Brand Wales

Jamie Hibbard explores the positive impact of the Euros for ‘Brand Wales’

You couldn’t go anywhere in Wales during the Euro 2016 championships without being palpably aware of the hopes and dreams being placed squarely on the Welsh football team.

As soon as work finished for many people in the evening, you could sense the tension building as everyone scrabbled to get home in time for the game.

Never has Wales been more coloured by its famous raw emotion, and never more has the national colour of red run through the mountains, valleys, cities, towns, homes, bars, pubs, the Fanzone at the Principality, the Parc Olympique Lyonnais – and across the pitch itself – like blood in the nation’s veins.

Whatever your thoughts about what actually happened on the pitch, you can’t deny that the exposure which the team’s ‘underdog-done-good’ success story has brought to Wales as a whole can only be a good thing.

The world’s attention was on Wales – brand Wales’ stock has never been higher.

And rightly so. There have been plenty of positives to shout about Wales, and that positivity has now been given a brilliant platform from which to expose it.

It’s possible – probable, likely – that people in Europe and the wider world may never have really paid much attention to Wales before, and so with this new-found interest in Britain’s most passionate nation, what should it do next?

Gareth Bale was understandably always going to be the brightest shining star for Wales, and being so well media trained he is likely to continue to be a vocal exponent of the Welsh brand.

Visit Wales is well aware of the positives that have come from the Euro 2016 exposure too.

Arguably the biggest challenge in boosting Welsh tourism is making Wales more visible to people who are unaware of it, after all you can’t go on holiday somewhere if you don’t know it exists. If Google is anything to go by, our nation has never been more visible in and outside of Europe.

The online interest in Wales has already led to a big surge in visitors to the Visit Wales website according to Economy Secretary Ken Skates, and now the goal is to “make sure we convert that interest into actual visits.” [1]

Cue our biggest brand ambassadors, the loyal Welsh fans that travelled with the team during the Euros. If anyone has ‘sold’ Wales at this year’s championships it has been them. With guards of honour [2] and touching moments of togetherness [3], our fans have endeared themselves to the rest of Europe [4].

If our stunning national parks, rugged coastlines, beautiful beaches, impressive castles, and cultural hotspots aren’t impressive enough, the behaviour of our fans has shown that visitors will also be treated to a warm and friendly reception upon arrival.  

Another brilliant side effect of our Euro 2016 success is the positive emotional connection to sport will be felt by children– in the same way as the rugby highs have been doing for so long – which can only be a good thing. Getting young people interested in sport inevitably leads to more playing sport, creating a healthier, happier nation. That upside will keep on having benefits for years to come.

Now the momentum is with Wales, we all need to needs to keep upbeat and find ways to promote the Welsh feel-good factor  to the rest of the world. Social media is such a strong tool in the hands of everyone, and continuing to extol the best of Wales(?) en masse will be hard to ignore. #TogetherStronger, after all.

So, ignore the grumblings of some corners that ‘we shouldn’t celebrate failure’, the Welsh football team showed great heart throughout the entire championship, and rightly deserve the adulation they are being given, for the benefit of Wales as a whole.

Image credit: Jeremy Segrott

Jamie Hibbard is Head of Content at Stills Branding

9 thoughts on “Brand Wales

  1. Well done Wales. But it’s a shame that some people will always talk Wales down. Depressingly some of the people who love to talk Wales down are Welsh, the founders of the Abolish Wales Party have been vocal in bemoaning Wales football “failure”. Humbug from dinosaurs, so what if David Bevan and his ilk are again talking Wales and our performance in the Euros down. The Welsh team and Welsh fans didn’t let their country down and did us proud.

  2. ‘Brand Wales’, including the footie team did exceptionally well during the Euros and perhaps some good may come out of it. Having said this, the Welsh ‘Renesance’ flourished worldwide during the WDA era and unlikely to be repeated. The Welsh Labour Government under its Welsh speaking leaders has no idea what a sense of purpose means and is there for the few. Orwellian and inward looking – Time for Change!

  3. If you want a sporting event that really shows off a country well and sells it as a brand look no further than Le Tour de France! Both the on-road and the aerial photography show off a country which looks a lot better kept than the UK these days and the commentators keep giving us the low-down on some spectacular scenery and buildings. Great sport with a bit of education and culture all rolled into one. Also a good excuse to talk to myself in French as we ‘English monoglots’ sometimes do. Apparently there are about 150 million French speakers we can talk to which almost makes learning another language worthwhile. That’s something that hasn’t quite registered with Brand Cymru yet…

    Didn’t watch the football but it was quite difficult to avoid!

  4. Ah yes, the great Welsh renaissance under the WDA, when Wales had more people employed by the public sector than the Soviet Union, when unemployment in Wales was the highest in the UK, and amongst the highest in the EU, when wages in Wales were the lowest in the UK, when Welsh education standards dropped to such a level English universities demanded Welsh students must have at least 1 more A level and higher grades to get into an English university, shady land deals done in smoke filled rooms and cronyism abounded. The good old days of the WDA, twice the cost of the WAG and unelected and unaccountable to anyone in Wales but at least the WDA kept us Wales the bottom of the pile right

  5. Interesting comment Philip (4) but disagree on the education standards decline (This is strictly down to the post devo period and the essential Welsh Medium Education)! Commonwealth games (2020) offer another opportunity to promote the Welsh Brand but Carwyn Jones says NO!!

  6. The problem with the whole concept of a “Brand Cymru” is perfectly tied up with how the Welsh football is viewed in Wales. “Brand Cymru” will always be looked upon with suspicion and hamstrung by many on the right and in positions of power, who despise and fear anything that would try and place Wales as a wholeheartedly free spirited, confident county capable of dealing with its affairs; without constantly looking over its shoulder to London for approval. If we don’t believe in ourselves why should anyone outside this country.

    With regards to the Wales football team, many on the right and British nationalists looked on the Welsh football’s success as something rather unfortunate (see some of the comments above) with any enthusiasm appearing to be begrudging at best. Anything that places Wales as an independent country (as the Euros certainly did), with England looked upon in the same way as Slovakia and Russia, can only be uncomfortable and frightening to some in this country, who would rather not see a Wales at all, let alone a “Brand Cymru”. Indeed the World Cup and Euros are generally times when Wales’ football team fans have to put up with the biannual nonsense of being told that they are “racist”, “small-minded”, “anti-English”, etc if they do not support our boys – Team England. It was noticeable that some Welsh Tories (David Davies and Stephen Crabb – though fair play not Alun Cairns) seemed to find it impossible to mention the Welsh football team without adding a British context, for example, that the team had made Britain proud. For many of these support for the Welsh football team was only voiced when the team’s success made it impossible to ignore. While others in the media appeared to be desperately anxious for British Royal family approval of the team’s success.

    Following on from Philip’s comment above, I read comments from followers of the right wing Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party on Twitter which favoured abolishing the Welsh football team. But as British nationalists that is no surprise.

  7. We’ve a big brand advantage over pretty much all other countries with our unique and iconic national flag. Very much not the tricolor. But it’s only in an event like the football European cup that it gets an opportunity to fly and get noticed globally. The Union Jack is basically seen aboard as England’s flag so for many people seeing Y Ddraig Goch at the Euros was the first time they knew of the existence of Cymru.

  8. The comments about Brand Wales and soccer reflect the Google metrics – a flash in the pan. This correlates with coverage of the recent championships in my neck of North America. Iceland received the profile and the marketing advantage for breaks in Iceland. Icelandair followed up very quickly with promotional ads. The performance of the team from Wales an afterthought in the press.

    Any follow up for autumn breaks in Wales to hike the coastal path? Nada!

  9. @Ken Richards
    Iceland’s job is to put Iceland’s interests first.
    The UK’s job is to put Wales’s interests first only when they correspond with England’s interests.

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