UK army rebranding blocked
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has intervened to block a rebranding plan for the British Army that would see it ditch its “Be the best” slogan and its crest over concerns they could be seen as elitist.
Williamson intervened after a document – suggesting the slogan and crest of crossed two swords, a crown and lion be scrapped – was leaked to the Mail on Sunday.
Williamson has also been warned of a Conservative revolt if any cuts to military numbers are announced as part of an ongoing security review.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The defence secretary believes that the British Army is the best of the best and has put these proposals on hold.”
The plan was part of a rebranding programme with a £520,000 budget.
Another defence minister, Tobias Ellwood, tweeted “whatever the strapline” the army was “the most professional army in the world”.
“That makes them the best,” Ellwood said.
The newspaper reported that General Sir Nick Carter, the chief of the general staff, led a team that wrote a document for top brass that said: “Market research in May 17 found that ‘Be the best’ did not resonate with many of our key audiences and was considered dated, elitist and non-inclusive.
“The ECAB [executive committee of the army board] therefore agreed that its use should be phased out as soon as affordably possible.
“The retirement of ‘Be the best’ will commence immediately with all planned refreshes of Be the Best branded material cancelled in favour of brand-compliant products.”
The iconic crest was also judged to be “non-inclusive” by advertising executives hired by the ministry, according to the report.
It was to be replaced by a fluttering national flag with the word “army” underneath.
The chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, Julian Lewis, was quoted saying by the newspaper that being the best was “nothing to be ashamed of”.
The parliamentarian said: “It is a matter for pride and a very positive message to transmit. Why should we be afraid of excellence when we are constantly saying our armed forces are the best in the world?”
Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said it was “lunacy to squander money on a futile branding project” when the defence budget was so stretched.
The government last year pledged to spend £178 billion on hardware over the next decade.
However, it can only do so if the armed forces find £7.3 billion of efficiency savings in addition to £7.1 billion previously announced. Options include selling off military property.
British troops in Afghanistan. Picture credit: Flickr