Your BRAND is so much more than your logo, the colours you choose, or the fonts you use. Brand is not simply a marketing concept, or purely about your communications, it is very much a management issue. Your brand should be driven by your business strategy, your products and services, your culture, your people, and be powerful enough to claim your space in the marketplace.

Your brand should be confident enough to deliver your whole reputation through your active voice, your language, the stories you tell, along with the images and film that complement your message and help communicate it to the World.

So what does your brand say about you?

I can inject passion, enthusiasm and excitement into your thinking, find solutions and help you meet your challenges head on.

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...I can only describe what I got back as first class in every respect. I suppose the ultimate acid test of any service provider is 'Would I buy again?'  I have; Sally is one of my Go-To people for advice!

Keith Jones
Angel Investor

Amazon by name, Amazon by nature – how to survive a predator

Coincidentally, my first article of 2015 told how the 'big four’ supermarkets were caught out by the rise of the German giants, Lidl and Aldi. Since then these forces have managed to control 10pc of the grocery market, collectively increasing their share by 1.4pc* with Aldi continuing its process of rapid UK expansion. The company plans to open a further 80 UK stores this year bringing the total to 700.

However, 2016’s supermarket predator is quite literally Amazonian with the ubiquitous online retailer having made its first move in November by introducing Amazon Pantry. This offering is exclusively for its Prime members, enabling them to purchase their big brand household supplies online and take advantage of their one-day delivery service. Amazon UK currently holds around 4,000 items in stock, but plans to expand the range during 2016. Amazon Fresh, currently available in Seattle, California and New York, is reported to be rolling out internationally, which I suspect includes London.

Traffic jams

Amazon’s latest move is to allow customers pay for goods on its website in instalments using Amazon Pay Monthly, stepping up its attack on the UK high street even further and tempting us to buy more, at cheaper prices and speedy delivery.

And the downside for humanity?

Ever-increasing haulage and delivery vehicles on our already crowded roads. Plus with Amazon staff reportedly working on zero hour contracts, it will be very difficult for other brands to compete unless they follow suit. We should take care what we sow!

But when competition is rife it seems online is king!

Our home-grown, much loved brand John Lewis, for example, did well over the six weeks of the festive season. However, this month’s figures showed that department store sales fell 1.2 percent, but that its overall online sales increased 21.4 percent, representing a huge 40 percent of total sales.

But this article is not simply about the concept of ‘who’s behind you’, more about the huge shift in UK consumer shopping habits, and how clever companies are tapping into a growing online market and spotting other opportunities to ensure their business survives.

Take the tobacco industry…

Who’d have thought there would be a way to replace profits from the evil cigarette with what effectively is a pipe substitute. How many people do you know that have actually used e-cigarettes to successfully stop smoking? Friends and colleagues of mine, who initially purchased a device to kick the killer weed, have simply replaced one habit with another.

Ironically, Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik who invented the e-cigarette to quit smoking after his father died from smoking-related cancer, is now a dual user. I suspect the rise popularity is exactly what manufacturers were anticipating and now cleverly marketing – as did the drinks industry – and introducing more and more hooks to lure people in with their myriad assortment of flavours. As well as instant availability online, most towns have at least one ‘e-cig’ shop...

...so effectively an acceptable reinvention of the traditional tobacconist.

Children smoking e cigarettes

The tobacco industry must be rubbing its hands with glee to have found such a lucrative replacement revenue source, at least until the research comes up with any consequences. Ash’s concerns are that:

“e-cigarettes are aggressively marketed to children with flavours like bubble gum and cotton candy”. 

And the main consequence for all? Loss in tax revenue; hopefully the Government is investigating ways to replace the billions of pounds smoking raises in direct tax revenue for the public purse - £12.3 billion in 2013, already reduced to a predicted £9 billion this year. Could it be that Jamie Oliver's proposal to introduce a sugar tax suddenly sounds like a good idea?

And the prolific rise of Cask Ales

In 2002, Gordon Brown introduced Progressive Beer Duty, which gave tax breaks to brewers below a certain size and the number of small brewers in the UK began to emerge into today’s brewing powerhouse.

Southwark Brewing Company

According to the British Beer and Pub Association, there are more than 1,420 small breweries in the UK – the highest number since the 1930s and 40s. One of the more recent to be added to the list is the Southwark Brewing Company, whose owner spent months creating a meaningful brand with each carefully crafted beer linked to a piece of local history going back 500 years; he's now enjoying (along with his speedily growing following) the fruits of his labour.

So who is losing out on all this creativity?

The big brewers, which is why they are busy buying up the more popular micro-brands such as Sharps, famous for Doom Bar, but now owned by the US giant Molson Coors, and the latest takeover, Camden Town Brewery, sold in December to the world's biggest drinks company, Budweiser firm AB InBev with disappointed fans left asking why? The answer is simple; the deal was reputed to be worth a cool £85 million.

And so once again it appears that history is repeating itself. The story is not disimilar to Tadcaster’s John Smith acquiring the Backhouse & Hartley brewery in 1852, leading eventually – after a string of acquisitions – to the whole operation being purchased by Heineken in 2008.

And from no-where to out-there in the hotel industry


Currently disrupting the hotel market is Airbnb, a company that enables homeowners to easily rent out rooms to travellers. Once a start-up selling cereal, Airbnb is now the third most valuable ($25.5 billion) venture capital-backed company in the world, with the website expected to have around 80 million nights booked this year, doubling the figure of 40 million quoted in 2014. It currently has 1.5 million listings in more than 34,000 cities in 190 countries, with Paris seemingly having more listings than any other.

This spells times of uncertainly for those hoteliers who rely heavily on renting out rooms during events and peak seasons to stay in business. Personal service will have to get a great deal more personal if it is to be sustainable and survive until the inevitable regulators move in.

Other snippets

BBC iPlayer and cable disrupter Netflix, came third and fourth respectively in YouGov’s mid-year Buzz ranking (a measure of the positive and negative things said about a brand). It’s definitely time for those responsible for the BBC to sort out the Royal Charter and introduce a membership rather than a licence fee. I dread to think how much revenue it must be losing by not monitising iPlayer, which is currently free to those who do not pay a TV licence!

Dolce Gabbana Reveals First Hijab

And was it pure coincidence that in October 2015, an H&M model was ~on a Mission to Wear Her Hijab in Style~ and by January Dolce & Gabbana reveals its first Hijab and Abaya collection.

Opportunity is always knocking; we just need to ensure we’re listening.



Images courtesy of

Southwark Brewing Company

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