Parliamentary officials announced on Tuesday that the London Clock Tower, which houses Big Ben, will be re-named the Elizabeth Tower later this year. Big Ben, although not its official name, but the nickname given to the 13-ton bell housed within the tower of Westminster, has been a British landmark for hundreds of years. However, following a British campaign, which had the backing of all three major political parties, has pushed forward a rebrand for Clock Tower in the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne.
So how do the people of London feel about the re-brand? According to a poll last month, the public wasn’t so taken by the new name, with 44 percent of those surveyed opposing the name change and only 30 percent accepting it. Several people have taken to Twitter to rant about the decision to rename such an iconic part of the London skyscraper by referring to Clock Tower as Big Betty and Large Liz.
The outrage may not just come from Londoners’ resistance to change, but also from their political feelings toward the monarchy. But not all rebrands have been met with such resistance. ValueJet’s rebranding to AirTran after the 1996 crash in the Florida Everglades wasn’t just a name change it was an attitude change. Rebranding can be a good exercise because it forces introspection and self-assessment of values and assumptions.
But as we all know, a brand isn’t just a name. A brand is a way of doing things. A brand stands for something. When you hear someone talk about Big Ben a visual image instantly pops into your head and that in itself proves the value of its brand. I know the rebrand is a symbolic gesture to honor Queen Elizabeth’s legacy, but could there have been better options that may have been more suitable for the Queen. A charity? A hospital? A University? A museum?
A strong brand goes hand-in-hand with solid communication. And, in my view, communication comes down to this: crafting a message, leading an audience to take action or change an attitude. What’s the likelihood that Londoners and tourists alike will actually refer to the Clock as Elizabeth Tower? That’s a legitimate question.
Oh and by the way, if I were Queen Elizabeth, I am not so sure how I would feel about anything weighing 13-tons being named after me …