Getting your brand right is one of the most difficult but potentially valuable parts of running a business. 

In this post I’m going to take a look at some of the most powerful brands in the UK to see what makes them so effective and memorable. 

If you want to learn more about how to create an impactful brand that tells your company’s story in the right way, get your ticket for our Festival of Marketing in November and come check out the Brand and Creative stage. 

Compare the Market/Meerkat

Nobody can dispute the success of the Compare the Market’s Compare the Meerkat campaign, not just in differentiating itself in a crowded market but also in creating a memorable brand that people genuinely warm to. No easy feat when you’re essentially selling insurance.

Compare the Market had managed to establish itself as a fun and humorous brand while making the meerkat almost a national icon.

Compare the meerkat

With its own microsite and a whole range of now well-known character, the meerkats have become a brand in their own right. But there is always going to be that association with the original Compare the Market brand.

The fact that there are different characters means the brand can tell a story that keeps people interested over time. It also means there are plenty of merchandising opportunities, such as the free meerkat toy when you get a quote.

Compare the meerkat

If you look at how some of its competitors’ marketing techniques have evolved since the launch of Compare the Meerkat, you’ll see they’ve tried to achieve the same (‘So Moneysupermarket’, the Go Compare opera guy, etc).

The fact that Compare the Market’s competitors have followed the same route is testament to how successful the meerkat brand campaign has been.

Here’s the first ever Meerkat advert, aired in January 2009.

The Meerkat brand has recently partnered with the UK cinema industry to create Meerkat Movies following the end of the ever-popular Orange Wednesdays offer.

This move is only likely to solidify the Meerkat brand even more as a household name.


Innocent perfectly illustrates how branding is not simple about creating a brilliant name and logo and hoping people will ‘get’ what you’re all about.

The Innocent logo and name do actually tell you quite a lot about the type of brand it is, but it’s everything else it does that hammers the point home (in a really friendly and non-violent way, obviously).

Take the ‘Big Knit’ campaign, for example: Innocent asked people to knit a tiny hat to go on one of its smoothie bottles, with 25p on each one sold going towards Age UK to help keep old people warm in winter.

This tells you exactly what kind of brand Innocent is: caring, considerate and ultimately good. Not only that but when you see those little bottles wearing those tiny hats, you can’t help thinking “How could they possibly have anything bad inside them?”

The success of the Innocent brand is all down to the detail and the copy on its website is an example of this, from its ‘Fruit Towers’ address to referring to the ‘bananaphone’ under the ‘contact us’ section.

Innocent drinks website copy

All of these finer details constantly remind you that Innocent is a fun brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Innocent’s Twitter feed is another example of its playful personality and use of humour. This is one of my personal favourites:

This one is also brilliant:


It’s difficult to write a post about powerful brands without mentioning Apple, the company that has managed to persuade millions of people to pay much more money for products that are not necessarily any more effective than less expensive rivals.

How does Apple achieve this? It’s simple: the Apple brand plays to the emotions. It feels like you’re getting a better product, and that is completely and utterly intentional.

People love simplicity. Apple was the first technology brand to not only recognise this but build its entire ethos around the fact.

Apple’s product design is sleek and stripped back and this extends to everything it does, from its online story to its advertising.

Apple online store

Apple also provides a not-so-gentle reminder of the power a brilliant brand can have. Forbes rated it the world’s most valuable brand last year, and the business posted profits of $8.5bn ($42.1bn turnover) in the fourth quarter of 2014 alone.

Red Bull

The Red Bull brand is completely synonymous with extreme, high-energy sports, which is handy given that its whole selling point is the provision of artificial energy to those who drink it.

How does Red Bull achieve this? Firstly the logo is two bulls about to cave each other’s skulls in. Pretty extreme by anyone’s standards.

Red Bull logo

But Red Bull really achieved this by associating itself with all kinds of extreme sports events, from air racing to cliff diving and everything in between.

If you still weren’t convinced, Red Bull had a bloke parachute back to Earth from space to clear up any confusion over just how damn extreme its brand is. Yeah!

Conclusion: have a defined ‘personality’ and stick to it

All the above brands have a very defined personality and have specific emotions associated with them.

They then take that personality and feed it into everything they do, from advertising to website content and also the products themselves.

The key here is not to confuse people. Decide what your brand is going to represent, keep your message simple and then make sure everything your business does serves to reinforce that message.

You can learn loads more about creating a powerful brand at our Festival of Marketing event in November. Book your ticket now and come check out the Brand and Creative stage.