Favourite brands: Brands we love, brands we hate

Love or hate them, brands have become an intrinsic part of modern society. Here, a major survey reveals the biggest winners and losers in the popularity stakes. James Curtis reports.

It is commonly said that brand choice is driven by the heart, not the head. So it follows that brands should be compared not only by value, but also by how much consumers like them, as brand choice is ultimately a function of this popularity test.

In a comprehensive snapshot of the changing face of brands in the UK, almost 11,000 consumers selected their best-loved and most-hated brands across a host of sectors. The survey was carried out during July and August 2004 by Joshua Agency, using its ConsumerCheck online research tool.

Matthew Howells, director of Joshua Agency, says the resulting picture of brand preference across 32 categories offers a highly valuable insight into various segments. He adds that the survey 'elicits an emotional response that teases out tactical issues in each sector'. For instance, The Sun is Britain's bestselling paper, but the Daily Mail is the UK's favourite; John Lewis may beat Debenhams on sales per square foot, but the nation holds the latter closest to its heart; and although British Airways is battered by budget airlines, it is the seventh most-loved brand in the UK, while easyJet gets the thumbs-down.

The survey also highlights the changing relationship between consumers and brands. A decade ago, M&S or BA might have topped the most-loved list, but these have been replaced by younger brands such as Google and Nokia. Brand Council chairman Marcel Knobil says the change is 'indicative of the brands with which we commonly interact'.

John Allert, chief operating officer at Interbrand, agrees that there is a common thread linking the most popular brands. 'We have an ongoing relationship with many of them, perhaps through a retail experience, as with Tesco, or sitting at a computer each day, as with Dell. Each has a personal appeal,' he says.

So what about a brand such as Coca-Cola? Does an ongoing relationship explain its popularity? Julia Goldin, marketing director for Coca-Cola Great Britain, says the key to its success lies in 'leadership and innovation, which are at the heart of keeping currency with consumers'.

The best-loved brands are also linked by aspirational appeal. 'It's much easier to like an aspirational brand without actually owning or using the product,' says Allert. 'It's interesting to see that Pantene makes it into the best-loved league, but Head & Shoulders is in the least-loved list. Consumers' response has nothing to do with performance, but all to do with aspiration.'

Low-cost prejudice

This aspirational attitude explains why the list of brands that elicit a negative response is dotted with low-cost names, such as TK Maxx, Lidl, Kwik Save and Time computers. Similarly, Knobil is convinced that McDonald's, Sunny Delight and Pot Noodle's place in the hated list is due to the healthy-eating debate. 'Consumers are surrounded by media telling them how bad these products are. They're not being fooled by the branding, but looking straight through to the product,' he says.

Allert believes Pot Noodle's position reflects its marketing strategy.

'It is deliberately targeting one section of the population to the exclusion of mass appeal.' Helen Park, spokeswoman for Unilever Best Foods UK, which produces Pot Noodle, agrees: 'Its core consumer is 16- to 24-year-old males. So the survey result isn't surprising, given that 65% of those voting against Pot Noodle were female. It has the potential to alienate people outside the target market.'

There are some brands that polarise opinion, which appear in both the loved and hated lists. These are The Sun, Vodafone, Orange and Pizza Hut, all of which have a loyal consumer following, but also arouse vitriolic dislike.

Shopping channel QVC takes its second-most-hated spot on the chin. Sue Watson, director of marketing and affiliate relations for QVC, says: 'One in six households in the UK has shopped with us, which makes us the UK's leading TV shopping channel. So, love us or hate us, to be placed in this survey alongside iconic brands such as Manchester United and McDonald's is not something we're going to complain about.'

Over the following five pages, we take a closer look at the nation's favourite brands by category.

TOP 50 LOVED (%)

Brand Total Gender Place of residence

vote Male Female North Midlands South

1 Google 27.5 55 45 33 22 45

2 Nokia 27.3 42 58 32 22 46

3 Tesco 23.7 41 59 29 22 49

4 Persil 19.5 34 66 28 22 50

5 Coca-Cola 18.6 39 61 30 23 47

6 Asda 17.1 36 64 42 25 33

7 British Airways 17.0 50 50 35 18 47

8 Birds Eye 16.5 36 64 31 24 45

9 Dell 16.1 62 38 30 23 47

10 Debenhams 15.9 32 68 35 24 41

11 BBC One 14.3 50 50 27 24 49

12 IKEA 14.3 34 66 36 25 39

13 M&S (Supermarket) 13.2 37 63 32 16 52

14 Sainsbury's 12.8 45 55 22 23 55

15 Crunchy Nut

Corn Flakes 12.0 36 64 31 24 45

16 Daily Mail 11.9 44 56 32 23 45

17 Nike 11.6 46 54 32 20 48

18 Vodafone 11.3 46 54 31 19 50

19 B&Q 11.3 52 48 31 25 44

20 Ariel 11.3 33 67 31 23 46

21 O2 11.3 47 53 34 22 44

22 Stella Artois 11.2 56 44 31 20 49

23 Orange 11.2 52 48 31 27 42

24 Lucozade 11.1 42 58 28 26 46

25 John Lewis

(Dept. store) 10.6 48 52 27 19 54

26 Next 10.5 16 84 34 22 44

27 Walkers 10.3 41 59 32 30 38

28 ITV 10.3 31 69 41 23 36

29 Galaxy 10.3 34 66 33 22 45

30 M&S (High-street

shop) 10.1 37 63 27 19 54

31 Hewlett-Packard 10.0 50 50 34 23 43

32 The Sun 9.9 48 52 30 23 47

33 Cadbury's Dairy Milk 9.8 37 63 33 23 44

34 Pringles 9.8 34 66 36 22 42

35 Thomas Cook 9.7 50 50 32 21 47

36 Cancer Research UK 9.7 42 58 33 18 49

37 Dyson 9.5 38 62 36 21 43

38 Heinz 9.5 37 63 33 21 46

39 Harvester 9.2 44 56 13 36 51

40 Argos 9.1 45 55 33 27 40

41 Pantene 9.1 18 82 29 21 50

42 TGI Friday's 8.9 37 63 35 20 45

43 Adidas 8.9 50 50 35 23 42

44 Weetabix 8.5 47 53 32 24 44

45 Beefeater 8.5 47 53 40 23 37

46 Pizza Hut 8.5 36 64 37 20 43

47 Virgin 8.3 60 40 21 20 59

48 Channel 4 8.2 30 70 35 21 44

49 Bold 8.1 33 67 33 23 44

50 John Lewis

(Home retailer) 8.0 43 57 28 17 55

TOP 50 HATED (%)

Brand Total Gender Place of residence

vote Male Female North Midlands South

1 Pot Noodle 18.3 35 65 31 22 47

2 QVC 16.5 58 42 29 21 50

3 Sunny D 14.8 42 58 34 20 46

4 McDonald's 14.6 51 49 33 23 44

5 Man Utd 14.5 61 39 37 22 41

6 Novon 13.6 32 68 32 24 44

7 Lidl 13.4 40 60 29 19 52

8 Tiny 13.3 59 41 32 24 44

9 Snack-a-Jacks 13.2 38 62 33 22 45

10 The Sun 13.1 52 48 38 22 40

11 Daily Star 13.1 48 52 29 20 51

12 Fiat 12.6 58 42 35 22 43

13 TK Maxx 11.4 31 69 31 23 46

14 Kwik Save 11.2 39 61 34 27 39

15 Sky Sports 11.0 31 69 32 23 45

16 Wimpy 10.3 39 61 29 25 46

17 Time 10.0 61 39 34 23 43

18 Pifco 10.0 49 51 20 20 60

19 Head & Shoulders 9.1 21 79 28 22 50

20 Irn Bru 9.1 28 72 23 25 52

21 Mothercare 9.0 43 57 31 23 46

22 Allders 9.0 34 66 28 23 49

23 Daz 8.9 31 69 32 20 48

24 MFI 8.8 44 56 35 22 43

25 Alpen 8.8 43 57 32 26 42

26 Pizza Express 8.8 41 59 25 23 52

27 Motorola 8.8 44 56 32 22 46

28 Red Bull 8.7 44 56 37 23 40

29 Loyd Grossman 8.6 47 53 30 25 45

30 Harrods 8.5 46 54 30 20 50

31 Vodafone 8.4 46 54 32 25 43

32 Harry Ramsden 8.4 37 63 37 24 39

33 Ford 8.3 55 45 34 22 44

34 Doritos 8.3 39 61 31 28 41

35 Silk Cut 8.1 54 46 29 15 56

36 easyJet 8.1 44 56 34 21 45

37 Coco Pops 8.0 46 54 30 22 48

38 Cadbury's Creme Egg 8.0 34 66 26 22 52

39 Orange 8.0 44 56 34 23 43

40 Ferrero Rocher 8.0 48 52 35 22 43

41 Aldi 8.0 41 59 35 30 35

42 Airtours 8.0 47 53 40 20 40

43 Saga 7.9 42 58 32 21 47

44 Pizza Hut 7.9 45 55 32 20 48

45 Shredded Wheat 7.8 30 70 36 25 39

46 Dreft 7.8 40 60 36 20 44

47 Ask Jeeves 7.6 55 45 33 23 44

48 Dyson 7.5 40 60 33 23 44

49 DFS 7.3 38 62 33 25 42

50 DH Evans 7.2 29 71 26 19 55


Ford has been the country's bestselling car marque for more than 25 years. But volume doesn't necessarily create affection; Vauxhall may be the UK's second-highest selling manufacturer, but it is only the nation's fifth-favourite car brand.

Ford is undoubtedly close to the nation's heart; models such as its Escort and Transit are cultural icons. That said, the marque is struggling to maintain its lead, with its share of UK sales falling from 17.9% in 1998 to 14.7% in 2003. A lack of brand consistency has been blamed for the decline.

Colin Couchman, senior analyst at automotive consultancy Global Insight, says car brands that are both global and aspirational have the upper hand, which explains why Ford is followed by three prestige marques: Jaguar, Mercedes and BMW. 'They always say the first thing lottery winners buy is a Mercedes, so I'm not surprised to see it so high on the list,' he says. 'I am surprised Jaguar beat Mercedes and BMW, but that is probably because Jaguar is home-grown.'

Couchman finds it strange that Vauxhall has done so well, believing that its marketing has lost its way recently, but adds that the latest Astra could help it recover. Last year, Vauxhall's sales rose by 2.5% and its share of UK sales to 12.7%.

- 17% say that they would not sacrifice car performance for fuel efficiency.


Brand % category


1 Ford 11.5

2 Jaguar 8.8

3 Mercedes 8.6

4 BMW 8.5

5 Vauxhall 7.9

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


Halifax's position as the best-loved bank is a remarkable achievement, considering it only took on its high-street rivals after its merger with Bank of Scotland in 2001. In that time, its share of UK current-account holders has risen from 5% to 17%. It is also the UK's biggest mortgage lender, with a 29% share. That gives it more than 25m customers and a relationship with 40% of UK households.

A consummate 'people brand' Halifax tries hard to be liked, oozing friendliness through its employee-led ads, many of which feature customer adviser-turned-brand icon Howard Sheldon. Halifax head of brand and retail marketing Chris Mawson says: 'It was brave to use our own people in our advertising, but we wanted to engage and entertain in a way that banking brands had never done. Our research shows that Howard now ranks above the Milky Bar Kid and the PG Tips chimps in terms of recognition and popularity.' Yet the all-grinning, all-dancing, bespectacled Howard does not inspire total customer confidence. A Reader's Digest survey of the UK's most-trusted banking brands has been topped by Lloyds TSB for the past three years.

- 29% think financial institutions' willingness to offer credit is fuelling household debt.


Brand % category


1 Halifax 13.3

2 Lloyds TSB 13.2

3 HSBC 13.1

4 Nationwide 9.6

5 Barclays 9.2

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


It is no surprise that Tesco is the UK's favourite supermarket. It continues to power ahead at the expense of its rivals. In the 12 weeks to August 15 2004, Tesco's share of the market was 28.1%, compared with 26.8% for the same period last year, according to TNS. Over the same period, Sainsbury's market share fell from 16.1% to 15.4%, and Morrisons' from 14.6% to 13.9%.

Richard Hyman, chairman of retail analysts Verdict Research, says: 'Tesco is the best retailer in Britain across a range of key criteria. It is a well-run innovative business and difficult to compete against.' Its lead in the category, with 30% of the vote, puts it well clear of Asda in second place, but Hyman says Asda too has excelled at winning customers' affection: 'Tesco and Asda are truly customer-led organisations, and the reality is that Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer are not. To get back into the fast-lane of retail, those companies have to be customer-led - it is an unequivocal imperative.'

Hyman, though, refuses to write off Sainsbury's. 'It clearly has challenges in what is a significantly tougher retail environment, but 12m people still shop there every week, so it must be doing something right.'

- 59% would rather shop in a supermarket than use home delivery.


Brand % category


1 Tesco 30.1

2 Asda 21.7

3 Sainsbury's 16.3

4 Morrisons 9.5

5 Waitrose 6.5

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


Brits love a story of a small players battling big business. That is why the nation has a soft spot for James Dyson, the inventor who took the bag out of vacuum cleaners. The fact that nearly every other vacuum brand now offers a Dyson-style bagless system, as well as many of the funky design attributes that he brought to the rather dull environment of the household appliance sector, is testament to the brand's popularity and influence.

Interbrand director Andy Milligan says: 'There is considerable cachet about the Dyson brand in the UK - people think the products are cool and they admire Dyson himself. Dyson introduced brand image and aesthetics to a previously undifferentiated and functional market.' Milligan believes Bosch also owes its popularity to aesthetic appeal and snob value. 'It says you are savvy, discerning and appreciate German engineering,' he says. 'People associate price with quality in this market, and Bosch benefits from that.' In the case of Hotpoint and Zanussi, Milligan cites 'ubiquity, and, in the case of Zanussi, a high marketing profile', as the drivers of the brands' popularity.

- 16% want to have the latest state-of-the-art gadgets in their homes.


Brand % category


1 Dyson 16.9

2 Hotpoint 11.6

3 Bosch 10.9

4 Zanussi 10.7

5 Panasonic 10.2

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


The UK's biggest football clubs have become brands in their own right. According to a Futurebrand report, 'The Most Valuable Football Brands in Europe', published in May 2004, Manchester United, which is worth £200m, tops this list. Arsenal is ranked seventh (£74m), Liverpool 10th (£56m), Chelsea 11th (£53m) and Newcastle 13th (£34m).

Yet opinion is divided on whether Premiership teams are making the most of their brand potential. John Williamson, board director of Wolff Olins, says a global fan base of 50m for Manchester United does not tally with a turnover of £170m. 'That means it is extracting £3.40 a fan. Would any other brand with 50m customers call that successful?' he asks.

Marco Forato, author of the Futurebrand report, argues: 'Manchester United is extracting more value from its brand than any other club in Europe, but having said that, there is definitely room for the clubs to lever their brands further.' Matthew Glendinning, editor of Football Business International, says it is still early days for clubs trying to harness their brand power.

He describes Chelsea's attempts to emulate Manchester United's global appeal as 'shallow', Liverpool as 'a shrinking brand' and Arsenal as 'too conservative'.

- 21% would not pay to watch their football team's own TV station; 9% would.


Brand % category


1 Manchester United 21.5

2 Liverpool 15.1

3 Arsenal 13.1

4 Chelsea 7.5

5 Newcastle 7.5

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


BBC One has not always been the nation's favourite. Up until 2001 it was ITV1, but soon after the arrival of Greg Dyke at the BBC and a subsequent £90m investment in the channel's programming, the balance shifted.

In 2001, BBC One overtook ITV1 in total viewing. It still leads with a 25.1% all-hour share, compared with 22.6% for ITV1.

BBC One's status is backed by Ofcom research showing that 36% of viewers say they would choose the channel if they could receive only one station, compared with 26% for ITV1. Until 2001, ITV1 was the clear favourite on this basis too. BBC One head of marketing Christine Madden says: 'I put our move to the number-one spot down to us offering more variety, quality and choice.'

ITV Broadcasting chief executive Mick Desmond counters: 'At peaktime, we still easily outstrip our rivals. Tracking polls fluctuate according to which programmes are in the schedule and what viewers are enjoying at the time.'

An equal number of people watch digital channels as ITV1, and Madden concedes that Sky One and Discovery are two of the strongest multi-channel brands.

- 50% want digital TV as it offers them more than five terrestrial TV channels.


Brand % category


1 BBC One 20.9

2 ITV 15.0

3 Channel 4 12.0

4 Sky One 9.0

5 Discovery 8.8

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


The £4bn UK sportswear market is dominated by the big three: Nike, Adidas and Reebok. It is no surprise, therefore, that the same trio emerged as Britain's best-loved sportswear brands. Their popularity extends beyond sport, with just 20% of their products bought in the UK being used for sport or exercise.

Sports brands have had a busy 12 months, with the Rugby World Cup, Euro 2004 and the Olympics taking place, so it is interesting to note that after a string of memorable ads - including David Beckham and Jonny Wilkinson's double-act for Adidas - Nike's 'swoosh' remains top of the pile. 'Where Nike treads, the others follow. It has the best balance between street cool and performance,' says Yusuf Chuku, strategist at agency Naked.

Street culture is hugely important to sportswear brands' popularity, as seen in Reebok's alliances with rap stars Jay-Z and 50 Cent. 'In terms of street cool, Reebok is catching up, but Adidas has always had the most genuine claim,' adds Chuku.

The biggest surprise is the success of surf brand Quiksilver. 'Niche brands often throw up a surprise. A few years ago it was Converse and then skater brands. Now everyone wants to be a surfer,' explains Chuku.

- 15% say sportswear advertising all looks the same.


Brand % category


1 Nike 32.7

2 Adidas 25.2

3 Reebok 15.8

4 Quiksilver 5.7

5 Ellesse 4.4

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


While the Daily Mail takes the top spot as the nation's favourite newspaper, The Sun, which has a circulation of 3.35m compared with the Mail's 2.3m, remains our biggest-seller.

However, it is the Daily Mail that is in the ascendant. Since 1989, weekly sales of its Saturday edition have risen from 1.7m to 3.2m, while weekday numbers have risen by an average of 500,000 a day. The Sun, under editor Rebekah Wade, saw sales dip below 3.3m earlier this year for the first time since 1974, as headlines such as 'Ship Ship Hooray!' (after Harold Shipman's suicide) caused outrage.

The Mirror has also flirted with disaster, most notably by running fake photos of British soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners of war - a decision that cost editor Piers Morgan his job in May.

Des Nichols, director of promotions at the Daily Mail, puts the paper's success down to its consistency and appeal to Middle England values. 'We never try to run ahead of our readers, but simply get in step with their lives,' he says.

Buoyed by its tabloid format and backed by a £4m ad campaign, meanwhile, The Times is enjoying a circulation revival, up 2.8% year on year in July.

- 18% do not want their daily paper available as both tabloid and broadsheet 15% do.


Brand % category


1 Daily Mail 25.0

2 The Sun 20.7

3 The Telegraph 10.8

4 Mirror 9.9

5 The Times 9.8

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


With Asda recently overtaking Marks & Spencer to become the UK's biggest clothes retailer by volume sales, Next has done remarkably well to clinch the top spot in this category.

'Next has been the major beneficiary of M&S's weakness. To put it another way, had Next not been so good, M&S would not be in the negative position in which it finds itself,' says Richard Hyman, chairman of Verdict Research.

It is symptomatic of M&S's troubles that it doesn't even make the fashion top five - but then, neither does Asda.

Hyman is not surprised to see Swedish retailer H&M rated highly and expects the brand to do even better in the future. 'H&M is a much more significant retailer globally than in the UK, so it has significant scope for expansion,' he says. 'The key thing H&M gets right is combining clever pricing with very good quality and being fashionable. It's a very powerful offer.' Although surprised to see Monsoon ranked higher than H&M, Hyman praises the chain for its 'very clear point of view in the market', describing it as 'idiosyncratic and distinctive'.

- 30% say a designer fashion label is no guarantee of better quality or design.


Brand % category


1 Next 22.7

2 Levi's 13.3

3 Monsoon 6.7

4 H&M 6.5

5 Armani 6.0

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


Debenhams' leadership in the category - with 32% of the vote, compared with 21.4% for second-placed John Lewis - substantiates its claim to be 'Britain's favourite department store'.

Over the past two years, the 104-store chain has transformed itself into the home of 'accessible design', with clothing ranges by Jasper Conran and John Rocha. Its funky but friendly positioning is communicated in its 'Styling the nation' ad campaign by WCRS, backed by an £18m media spend.

Debenhams' makeover has coincided with its reversion to private ownership, having been bought by the Baroness Retail consortium for £1.7bn in 2003.

The retailer now plans to expand with mini outlets. The first four are due to open in the autumn, with plans for a further 120.

Verdict Research chairman Richard Hyman did not expect Debenhams to be placed above John Lewis. 'Although it has far fewer stores, John Lewis' sales per square foot are more than twice those of Debenhams. In a business that is driven by sales, the significance of that can't be overstated,' he says.

John Lewis has been bolstering its marketing efforts, making its TV ad debut earlier this year. The company claims 88% of ABC1 adults living within 30 minutes' drive of one of its stores shop there at least once a year.

- 34% like being able to shop under one roof at a department store.


Brand % category


1 Debenhams 32.0

2 John Lewis 21.4

3 Marks & Spencer 20.3

4 House of Fraser 7.7

5 Selfridges 7.1

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


It is fitting that M&S tops this category, as when it comes to stalwarts of the British high street, the retailer is hard to beat. For all its recent troubles, surveys regularly show that the British regard M&S as a national treasure, and would hate to see its name disappear from the high street. With Arcadia boss Philip Green's £9.1bn takeover bid defeated, M&S has put marketing at the centre of its revitalisation strategy and has created the Your M&S brand, backed by a £30m spend.

Conversely, Argos, the UK's second-favourite in the category, is hardly part of the traditional British identity, but is a bastion of the high street nonetheless, beating Boots into third place.

'I can only assume this is because Boots doesn't inspire much passion and excitement. If trust were the criteria, Boots would come top,' says Verdict Research chairman Richard Hyman. He praises Argos' catalogue business model, adding that it has done well to counter the threat of dotcom retailers.

'This says a lot about the failure of internet retailers to deliver, both metaphorically and literally,' he says.

- 36% will not abandon high-street shops for big supermarkets.


Brand % category


1 Marks & Spencer 24.3

2 Argos 16.8

3 Boots 14.0

4 Woolworths 11.6

5 WH Smith 8.6

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


Due to open its biggest European store in North London's Edmonton next year, IKEA continues to prove a huge hit in the UK. With just 12 stores generating £1bn net turnover, and sales growing at a rate of 15% a year, IKEA ranks the UK as its second-biggest market after Germany. The company's external communications manager, Frances Evans, says the turning point in the UK came with the 'Chuck out your chintz' ad campaign in 1996.

'Prior to this our furniture didn't really suit UK tastes, but we couldn't change our range as we have the same products in all our markets,' she says. 'We therefore had to take on the harder task of changing customer behaviour.'

B&Q appears in this category list as the nation's second-favourite home retailer, with a clear lead over Homebase.

Verdict Research chairman Richard Hyman describes B&Q as the 'Tesco of home improvement'. 'It is innovative, consistently delivering on customer expectations and a far superior retailer to Homebase, which still lacks a clear differentiation,' he adds.

However, both brands score high on awareness: B&Q topped Marketing's Adwatch survey of advertising recall in 2003 - its executions fronted by staff members achieved 35 mentions - with Homebase taking fifth spot.

- 17% say poor service is a barrier to visiting out-of-town home stores.


Brand % category


1 IKEA 29.1

2 B&Q 23.1

3 John Lewis 16.3

4 Homebase 8.0

5 Habitat 5.2

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


Dell's position as clear favourite in the personal computer category reflects its impressive command of the UK market, with a 25.7% share, followed by Hewlett-Packard and Compaq's 21%, and IBM with 5.5%. Apple has only a 2% share. The positive feeling that British consumers have for Dell is en-couraging the company to expand beyond PCs.

As well as its burgeoning printer business, the Dell brand can now be found on MP3 players, pocket PCs and LCD televisions.

'We are doing for consumer electronics what we have done for computers: driving standardisation and affordability, which will benefit our customers,' says Laura Kemp, European broadcast and brand strategy manager for Dell EMEA.

According to Brian Gammage, an analyst with research firm Gartner, Dell's consumer appeal stems from its direct business model and efficiency. 'Dell has tremendous scope for expansion and much of that is driven by the fact that it is easy to deal with and reliable. Slowly but surely, Dell is becoming the most efficient distributor of product,' he says.

- 23% struggle to see one brand of PC as any better than another.


Brand % category


1 Dell 31.1

2 Hewlett-Packard 19.3

3 Packard Bell 9.9

4 Compaq 9.4

5 IBM 8.1

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


The UK mobile phone market is intensely competitive, with each of the four major brands - Vodafone, O2, Orange and T-Mobile - holding a share of about 25%. When comparing size, it should be noted that T-Mobile's figures include Virgin Mobile, which uses its network and has about 3.6m customers.

Brand appeal is paramount in the mobile phone sector, and according to Ben Wood, principal analyst with research firm Gartner, Vodafone is best in its class. 'When (former Vodafone chairman) Chris Gent brought a multitude of international mobile brands under the Vodafone umbrella, he showed great vision,' he says. 'He knew branding would become critical, especially as most of the networks now have a similar proposition. Vodafone is now the biggest single mobile phone brand in the world.' Despite its high-profile tie-up with David Beckham, Vodafone is not the biggest advertiser, with a spend of £43m in 2003, compared with £62.5m for Orange.

Interestingly, the lowest spender and fifth-placed brand in the popularity list, Virgin Mobile, recently topped an influential customer satisfaction survey by JD Power & Associates, suggesting that neither marketing muscle nor customer satisfaction are reliable indicators of brand favouritism.

- 24% say mobile phone networks offer differing levels of coverage and service. 10% believe they are the same.


Brand % category


1 Vodafone 25.4

2 O2 25.3

3 Orange 25.1

4 T-Mobile 13.5

5 Virgin 7.2

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


Google's stellar performance in this survey reflects its iconic status. Valued at more than £20bn, Google has enjoyed an incredible rise for a brand built entirely by word of mouth. Ajaz Ahmed, chairman of website consultancy AKQA, says Google demonstrates that 'a great product, combined with word-of-mouth acceptance, continues to be the most powerful way to build a strong brand'.

Yahoo! is beaten into third place by Ask Jeeves. This reflects their ranking by usage levels, with Ask Jeeves and Yahoo! being the third- and fourth-most-visited search sites respectively, according to Nielsen//Net Ratings. By contrast, MSN, although ranked second by use, is clearly failing to win the affection of the British public.

The BBC's ranking above AltaVista is a coup, considering that its search engine only launched in 2002 and is not one of the top 10 most-used services.

Steve Conway, BBC head of marketing for new media, says: 'It reflects the strength of the BBC as a trusted brand on the internet. That we are non-commercial and UK-focused contributes to this success.'

- 22% wonder how they managed to find anything out before the advent of the internet.


Brand % category


1 Google 69.0

2 Ask Jeeves 15.5

3 Yahoo! 10.4

4 bbc.co.uk 2.3

5 Alta Vista 1.2

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


Children, cancer and animals are three of the top conscience-jerkers for charity donations, so it is not surprising that the UK's three favourite charity brands are Cancer Research UK, the NSPCC and RSPCA. Cancer Research is the UK's biggest charity, with a voluntary income of £214m and a £10m marketing budget, dwarfing the total income of most other charities. Strong awareness has been generated by the charity this year through its £3.2m 'All clear' campaign, which achieved a 62% recall among consumers in its first week on TV.

The NSPCC's second place on the list is also linked to high-profile marketing activity. Its long-running 'Full Stop' campaign is regarded as one of the most successful in the sector and has won 26 awards.

Yet 'favourite' charities do not correspond exactly with the level of donations. According to the Charity Aid Foundation, the biggest charities by voluntary income are Cancer Research UK, The National Trust, Oxfam, the British Heart Foundation and the RNLI.

In terms of donations by category, the biggest share by far - 18% - is accounted for by international aid charities including Oxfam and the British Red Cross, which fail to feature in the top five UK favourites.

- 20% say they are deterred from donating to charity by so-called 'charity muggers' stopping them in the street.


Brand % category


1 Cancer Research UK 29.8

2 NSPCC 14.3

3 RSPCA 10.6

4 PDSA 7.7

5 British Heart Fdn. 6.6

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


It appears that no matter how badly British Airways performs, the UK public remains loyal. Its clear lead as Britain's favourite airline, and its seventh place in the overall best-loved brands table, doesn't chime with the reality of its declining fortunes, mainly at the hands of the budget airlines, which - easyJet excepted - fail to make it into this top five.

Martin Rowlatt, director of brand consultancy onesixtyfourth, says easyJet is lucky to have performed so well. 'It is testament to easyJet's strength that it has managed to make it into this list, especially when you compare the years of heritage and investment behind the BA brand,' he says.

EasyGroup corporate communications director James Roth-nie agrees that its inclusion is 'remarkable', but says easyGroup's brand strength has had a positive halo effect on the airline.

Rowlatt claims he is not surprised that Ryanair fails to make the top five. 'Both easyJet and Ryanair spotted a gap in the market, but there is a difference between a good-value proposition and being cheap.'

- 24% say there is a big difference between budget and full-service airlines.


Brand % category


1 British Airways 36.1

2 Virgin 17.7

3 easyJet 9.0

4 Emirates 5.8

5 bmi 4.9

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


This category threw up an unexpected result. When asked for their favourite fast food, 31% of those surveyed said Chinese, 22% Indian and 11% plumped for fish and chips. However, as this survey is about ranking results by brand, we have not included these responses in the top five.

With an adspend sitting at half that of McDonald's £40m, KFC will be delighted it has topped the category, especially after a recent video exposed 'poultry abuse' at a US supplier.

John Williamson, board director of branding agency Wolff Olins, says KFC deserves praise. 'Of all the fast-food brands, it has the liveliest, most non-establishment and natural feel. It is tuned into the cultural mix of the UK and its "soul food" message works well.'

Despite its hefty spend, Williamson says McDonald's fails to inspire affection. 'It stands only for convenience. Its success stems from relentlessly rolling out the same distribution and outlet formula, not because of the experience or brand.'

- 33% say fast food is as unhealthy as it always was - even though McDonald's now serves salads.


Brand % category


1 KFC 9.0

2 Pizza Hut 7.2

3 McDonald's 7.0

4 Burger King 5.2

5 Pizza Express 4.5

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


With slim margins between votes won by the top five holiday companies, it seems consumers find little to inspire them. Perhaps this reflects the struggles of high-street travel agents. With online travel booking up by 159% on 2003 levels, 12% fewer people booking holidays through travel agents than in 2001 and consumers eschewing packages in favour of 'self-assembly' holidays, the travel game is changing.

The big guns have responded by investing heavily in building trust. TUI, the biggest player and owner of Thomson, launched a £3m TV ad campaign using the line 'Time is too precious'. Meanwhile, First Choice underwent a £1m rebrand, ditching the Travel Choice and Air 2000 names in favour of a single First Choice brand.

Phil Barden, group marketing director at First Choice Holidays, says: 'When you look at the top-scoring brands, the results are as expected.

Trust in this sector is linked to familiarity and use - those brands that have been around the longest, and which can be "felt" offline as well as online, score well.'

- 17% say package deals are not the best type of holiday.


Brand % category


1 Thomas Cook 24.1

2 Thomson 19.3

3 Kuoni 15.5

4 First Choice 14.7

5 Airtours 12.9

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


Though Harvester has emerged as the UK's favourite restaurant chain in the survey, TGI Friday's and Beefeater have given it a good run for its money in what are tough times for the big restaurant brands, especially as the market polarises between independent and fast-food chains.

The fast-food market has grown 35% since 1999, compared with 22% for restaurants, according to Mintel. This has seen both US and British restaurant chains suffering, as consumers struggle to determine what 'British' food really is and the American-diner formula tires.

With fewer than half the 350 outlets it had in its 70s heyday, Beefeater's owner, Whitbread, has spent £50m since 1999 trying to revitalise the brand.

Annabelle Wallis, head of media at JJ, the Oxford agency that works on the Beefeater account, says: 'Never underestimate the power of this brand. It has 75%-80% awareness and still benefits from a halo effect of the generation that grew up with it and now have families of their own.'

- 15% like eating in restaurant chains as they know what to expect.


Brand % category


1 Harvester 16.6

2 TGI Friday's 16.1

3 Beefeater 15.4

4 Pizza Hut 15.4

5 Pizza Express 11.8

Source: Joshua ConsumerCheck


The 'Brands We Love and Brands We Hate' survey was carried out by Joshua Agency in conjunction with Marketing. The survey was run using Joshua ConsumerCheck, a proprietorial online research tool.

The survey consisted of lists of top-selling brands, in random order, divided into 32 product categories, from cars, washing powders and mobile phones to football teams, airlines and banks. Respondents were asked to choose their favourite and least favourite brand from the list in each category and to indicate which of these brands they owned or used.

The survey was conducted online, hosted by the idfactor.

Respondents invited to take part in the survey were drawn from the Interactive Prospect Targeting database. Respondents were sent an email inviting them to participate and containing a link to the survey's website. They were not incentivised to respond. The survey was live from 22 July to 12 August 2004, and the total number of usable responses during this period was 10,971. For further information on the report, please contact matthew.howells@joshua-agency.co.uk.