Scottish independence: Will brands be left with Scotch egg on their faces?

Andrew Mulholland
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Scotch Eggs: Will the referendum leave brand managers with egg on their faces? (Source: Getty)

As someone who was born in Scotland, and occasionally wears the Duncan kilt with pride (in the correct fashion if you had to know), I have more than a passing interest in the forthcoming vote. Mostly I feel it’s a little unfair that that the ‘Yes’ camp seems to be having all the fun, leaving the ‘No’ camp stuck on the currency issue and endless laundry bills to remove egg stains.

As if to highlight this imbalance, the very nature of voting ‘Yes’ feels instinctively more positive than ‘No’, and while I’d like to believe voters think a little more deeply than this, sadly I’m not so convinced.

Overlay the Braveheart factor, which is a very real consideration that shouldn’t be ignored. At my parent’s recent Golden Wedding anniversary - a union which both sides could learn something from - we were treated to a full piped-band that for one small moment, had me reaching for the egg carton myself.

So what does this all mean for brands? Irrespective of my personal views (yes, sitting on this fence in a kilt is becoming painful), whichever way the vote is cast, from a branding perspective at least, the future is going to be interesting.

Let’s start with Brand Scotland. Looking at the Visit Scotland numbers for 2013, it would appear that the key international tourist market is from….the English, with 5.6 million trips - more than double the combined numbers for all international markets combined, and generating a whopping £1,637 million in Great British pounds (not Euros).

This should worry some people, since the recent Future of England Survey shows that the vote is hardening attitudes towards Scotland, with only 10 per cent of people believing devolution will improve relations.

As any brand knows, you need to be careful when upsetting your core target audience.

Now look to the application of Brand Scotland to industry.

A devolved Scotland ought to give the brand managers at institutions like Scottish Widows and Scottish Power food for thought at the very least.

And following recent remarks from the Royal Household, the Royal Bank of Scotland should not automatically assume it’s name will remain intact. I’d personally love the challenge to create The First Bank of Scotland, but it does lack a certain regal ring.

Since branding should inform all aspects of a business, I believe that even the once-reassuring Scottish voice-overs, carefully selected by advertisers for their calming ways, may well sadly become a thing of the past.

The fact is, whichever way the vote is cast, the Scottish brand landscape will be changing whether brand managers like it or not.

I only hope it changes for the better and they’re not left with egg on their face.

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