May I have a word about… the evils of rebranding

·2-min read

Step change? Robust governance? Defra should abandon the jargon and stick to protecting the countryside

I’m a staunch believer in the dictum “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Yet the passion for rebranding still burns bright. Only last year, Standard Life Aberdeen decided to restyle itself as Abrdn, to make itself “modern” and “dynamic” and quite rightly was laughed out of court. (I might have joined in on pouring ordure on this particular misstep.) And what are we to make of Facebook retitling itself Meta? Precious little, I would argue, as people will insist on still calling it Facebook, which I hope irks the shifty Mark Zuckerberg no end.

Not to be left out of the game now is Defra, which in its infinite wisdom has decided that the term “area of outstanding natural beauty” is outmoded, to be replaced by “national landscape”. The government dresses it up thus: “Any name change must represent a step change for AONB teams with the ambitious new title encompassing new purposes delivered by skilled teams, sustainable funding and robust governance.” And there you have it writ large - “step change”, “robust governance”. Absolute twaddle and the meddlesome work of brand managers and graphic designers almost certainly hired at outrageous cost to deliver... well, what exactly? Sweet sod all. It sounds like something from the Soviet Union. Leave well alone, Defra, and get on with things that actually matter in the countryside.

On that theme, I was amused to get a flyer from estate agent Knight Frank, “winner of six customer experience awards in 2021” (no, I haven’t a clue either): “As your local agents, we know every inch of the Wimbledon property market. For further insight or for property related advice, do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.” As I live in Hampshire, I think I’ll pass up this generous offer.

• Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist

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