Those who are keeping up with riots news from London, would be shocked to see the way streets and shops in London looked like subsequent to the incident. It is as if you are watching some street gang fights in South America, or some sort of looting scenes in war torn poor African country. It can be viewed as a serious blow to global image of this European culture and business hub. Association of British Insurers estimated that the riots caused more than 200 million British Pounds worth of damage! With this monetary loss, add the non-monetary loss of image of the UK, and London in particular.
Just like a brand can ignore problems until it surfaces as a crisis, London riots can be seen with the same background problem that was not taken care of for years, if not for ages. The starting of riot was in Tottenham area over the protest of fatal shooting of an alleged drug dealer by the police. Apart from this simple statement, that a group of people was protesting police shooting of an alleged drug trader, we need to get deeper into the problem to understand how problem turned into a crisis like this.
The Daily Telegraph, in a report last week, showed the economic segmentation of population around the city of London, and found a shocking but expected picture: riots were concentrated in areas that were inhabited by the poor, suffered lack of education, and in strife with sustained unemployment rate for years. Tottenham has the highest unemployment rate in London and the eighth highest in the United Kingdom. Tottenham is also the most ethnically diverse area in Europe, inhabited by mostly African-Caribbean population, with up to 300 languages being spoken by its residents. Similar incidents of police shooting happened in the past, and this area is known for tension and mistrust between people and police since 1985. So the point is, the riot should not be seen as a single incident, rather as an outcome of years of problem that let itself turn into a crisis.
It has been increasingly considered important for a country to manage itself as a brand in this era of globalization. This branding is important for tourism, investment, and for maintaining a moral high ground when it comes to advocating for its national interest in multifarious global platforms. For this nation branding to happen, a country has to take care of itself just like a marketer takes care of its brand: be consistent, deliver brand promises, and be a good global citizen. The multicultural society that London has been boasting for years, unlike other European cities, has definitely got a deep dent due to this incident. We hope that people and government will work together to repair the damages done to the UK brand. Good Luck!