Queen Elizabeth II, who died last week aged 96, was not just a monarch, she was a global brand. And over the past seven decades, this brand has, to some extent, defined and promoted the British nation around the world.
Trademarks are important corporate (or in this case national) assets that can raise a company’s profile and significantly differentiate it from other businesses. And while royal court officials and family members may not portray it as such, examining the British monarchy through a branded lens can add significant perspective on why it endured and remains. meaningful and important to so many people.
The British monarchy consists of various branding components: the institution (the crown), the Commonwealth realms (including Australia and Canada, among others), the royal family and its individual members. Queen Elizabeth has arguably brought all of these strands together into one global package that resembles a corporate brand in many ways.
First, the symbols of the monarchy: the crown, the royal monogram (or the monogram of the reigning king, which for Queen Elizabeth II was “EIIR” for Elizabeth II Regina) and the Royal Coat of Arms are powerful brand symbols akin to trademarks. In fact, the monarchy even lends the prestige of its brand to endorse other corporate brands by granting royal warrants of appointment.
Currently, some 800 entities – from fishmongers to well-known products such as Heinz ketchup – are entitled to mark their products with the Royal Coat of Arms and “by appointment to Her Majesty The Queen” (now Her Majesty the King, of course), implying that a product is suitable for a monarch. Other organizations are granted the use of the royal prefix such as the Royal Opera House in London. To obtain permission to use ‘Royal’ in a name, organizations should contact the Cabinet Office in England and Northern Ireland, or the Government in Wales and Scotland.
The royal mark is also associated with considerable financial worth, with some estimates putting the capital value of the British monarchy as a business at nearly $78 billion.
Of course, the UK has one of the last great monarchies in the world and this, together with its antiquity, is attracting considerable global interest. The geographical reach of the British monarchy is also significant.
The position of king or queen as head of state of 15 Commonwealth realms covers 100 million people. They also lead the Commonwealth, which grew from seven to 54 countries with a population of 2.5 billion during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, as many countries of the former British Empire gained independence.
Notably, one in three people between the ages of 15 and 29 currently live in Commonwealth countries. With King Charles now becoming the symbolic head of the Commonwealth, awareness of the British monarchy should continue among these populations.
Moreover, over the past seven decades, Queen Elizabeth has arguably been one of the most well-known personalities in the world. female icons. His image has adorned coins, banknotes, stamps and portraits around the world. But above all, it is the inimitable values of the Queen’s brand that have also helped to maintain this international interest.
At its core, a brand connotes a set of expectations, often referred to as a brand promise. Such a promise must be genuine, consistent and valued by consumers and other stakeholders. Traditionally, monarchs have made promises in declarations of accession and coronation oaths.
A speech given in South Africa in 1947 by then-Princess Elizabeth emphasized “a life of service”, and this became the key tenor of her reign. In one passage she says, “I declare before you all that my whole life, long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great Imperial family to which we all belong.
Queen Elizabeth II understood the marketing concept that “the customer is king”. She seemed to understand that as the head of a constitutional monarchy, it was more appropriate to speak of “a people with a queen” rather than “a queen with a people”.
Moreover, while the legal ownership of the monarchy resides in the monarchy, its emotional ownership is vested in the people. Tellingly, in her jubilee letter written earlier this year, the Queen ended with the words ‘Your servant, Elizabeth R’.
All of this has allowed the British monarchy, whose roots go back more than a thousand years, to become an excellent example of a corporate heritage brand. This is a brand whose core characteristics have endured, spanning generations.
To maintain this type of brand success, a modern constitutional monarch must meet five criteria.
The monarch must be: royal (have special status, as defined by the state), royal (behave in a manner befitting a monarch, including the use of royal ceremonies), relevant (be meaningful to the country), respected (having the approval of the people) and responsive (adapting to change).
Queen Elizabeth II fulfilled all five criteria and that is why she is a perfect example of a constitutional monarch. We are unlikely to see his type again. But some additional principles can guide King Charles III in maintaining the mark of the British monarchy.
The royal brand mix dictates that he must be aware of the dangers of inappropriate individual royal behavior, play an appropriate role in public issues – for example, not showing his political preferences in an election or taking a position strong audience on a divisive issue – and recognize generational shifting values.
Charles should also be dedicated to the people by celebrating their accomplishments and empathizing with them in times of adversity, while shedding light on the plight of the sick, dispossessed, vulnerable and marginalized. Finally, the new king must preserve the dignity, traditions and symbolism of the monarchy and ensure that they retain their meaning.
With the death of Queen Elizabeth, the United Kingdom not only lost an unparalleled constitutional monarch, but also one of the country’s greatest brand assets. The new king has important shoes to fill but, in Queen Elizabeth, he also had a skilled guide.
John MT Balmer is Professor of Business Marketing at Brunel University London. This article is republished from The conversation under Creative Commons license.