Five months after the seismic vote setting Britain on a new path outside of the EU, countless questions remain about the potential impact of Brexit. The repercussions for its economy, political future, and freedom of movement, trade, employment and education sectors are still unknown, and won’t be answered for some time.
One question which commentators have skirted around is how Brexit will affect Britain’s international brand in the eyes of the world. Will consumers and marketers give it the thumbs up or down?
Professor Ben Voyer, a Visiting Fellow in LSE’s Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science, is researching the global reaction to Britain’s brand in the wake of Brexit.
He says: “From a continental European perspective, consumers may be bound to judge Britain in a more negative light and view its brand as weaker and less stable. The worst-case scenario for Britain would be a consumer boycott of some of the sectors it is renowned for, including finance, education and the creative industries.”
“But on the flip side, non-EU countries such as Canada, the US and Australia might actually view Britain in a more positive light outside of the EU. Brexit gives Britain the opportunity to reinvent its brand and position itself in a new light which makes it more visible to consumers outside of Europe.”
Britain as a brand has traditionally been seen as innovative, forward looking and creative, Dr Voyer says, and the Government will need to negotiate the EU exit very carefully to avoid damaging its brand in the eyes of consumers around the world.
“The difficult political decisions which remain to be made can have serious consequences for brand Britain. For instance, the Government will have to find ways to make the country more attractive to investors after Brexit – perhaps even make Britain a tax haven. These tradeoffs to ensure economic stability could backfire in terms of its brand.”
Professor Voyer said the effect of Brexit on Britain’s brand could go beyond consumer perceptions, and eventually affect the appeal of Britain to international talent.
“At the same time, it clearly has a new card to play with in relation to the rest of the world, so the country needs to manage a difficult equilibrium in the months and years ahead to reinvent its brand.”