It was only after the industrial revolution in Victorian Britain when the variety of goods available to consumers increased that the need to differentiate between them emerged. Therefore distinctive names and logos or images on packaging and advertisements started to develop at the end of the 19th century. Many of the successful brand names we know today, such as Arthur Price and Wedgwood can be linked back to the family name of the founding craftsman behind the original design and manufacture.
The most successful British brands are those that have established a set of values and standards that customers have come to recognise and remained loyal to. These values come to be part of the brand’s heritage over time. Heritage combined with innovation and tradition are typical features of the greatest British brands. Function combined with beauty, impeccable (and sometimes audacious) design, the best raw materials and skilled manufacture and craftsmanship. Throw in some understated luxury, attention to detail and service and the result is the iconic British brand.
Attribution: Browzz.uk, CC BY-SA 4.0
In this category we look at the best British consumer brands. In our gallery we have included some brands that are still fledglings in relative terms, only established since the turn of the century such as Dyson and McLaren. At the other end of the spectrum are the brands founded more than a century ago as small family businesses. In the menswear sector there are the quintessentially British Alfred Dunhill and Turnbull & Asser, while in perfumes Floris and Bronnley are iconic British brands recognised for their innovative fragrances. In leather goods is the historic Swaine Adeney Brigg and the more recently established Mulberry, their brands underpinned by design, craftsmanship and quality.
Entrepreneurial businesses Twinings and Fortnum and Mason have legacies reaching back 300 years, first bringing the world’s exotic products, tea and groceries to everyone from Royalty to servicemen abroad and the British public. Their brands still stand for quality and are famous around the world.
Ultimately the appeal of these brands enables them to keep pace with evolving markets and is also testament to the on-going appetite for British heritage products. The awarding of a Royal Warrant is a further credential to some of the most iconic brands in the world and a significant part of their appeal both at home and abroad.
British brands occupy a large niche in the motoring industry Most of these, like Morgan Motor Company have a heritage that goes back to the earliest motoring history. The car industry has been through a period of tumultuous change and some manufacturers have fallen into receivership only to be rescued by new foreign owners. Nevertheless the brands that made them famous in the first place such as Jaguar, Landrover and Aston Martin continue to attract investment as they remain attractive and aspirational to consumers.
Future success of British brands will mean striving to be consumers’ preferred choice. Quality is increasingly being taken for granted so their loyalty will be won by adding value, continuously innovating, being distinctive from the competition and communicating what the brand stands for in a creative and effective way. Brand loyalty will not just be about articulating style and aspiration or alignment with celebrity endorsements, but will also be about manufacturing with integrity with regard to environmental impact, animal welfare and workers' welfare to retain consumers' trust.
'Being a British brand is not about jingoism and the Union Jack, it is the embodiment of a set of common values: heritage, integrity, high ethical standards, invention, humour and an appreciation of other cultures.' – Julia Carrick OBE
Please browse our gallery of selected Great British Brands above for inspiration, and click on each of the images to find more useful information and links to help you find out about each one.