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The Made in Britain logo – will it make a difference?

UK flag

If you’re confused about which brands are still UK-made, you’re not alone. A campaign for a new logo identifying British brands was met with popular support after half of us admitted we were unsure which brands are British.

And it’s hardly surprising. A company will invest fortunes in a brand because the image – not the factory – is worth the money when that company is sold.

So while ownership might change hands and nationality a hundred times, what was once a British brand can carry on looking like one. HP’s HQs may now be with Heinz in America, but its sauce still carries a picture of the Houses of Parliament.

Rolls Royce, the Mini and even Thames Water have been sold to German companies; Manchester United is American; Jaguar is now Indian; Harry Ramsden is Swedish; Hamley’s Icelandic and even the Body Shop was sold – to the French.

Does being British-made matter?

But if products are still made in the same way – and look the same, taste the same and smell the same as a result – does it matter? Would a mere change in ownership mean you’d stop buying a product you love? Or would knowing it wasn’t British-made (though maybe still pretending to be) somehow seem fraudulent or change your feelings?

The questions become more complicated for modern appliances and products assembled from hundreds of parts from various countries. It’d be hard to feel patriotic allegiance if a product has ‘Made in the UK’ slapped on as the last part in a continent-hopping assembly line.

Made in Britain logoThe Made in Britain logo was launched by British company Stoves with the backing of UK manufacturers and MPs. To qualify, companies must say ‘the majority’ of their production or manufacturing takes place in the UK – though this isn’t policed by Stoves, with companies certifying their own eligibility.

So far over 100 manufacturers have applied for the logo, including Samuel Heath (Bathrooms), Roman Showers, The Pure H2O company, Ultima Furniture, Chalon (Kitchens), Big Bale Transtacker, Taylor Bins, Anglia Kitchens and Bathrooms LTD, Perrin and Rowe (Taps), Bartuf (Retail display manufacturers) and Primisil Silicones LTD.

Do you want to buy British?

According to Stoves’ research, over a third of British consumers say they’d buy British more often if it were easier to identify British products. It’s a noble sentiment, but would it change when we see the price tag carried by products from profitable, 100% British manufacturers?

Some foods and drinks already carry Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) labels that let consumers know that foods like Jersey Royals and Cornish Clotted Cream are made according to tradition and in the designated area. Yet the UK only has 16 registered PDOs, compared with France’s 82 and Italy’s 143.

If we care so much about provenance and protecting British industry, why don’t we fly the flag for more of our products? And why not take it a step further by voting with our feet to help defend shops and local producers from the global brands that undercut them? The question is, will the Made in Britain logo help us do this?

Would a Made in Britain logo help you buy British?

Yes it would (84%, 907 Votes)

No it wouldn't (9%, 92 Votes)

I don't care about buying British (7%, 78 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,077

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Demosthien says:
29 July 2011

Australia has been doing this for years, “Australian Made” and “Australian Grown”, and the results seem to be good for the country (more money spent in your own country obviously helps keep the economy running). There is a very large BUT which must be attached to schemes like this, there has to be a rigid set of guidelines and strict regulation of the brand’s usage. Otherwise, as others have stated, the scheme becomes a SCAM.

Check out the following link and then tell me if this “Made in Britain” will be enforced with as much fervour or will it just be one more meaningless coloured label on the same foreign produced products you have always purchased.

Paul says:
30 July 2011

I agree with you. There are too many half measures in so called ‘Britain’

Paul says:
30 July 2011

I think it would make a difference to those companies that sign up to the scheme but it would not guarantee the increase in jobs for British people.
Currently there are so many companies that are using cheap European labour in our own shores that this would nullify the real meaning and cause for British made ethics.

MarconiMIke says:
30 July 2011

I support a resurgence of British manufacturing, but remember that one reason for the decline of British industry was the appalling management from directors downwards which led to lax quality on the shop floor. Our poor QA led the world! It was the Japanese who improved quality in all products and showed the way for all the rest. The last (high tech) British company that I worked for finally got the message and produced a product better than any other competitor, but the company was taken over by an inferior American company shortly afterwards and all our knowledge has disappeared into America.

Dorset Gee says:
30 July 2011

Great idea. I would need to have faith in an effective monitoring system.

Phil Errington says:
31 July 2011

Made in Britain, is different from grown in Britain and assembled in Britain.
How far down the chain does a product have to be to be British.
Made from components sourced worldwide and worked on, made from only materials mined here, just assembeled from parts bought from around the world?
Does it matter who owns the company, most PLCs are owned by global investors or pension companies (paying ex-pats who left Britain for sunnier climes).
All pretty complicated.
I agree with knowing that products like HP Sauce with a picture of the Palace of Westminter should be spotted as NOT being able to have a made in Britain badge (made in Spain or Nederlands nowdays). But even for a product like that its ingredients have come from all over the world most of its existence.

Anything that helps us cut down on imports is great, but it needs to not affect the export market. So I think the mark should be voluntary.

I think the brand needs to be carefully controlled, easily understood and then people will start adopting it. From environmental and economic reasons I hope this can be done.

We have an enforced labelling system on our food with country of origin that has managed to stop “the foreign meat processed in Britain scam so why cant the “Made in Britain” stamp also work. Provided British workers were the main people involved, ie as in cars assembled here even though the parts were of foreign origin. At least its helping jobs here. If people get the message all processing might be bought back to these shores, now that would make a Great Britain.
Barbour make waxed jackets here in South Shields the rest of the range are made in China. At least they do produce some thing here. Belstaff would like you to think they are British they market British Tradition, but now they are Italian and foreign made. There is an “English” clothing brand all Chinese made! We dont want people believing it was made here, we want them to know it is British produced and not a British stamp of a company wanting you to thing it was made here.
“The best of British design and manufacture offers the technology to do so. remains true to the tradition” But Made in China! That’s the typical remarks many British name brands would have you see, often they are just a trading name of a foreign company, nothing British but the name! Time to change lets put the Great back in Britain.

the scottish play says:
1 August 2011

As a problem this is not as simple as it first seems. Firstly we need to differentiate between ‘Grown in Britain’ and ‘Made in Britain’ as mentioned above by others. As the article above mentions, when it comes to food people can register for PDO’s, but this maybe doesn’t cover ‘Grown in Britain’. Maybe PDO’s should have variations or levels? A higher standard where the actual product is protected as being unique to an area and then a second level where it is simply branded as british?

Made in Britain is a good idea in principle but the global economy is so large these days that no company can afford to compete on a national, let alone global scale by sourcing everything it makes from one country. We have to accept that whatever we buy will have components or parts that are not built/made in Britian.
What if a foreign company buys a British brand and changes nothing but the headquarters? What really frustrates me is when british companies are bought out by a foreign company and relocate the business. This means loss of jobs and a fundamental change in the product that we the suppliers are buying. However it is likely that the new owners will not change the marketing strategy, they will probably still market a product based on it’s british heritage.
It feels a little like false advertising but where to you draw the line? The head owner? Where the bulk of the manufacturing is done? Where the last piece of the product is fitted?

Personally I always try and buy British whenever possible. I am happy to pay a little extra for good quality British products. However at the moment the waters are so muddied on what constitutes ‘Made in Britain’ and no body seems to be looking out for the consumer.

Maybe Which? could work out what they believe is a fair yardstick for products to be british? Also possibly they could further investigate existing symbols and try and promote one of them so that consumers get a clearer picture?

While British farmers and supermarkets continue to blatantly support the illegal hunting of wild animals on their lands I will only buy from the supermarkets that don’t and certainly not local produce from farms where such “accidental” murder is commonplace and the Police turn a blind eye (no I’m not a vegetarian animal rights activist either before accusations fly). If you want safe foods then Co-op, Waitrose and M and S are the most ethical. I admittedly do go to Lidls but try to avoid British produce there as am unaware of their status.

Paul says:
7 August 2011

hey Big Jen,

What the hell has your comment got to do with the subject.

you’ve lost the plot for sure.

My thoughts exactly. Was this supposed to go in the murder section?
Where does illegal hunting go on, Tesco car parks?

JohnH says:
27 October 2011

I would welcome a mark system, and it would definitely affect my purchasing decisions – that does not mean i would buy shoddy or overpriced goods just before they are British. But the present scheme will surely have limited application, since the vast majority of goods are not of single country origin. My two suggestions are: 1. that a percentage mark be added to the logo, thus increasing the number of goods that could be marked, and 2. that the “percentage British” should be certified by the company’s Auditors annually. This should not cost too much, since the Auditors will already have detailed knowledge of the company’s operations, and should greatly reduce fraud – Auditors belong to a professional body, which can discipline them or strike them off if they sign up to incorrect statements.

With the recent EU problems with the PIGS Portugal Italy Greece Spain, where their outgoings exceed their income and no amount of bailout will help their financial situation long term. Is it not about time we had a Buy British campaign, because every time “we” buy foreign goods it pushes us closer so the same financial situation that the PIGS are in. Every manufacturer that goes to India or China does not help our economy. Every product that purports to be British and comes from abroad is worsening our situation. I dont want us producing shoddy goods, I want real British quality and there is no reason why we cant persuade manufactures to give us a logical route to help us back on our feet. I see that Doc Martens are producing back in Britain again and also offering Lifetime guaranteed, for some of their products. If they can do it so can the rest.

I normally look to see where a product is made, and buy British, or at least EU, where possible. Sometimes it is impossible: try finding a high-street umbrella that is made anywhere except Asia.. There is only 1 make of cordless phone not made in Asia, and that is Siemens – Germany has preserved its manufacturing industry, and is now one of the most financially sound countries in Europe.

Could the Which? tests and surveys please indicate where the products are made. Or at least, where they are assembled – as JohnJ commented: “..import from China, pack in Northampton and re-badge.”

James says:
16 December 2011

I’m interested to know if “made in britain” makes a (big) difference when selling premium/luxury goods (like Church’s shoes or Mulberry coats etc) into the Chinese market? I can well imagine “made in Italy” still resonates for fashion articles? Perhaps “made in France” for luxury food/wines? But, does it cut the mustard… for Britain’s luxury products?

If the answer is that “made in XYZ” only really matters in Britain then we’re in trouble. Exports are the key to getting us out of this current mess. We better think of something smarter to re-find that competitive edge (and, please, no re-vamping of “cool Britannia”).

Iain thompson says:
11 January 2014

We sometimes have enquiries from overseas and part of the product specification is that it must be manufactured in Britain / UK. I can sign a declaration saying this but even better is for the product to have the logo on it.

Julian says:
20 July 2012

From conception to a finished product on a shelf there are various steps which could be misused to give a MADE IN BRITAIN label.
Materials sourced
Parts tooled
Parts assembled

More steps potentially exist like loading software etc. Any one of these could be skewed to appear that it was made in Britain even if it was only packaged or assembled here. Using cost of each part to calcuate overal British-ness will be open to financial trickery.

Its not easy, and any solution other than using a green amber red system like the food labelling scheme for each of the aspects of a product would be a nightmare to police. People are getting used to the food labelling scheme so why not adopt something similar? Therefore if something is all green then every aspect is from the UK. But mostly green then some bits (maybe parts) might be of foreign origin.

VoteWithBrain says:
1 August 2012

Can I just mention there are three points I would like to mention on this subject.

Place of Design/HQ; Place of Manufacture; Financial owner.

All three relate to economics really.

I think it is vital for people to understand that buying British (if they are British) is vital not only to Britain (which is in their interest) but also it will benefit them personally.

When a company is based in the UK (and they don’t instigate tax avoidance schemes) then this is positive for the economy as they contribute without using much resources. They are British.

When a company manufactures in the UK (such as Land Rover Jaguar) it is also of prime benefit to the British people… with jobs and supplies, and a knock on effect in the economy. This applies whether the owner is British or otherwise. Therefore essentially, Land Rover Jaguar may be Indian owned, but it is a British made product. Designed and built using British workers which get paid here and spend their money here. They are British in their essence.

Thirdly companies that own those types of companies above contribute to the economy in similar ways and take part in the economy. Some of the profit goes to the parent but often, they reinvest in the existing country of manufacture – such as the case for Land Rover Jaguar or GM-Vauxhall where they have increased investment.

If you buy a mini – people claim you’re buying a BMW. You’re not – you’re buying a British car owned by a company which continually reinvest in the British economy. At this point it may be worth mentioning that if you have bought a 1 series or 3 series BMW in the last 10 years then there is a very high chance that your engine was made in Britain in the Hams Hall BMW factory… which continues to be expanded.

Therefore it is economically sensible (for their own standard of living in their own country) for British people to buy British but it is important that British people buy products that they know support the UK economy. If we open up to this wider view we can still enjoy a diverse range of products which contribute to the UK economy in a variety of ways.

James says:
6 October 2012

A well designed logo would benefit products and services, as would a campaign behind it. Mind you, this logo is absolutely hideous. It completely contradicts the qualities that it is supposed to represent.

If the key visual signifier of quality British products is of a poor design quality, what does that say to the consumer?

I completely agree with ‘VoteWithBritain’. However you seem to have left out one important point. How are foreign companies able to buy up original British companies INVEST large sums of money in them to get them going again but British industrialists and entrepreneurs will not even try. If we believe our history books it was the then GREAT BRITAIN that led the world into the Industrial Revolution, with people not ‘blinded’ by ‘bottom line’ economics that took the risks with their own capital, many made a lot of money of which they re-invested into that exciting industrial age. Now we have UK business people sitting on the sidelines waiting to jump on any ‘band-wagon’ that looks like making good returns while other people, Europea n and others put the work, money and vision in.

Monday Blues says:
24 March 2013

I see that someone has started an e-petition for an accredited made in Britain logo on the government’s website http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/46536

Iain thompson says:
11 January 2014

The latest logos using part of the union flag are terrible. Two of them have the red arrow pointing down (is that the direction we want to promote British trade?) and they are all so DULL. The best is the original tick and that is the one my companies will be using.
British manufacturers need concise branding and the three latest ones are not good.

I’m not sure which logo you are referring to, Iain, but I had assumed the ‘Made in Britain’ logo on this page was intended to depict flying. I suppose it’s a bit like working out whether your glass is half-empty or half-full.

Best of luck to everyone involved with the campaign, but you need to help police it to make sure that unscrupulous companies use it as a marketing exercise for foreign goods packaged in Britain.

Maybe buying British is a good idea, if the raw materials are British. I have made leather bags for 46 years and now nothing on the bags is British made. Surely manufacturers have a duty as well.Oh and yes I buy British when I can