The people of Britain can only watch and hope as new PM Theresa May embarks on its journey to build one nation that "works for every one of us". But in a Britain that some say is now more divided than at any point in living memory, the task seems fraught with challenges.
The old fault lines that divide our nation – income, education, ethnicity, gender and politics – are as pronounced as ever. But, since the referendum, something deeper has surfaced. We appear now to be divided according to our basic value systems; the things that define how we see the world and how we see ourselves, i.e. the very underpinning of our cultural identity.
Insights to unite
This divide may prove to be the hardest to bridge and there is certainly less to draw on from previous Government strategies. So perhaps now is the time to look to other sources of knowledge for inspiration. Examining the behaviours of brands that successfully engage these different audiences might help us understand more about this divide and reveal opportunities to truly build one nation.
Using YouGov Profiles we have explored the relationship between brand consumption and claimed voting behaviour in the referendum. From a statistical perspective, accounting for both the differential and size of customer base, the brands that are most likely to determine whether someone voted Leave or Remain in the referendum are listed below.
Top 10 brands: Leave voters
- HP Sauce
- ITV News
- The Health Lottery
- Birds Eye
- Sky News
- Cathedral City
- PG Tips
Top 10 brands: Remain voters
- BBC iPlayer
- London Underground
- Virgin Trains
The factors that explain these brand choices are complex and demographics such as age and income play a key role. But even accounting for these factors, by comparing brand choices of voters in the same demographic group, we see the same pattern emerge. For example, the brand choices of Leave and Remain voters in the 18-34 age bracket look remarkably similar to the list above with at least three brands on each side in the top 10.
Despite these lists of brands covering very different categories, there is a high level of common image associations within each group. Using the quantitative brand database Brand Asset ValuatorTM we are able to determine the image and personality attributes that are most associated with each set of brands.
Leave Brands more likely to be seen as…
traditional, straightforward, simple, down-to-earth, good value and friendly
Remain Brands more likely to be seen as…
progressive, up-to-date, visionary, innovative, socially responsible, intelligent
So, a government that wants to appeal to both sides of divided Britain might do well to adopt both sets of behaviours together. This is no easy task, but maybe it can learn from brands that already manage to bridge the gulf, appealing equally to Leavers and Remainers.
Catering to both parties
According to YouGov Profiles, examples of brands whose customers are split 50/50 between Leave and Remain include Money Saving Expert, NSPCC, TK Maxx and M&S. They are all examples of brands that champion something of importance to a wide range of people – whether it is "being savvy", protecting those who are vulnerable, or getting good quality at great prices.
All expertly navigate the seemingly paradoxical sets of behaviours set out above. For example: Money Saving Expert is both simple and intelligent in its advice and tone, while TK Maxx is traditional in its offer of designer brands, but innovative in its business model of giving mainstream access.
Examining people’s brand choices on each side of our divided nation can shed light on what might speak to the values close to the heart of each group. So, for a Government to genuinely bridge the cultural divide that runs so deep in our country, it might seek inspiration from the brands that already cross this chasm successfully. If the Government manages to set out a progressive, visionary and intelligent strategy, but deliver it in a simple, straightforward and down to earth manner, then maybe it really could be on the way to building One Nation Britain.