hate and love on knuckles illustration

Let’s talk about brand, baby.

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The word can strike fear in many, those who don’t like asking themselves questions and those who think it is just a logo.

Brand is more, far more. It’s experience, reputation, feeling, behaviour and communication to name a few.

One of my favourite exercises with clients during my brand workshop is to ask these simple questions.

“What brands do you love? What brands do you hate? and why?”

hate and love on knuckles illustration

The why is the kicker, I’ve seen a few directors crumble at the why and look like I’ve asked them to choose their favourite child.

If you’re pondering your brand, I suggest you ask yourself these questions too. Here’s my answers for inspiration.

Brand I love = John Lewis.

The minute I walk in to the shop I feel like a better person, someone that has goals in life, got their $hit together and likes quality. I feel safe, homely and warm, like I’m being hugged by a middle class blanket.

The products they stock are of high quality, trusted, good brands, aspirational and somewhat affordable.

Their customer service is fantastic, I have experienced this and I was treated like a queen when I had to return something that ended up being troublesome.

They treat staff well, the staff are lovely, I like their café, toilets and price promise, I like them.


My Grampa had many a Volvo car, like him, I have always thought they are reliable, safe and sturdy. Their lights are constantly on. Whenever I stepped in the car it was time for adventure and feeling loved.

The Volvo took me to exciting places, the beach, on holidays, for ice cream and I loved it. Even when a car drove in to the back of us once, we were all safe, my whole family.

This is more nostalgia than anything else, I have never owned a Volvo, I just resonate with their brand on a personal level. My Grampa’s trust in them has made me also trust them. Endorsement from someone you trust and admire is often the highest form of accolade a brand can get.

Brand I hate = Primark

I used to shop here and am ashamed. Fast, affordable, throw away fashion at the price of who or what?

Mass produced, inferior quality clothing and accessories that mean your bargain is someone else’s terrible wage, working condition and lifeline in equal measures. Don’t believe me, look at what happened in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.

Yuck, I can’t even… cheap does not mean good. This is mainly about reputation and being conscious of choice and how it impacts others.


The rent a car company without a soul. Last year we took a trip to Italy and were meant to drive from Milan to Lake Como.

On picking up the car, the credit card we used to make the booking was declined and according to them, that was that. I wasn’t able to use mine because my name wasn’t on the booking.

Their customer service was appalling, the front desk staff uncaring, unkind and their phone staff even more so. Luckily, we took public transport and a sympathetic lift from our Air BnB host. We complained, asked for money back and told everyone we know not to use them.

Think about your customers/audience/user needs and experiences – their recommendations are powerful.

Need help with your brand? I’d be happy to work with you on strategy, direction or whatever you need.

Awesome illustration by The Meekshall

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