britain'

Jaguar named as a brand that represents 'modern Britain'
Jaguar named as a brand that represents 'modern Britain'

Ben Essen, head of planning, iris Worldwide has selected five brands that are succesfully showing what modern Britain is, and to make it clear, he writes, that doesn't mean bull dogs, red phone boxes, and yellow lights twinkling on top of a black taxi.

Throughout history, 'Made In…' has been a shortcut to communicating quality.  But for consumers today – that's no longer enough.  Now we want to understand how origins impact what a brand stands for – the benefits, its ideals.  Now – that's not to say that brands can't utilise their roots to leverage their brand in new markets.  Quite the opposite – there are pioneering brands like IKEA, LIDL and Uniqlo which are using origins to add context to their philosophies, output and innovations – to great success.

Britain itself is enjoying a renaissance in the culture it exports around the world – with assets from Sherlock to Simon Cowell, the Olympics to One Direction helping take ideas about Britain ‘beyond Big Ben’ – equipping global consumers with a more nuanced understanding of modern Britain.   

And there are some great examples of brands using that are leveraging these cues to add provocation and premium to their own stories.  Ahead of talking about them in more detail at Advertising Week this Thursday 26th at 10.30 (YouTube stage if you're interested) - here are my current favourite 4:


The collective ‘evil’ of Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong helped Jaguar to gain a luxury edge in the US with a debut at the Superbowl – which trended globally.


Johnnie Walker

"Hey piper, shut it!", said Robert Carlyle in the midst of Highland country in 2009's 'The man who walked around the world'. The brand's Keep Walking platform captures a universal ideal of progress, rooted in Britain but relevant all around the world. The Trainspotting aesthetic of 2013's From the Future may be accidental.


Dyson recently became the top vacuum cleaner brand in Germany (the home country of Bosch, Miele and Siemens) - through a uniquely British combination of pragmatic simplicy and eccentric experimentalism. 


MINI's inventiveness is deeply connected to its origins in the experimental, creative pioneering of mid-century Britain.  The ‘New Original’ campaign launched the wholly redesigned MINI Hatch last year, leveraging the British tinkering credentials and reinforcing that ‘once an original, always an original’.



Not that you need much more than Kate Moss and Cara Delevigne to epitomise the 'edgy cool' cue of Modern Britishness – but Burberry nails it again and again. A brand that blends modern Britishness with its traditional heritage seamlessly – a brand for every generation (even Romeo Beckham's).  

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