Branding royalty: the brand value of the British monarchy
It has been a significant few days for Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth and Queen of Britain, among other nations. On Monday, an event held by the London office of international finance and marketing firm Brand Finance revealed the total value of the British monarchy in 2017 as £67.5bn. This reveal coincided with celebrations for the platinum wedding anniversary of the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip. And now, following the resignation of 93-year old Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, Queen Elizabeth II has become the oldest head of state in the world.
Given the influence the monarchy still exerts over external perceptions of Britain, it’s unsurprising that its most recent brand valuation, as calculated by Brand Finance, remains in the billions. Intangible value, regarded as the present value of the benefits the monarchy will bring to the UK economy, and tangible value, calculated through the worth of monarchical assets such as the crown estate and royal collection, including the crown jewels, are estimated at £42bn and £25.5bn respectively.
In 2017 alone, Brand Finance estimates that the monarch remains one of Britain’s strongest brands for generating income, as well as promoting interest in the British lifestyle more generally. “In 2017, the monarchy generated an estimated gross uplift of £1.766 billion to the UK economy,” details the Brand Finance report. “This contribution includes the crown estate’s surplus of just under £329 million as well as the monarchy’s indirect effect on various industries, such as tourism, trade, media and arts.”
Regarding the monarchical influence on British goods, Brand Finance estimates that royal warrants were responsible for a £193.3m elevation to UK brands in 2017. Defined by the Royal Warrant Holders Association as ‘a mark of recognition of those who have supplied goods or services to the households of HM the Queen, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh or HRH the Prince of Wales for at least five years, and who have an ongoing trading arrangement,’ over 800 brands currently hold the recognition.
With research conducted by Professor Qing Wang of the University of Warwick suggesting 70% of consumers would choose a royal warrant-branded product over a regular alternative, the real-time effect of buyer choice on the monarchy’s brand value is clear. Campaigns with a monarchical focus generate huge amounts of traffic; brands such as those worn by Kate Middleton, are renowned for selling out. Tourism, too, remains a key driver of the royal brand. Bringing an additional £550m into the tourism sector, merchandise sales and visits to places associated with the royal family boost regional economies and create a connection with the monarchy outside of its usual London-centric focus.
David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, says, “Exactly 25 years ago, the Windsor Castle fire marked the nadir of the Queen’s ‘annus horribilis’ when scandals drove the monarchy’s popularity down. Today, its universal appeal translates to the attraction of Brand Monarchy offering considerable commercial benefits to all businesses and institutions associated with it.”
And, for Haigh, the implicit suggestion of royalty in the British place brand has only positive repercussions across all diplomatic endeavours, including trade. “The Monarchy is Britain’s national treasure, both symbolically and economically,” says Haigh. “Especially in the age of Brexit, Britain can rely on royal diplomacy to facilitate trade relations with the Commonwealth and the rest of the world.”
With the event coinciding with, and celebrating, the release of Brand Finance’s coat of arms, it seems association with royalty is still as much revered as it was centuries ago. As Ben Marson, director of the Princes’ Trust charity explains, the high standards expected through royal patronage continue to attract charitable donations – or, where Britain is concerned, visitors and investment. Regardless of opinion, it seems unquestionable that value of the British monarchy to ‘Brand Britain’ remains as important as ever.