In 2004, the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office and British Council created a campaign to welcome eight Central Europe nations into the EU. The goal of this Crossroads for Ideas initiative was to demonstrate that Britain was a vibrant hub of creativity, eager to attract investment and talent from citizens in new member states. But since the research showed that the target audiences were often confused about the different meanings of ‘Great Britain’ and ‘UK’, the campaign had to avoid using these terms. A visual solution would have to carry the central message of the campaign.


The Union Jack might seem like it was an obvious answer, but the choice of this device and its subsequent treatment were not straightforward. I was originally attracted to the symbol because everybody understands that the flag represents the UK, plus its lines meet at a ‘crossroads’ in the centre of the design, reinforcing the campaign’s copy. But the flag’s traditional colours couldn’t work, as the campaign was about innovation and modernity, and it needed to avoid appearing overly nationalistic. I would have to reinterpret the emblem and create a framework for pairing it with a range of messages.


In April 2004, Tony Blair launched the Crossroads for Ideas initiative to great acclaim. In the following years, the brightly coloured design went on to become a central communication device at numerous cultural events, cementing the UK’s reputation as ‘Cool Britannia’.

Agency / HGV