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Startup Branding Advice for an Independent Scotland

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by Startacus Admin

As the midnight hour approaches and the future of this United Kingdom hangs tentatively in the balance we had planned to offer up an in depth, realistic and unbiased account of how a yes or no vote in the Scottish Independence referendum would affect startups in the country.

But then we thought, “surely everyone has had quite enough of these dry, tiresome political / fiscal postulations by this late stage in the game. Perhaps now what’s called for is a somewhat more jovial approach?”.

Our More Jovial Approach   Scotland if it leaves the Union?

You know that we quite enjoy making comparisons between starting a business and… well pretty much everything else, so it occurred to us (surprise, surprise) that an independent Scotland would be somewhat like a startup. 

One of the most important things that a startup needs to ‘hit the nail on the head’ with is its branding, and should Scotland choose to face the world alone we suggest that some clever new branding could really help ‘sell’ it, in its new form on the global marketplace.

***DISCLAIMER*** Before we begin we would like to say that we are completely neutral on this issue (no really - we aren’t just fence-sitters) and will be genuinely delighted whichever way the referendum goes on Thursday.

Startup Branding Advice to an independent Scotland

Get a Mission Statement - At the core of every startup is a simple mission statement which defines who you are, and guides who you will become. An independent Scotland needs to send out a clear statement to the world, one which illustrates its values as a ‘startup’ and helps to establish it as a new, vibrant country and not merely the UK’s ‘one that got away’.

Entering into the ‘community of nations’ there is a danger that an independent Scotland will be lost in the crowd, but like many smaller countries have proven in the past, you don't always need to be big to make a big impact.

Here, the tried and true method of ‘Identifying a niche’ could:

Build on the things that work - In this instance, Scotland finds itself in a very enviable position. The global news coverage of the upcoming referendum illustrates that even now as part of the UK, Scotland has cultivated an incredibly strong individual brand which, not only appeals to a world-wide market, but is immediately distinguishable for its uniqueness and unmistakable ‘Scottishness’.

Outside of our little corner of the world, the word ‘Scotland’ calls to mind, first and foremost ‘Tartan’ and ‘Whisky’. Of course this is only the tiniest fraction of what Scotland has to offer, but it’s as good a base as any upon which to showcase the true value of the country.

They say that one of the keys to startup success is brand awareness, and no one could deny that Scotland has that in spades.

Think of a great tagline - We needn’t labour too heavily on the importance of creating a good tagline, but in the context of an independent Scotland we reckon a great tagline could form an integral step in helping to establish its individuality in the case of a yes vote.

One of the most incredibly clever taglines we have ever come across is that of the US state of Kentucky which (aside from fried chicken) is best known for its bourbon and horse racing. The little geniuses took this into account and coined the tagline “Kentucky, Unbridled Spirit”... which is so marvellous, it almost beggars belief.
Scottish Branding for 2.014

Whilst we cannot possibly suggest anything nearly as brilliant for hypothetical ‘Brand Scotland’, we had some fun tossing ideas around in the office and one of the best which came up was ‘Scotland 2.014’.

We generally agreed that it sends out a message of ‘newness’, ‘updatedness’ and a country fully embracing the digital age. It would also give Scotland a rather fab domain name

Alex Salmond, if you agree, you know where to find us.

Build a Community Around Your Brand - For any startup this is an essential process in creating a band of loyal followers, and for an independent Scotland it could be an indispensable unification tool. Whatever the outcome of Thursday’s referendum, if recent polls are to be believed, there will be a significant proportion of the public who are not altogether happy with the result. This could potentially create a rather difficult situation if those on both sides of the debate are not brought together under a common goal.
There is no doubt though, that every single person living in Scotland is united in one respect - they all want what is best for their country, and if the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ voters can come together in pursuit of that goal, then Scotland will have created a formidable global brand.

Stay true to your roots - Whilst it is for Scotland to decide whether or not it should exist as an independent entity, there is no escaping the long, often turbulent, often joyous relationship which has existed between these 4 countries of the United Kingdom.

Should Scotland choose to assert its independence on Thursday, it must try always to keep in mind the 300+ years of Union which have preceded it, especially when considering its branding.

Like a startup which suddenly experiences rapid success, there is a danger of being swept away in the excitement and completely losing sight of why you started in the first place.

You should be proud of where you have come from and know that being able to bow to the past is not the same as being bound by it.

Which ever way the referendum goes, Startacus would like to send a big virtual high-five to all our pals in Scotland, for the facinating, intelligent and engaging debate which the upcoming referendum has created.  Best of luck on Thursday!!
Scottish Flag

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Published on: 16th September 2014

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