I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I watched the opening ceremony last night. But I liked what I saw.
From James Bond to the Queen, from punk to Dizzee Rascal, from the Industrial Revolution to the NHS, Danny Boyle took us on a whistle stop tour of highlights from British history and culture. It was as bonkers as it was brilliant. It was like a day-glo Wikipedia entry accompanied by a banging soundtrack, served with a chaser of triple strength espresso. Somehow, it worked. I can’t think of another event where Simon Rattle could appear alongside Lord Voldermort and Mr Bean. The press and social media reactions have been largely positive and there was an interesting article by Charlotte Higgins in The Guardian on what the ceremony tells us about British cultural identity.
It’s all got me thinking about identity, brand and how we define ourselves. There have been many charity rebrands over the last few years (including my own at Lasa). So many rebrands- across all sectors- seem to involve the construction of a slick identity, one without quirks or flaws. And of course, we all want to show only our best side to the world. But is perfect believable? No wonder people are sometimes cynical about branding.
Boyle’s vision for the opening ceremony was ambitious and took risks. It seemed to say, “This is what Britain is. We may not be perfect, but here are some things that we’re proud of.” Isn’t that what a good brand should do: allow our true character to shine through? Should we allow our organisational brands more room to be themselves, quirks and all? The opening ceremony might have had some flaws but these were negated by its energy and enthusiasm. Vigour, confidence and personality are great ways to engage stakeholders. Could we have forgotten about these in favour of crafting carefully balanced brand values?