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UK's only cool brand?
by Asa Butcher
2007-09-14 09:41:35
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The CoolBrands Council, a group of style experts, designers and commentators from across Britain, in association with a YouGov poll on the opinions of more than 2,000 members of the public, have voted the luxury sports car maker Aston Martin as the UK's coolest brand for the second consecutive year. However, are there really that many cool brands still owned by British companies?

Aston Martin only returned to British status in March this year when a British consortium bought it from Ford for £479 million and it had been the same situation for a number of other respected British car manufacturers. For example, Lotus is currently owned by GM motors, Mini and Land Rover are owned by BMW, Jaguar is owned by Ford. The only other car manufacturer that I can think of that is still regarded as purely British is the McLaren Group.

Unsurprisingly, the top 20 list features seven cool brands based in America, including iPod (#2), YouTube (#3), Google (#5) and Apple (#7), while Italy does extremely well with Ferrari (#11), Ducati (#12), Prada (#16) and Lamborghini (#17). PlayStation (#6) and Nintendo (#9) fly the flag for Japanese industry, while Denmark's Bang and Olufsen and Switzerland's Rolex (#14) are the sole representatives of their respective countries.

If you have been keeping count you will notice that there are still four positions unfilled in the top 20 and it is my pleasure, as a Brit, to inform you that they are British companies. Agent Provocateur (#8), Virgin Atlantic (#10), Tate Modern (#15) and Green & Black's (#18) are the missing four and you may have heard of some of them, especially the first three.

I must begin with #8's Agent Provocateur, a well-known lingerie brand founded in 1994 by Serena Rees and Joesph Corré, the son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Sex Pistols' ex-manager, Malcolm McLaren. I have had little hands-on experience with Agent Provocateur's product line, but after some extensive research on their website I must say that I didn't feel that cool… in fact, I felt quite hot under the collar! It is certainly a shame that Finland is not among the 13 countries that house stores.

It is also a shame that Virgin Atlantic doesn't operate flights between London and Helsinki, a service that I would warmly welcome. My own journeys on Virgin Atlantic have been beyond exemplary making the transatlantic flight a joy rather than a necessity, especially with their ability to seemingly provide a far more personal service than their rival British Airways. Even though Richard Branson's Virgin Group sold 49% of stock to Singapore Airlines, the majority is still British.

The final cool brands, Tate Modern and Green & Black's, are mysteries to be since I have never been to one and never tasted the other's range of confectionary. I have been to Tate St Ives in Cornwall, which was an enjoyable cultural experience, yet for some reason I have never stepped foot inside the Tate Modern galleries housed in the former Bankside Power Station. Save your gasps of horror and shock because I will get there one day… it's just hard to pop by when you live in Helsinki.

According to my research, Green & Black's is a UK-based chocolate manufacturer, now owned by Cadbury-Schweppes, that produces a range of organic and premium-priced chocolate bars, ice cream, biscuits and hot chocolate. Green & Black's was the UK's first company to be awarded the Fairtrade mark for their dedication to ensuring that disadvantaged cocoa producers in the developing world receive a better deal.

After taking another look at the top 20 I am a little depressed knowing that over half are either out of my affordability range or out of my residential range. The ones that I do have access are mainly based online, but at least my iPod gives me a fighting chance at maintaining some cool! My final observation must be that Ovi surely just missed out on the list and is probably hiding at position #21!

List of top 20 brands

1. Aston Martin
2. iPod
3. YouTube
4. Bang and Olufsen
5. Google
6. PlayStation
7. Apple
8. Agent Provocateur
9. Nintendo
10. Virgin Atlantic
11. Ferrari
12. Ducati
13. eBay
14. Rolex
15. Tate Modern
16. Prada
17. Lamborghini
18. Green & Blacks
19. iTunes
20. Amazon

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