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Monday, April 03, 2006

What is in a brand?

As sure as night follows day the abolition of the WDA, WTB, ELWa and ACCAC took place today and all of their functions were absorbed into the Assembly Government. I have already discussed here and elsewhere the implications of this for scrutiny and transparency and also, in terms of the Welsh Development Agency and the Wales Tourist Board, how we are now to sell Wales to the outside world.

Peter Hain's view on this is markedly different to the First Minister. He told the Western Mail last October that the WDA in particular was too good to lose: "This is a world-wide brand, the most successful development agency there has ever been. The Welsh Assembly Government needs to think long and hard before considering whether to ditch it."

In response to these concerns the First Minister issued a written statement today on how we are going to market Wales to business and tourists in future. Unfortunately, his plans seem as clear as mud:

"The promotion of Wales externally is important and the Assembly Government has also been working on a new Wales brand to promote Wales overseas in a coherent way, to establish a consistent image of Wales which will motivate the world to buy what Wales has to offer; a brand that is as relevant to those promoting Wales as a tourist destination as to those promoting Wales as a business partner or as a place to study. The new Wales brand will be rolled out over the coming months, together with two adaptations for tourism and trade/invest."

What Rhodri seems to be saying is that he wants to promote Wales as er... Wales, but he has not worked out how to do it yet. We will have to wait with baited breath to see what the 'new Wales brand' is exactly and whether it will meet the very high standards of the Secretary of State for Wales.

Update: Apparently the new 'Wales brand' is based on a rehashed dragon. Not very original. Maybe they should have gone for something radically different and adopted a symbol which both encapsulates today's Wales and looks to the future - a Tardis perhaps.
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