Tag Archives: wilko’s

Great customer service … with honour!

I posted the other day about Manchester United and their proposition and positioning.

It reminded me of a stunning, and quite original, positioning that I came across almost by accident.

Those of you who know me will know certain things about me;

  • I love concrete and all things modernist and brutalist in architecture
  • I firmly believe that Roadhouse is the finest film ever made (with lessons for life in every scene)
  • I only really listen to Jazz
  • One of my favourite brands is Wilkinson’s
  • One of my favourite logotypes is Norfolk Line – lovely combination of type colour and design
  • … and I drive up and down the A14 most weekends to get home

All of which you are likely to know .. but the last 3 in that list have a connection … lorries, and in particular advertising on lorries.

I posted about this some time ago, I may be becoming a lorry geek!

By now reader, you are wondering what on earth this post is going to be about … well lorries… and a proposition …and a surprise;

Allow me please to introduce Knights of Old .. in fact the Knights of Old Group.

If you drive around the Midlands in the UK you will know their haulage. It states boldly on every lorry “SERVICE WITH HONOUR” I really like that, its bold, it’s certainly original and I don’t know much about haulage and logistics, but I bet it’s a USP !


Check out the values on their website … here

This is a roll call of ambition, style, and growth. Mission statements may be a little old hat these days, much derided thanks to too much pomp and ceremony from Management Consultancies in the 90s (just my opinion you understand), but in this instance it absolutely backs up the vision and it must by its nature and presence unite a workforce that is by its nature dispersed geographically.

The typeface is also crucial in lending credence to such a nice line and vision. Can you use an old-fashioned word like ‘honour’ with a modern san serif typeface? I don’t believe you can, at least not for this brand.

And the surprise?  Well it is their website, a quite lovely piece of story telling across the piece. The rolling banner points you at three different stories and, my, how well they present them, especially the photography.

Can you make logistics sexy? You bet you can, especially with as clever a use of brand association as I have seen for a very long time, John Lewis, Carluccio’s anyone? … lovely!

Check it out here

But maybe I should not be so surprised at the quality of their advertising and marketing … look how they promote the cycling team they sponsor – very nice!


One final point to make as well. Added to my list at the top of this post you could have added I love brand heritage stories .. some brands lend themselves to it … Co-operative please note … why do you not embrace yours? … and this is one such brand. The history is well presented, not over done and it contextualises the whole vision. Very nice indeed

Read it for yourself here, its worth a few moments of your time I believe.

The story telling explains the origin of the company name and the use of the “Knight” and “Old”. The company was founded in the village of Old (near Kettering) by William Knight. It’s interesting to ponder how different their brand proposition might have been expressed if the two names had not worked quite so well together.

I hope you have enjoyed this slightly offbeat post, I find it really refreshing that a brand in such a non glamorous industry can make such a bold creative play but I guess you would expect that from a brand with such confidence to paint its proposition on every Lorry!

You will also be pleased to know you can buy toy lorries ‘a la’ Eddie Stobart too … I may seek one out, one on my desk would remind me that delivery of great service is important whatever industry you are in … and if you can do it with honour, even better.



01 May 2014

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Stop Press: Late arriving Marketing Valentine or Part 2 of my top 10

Well its time for the second half of my Marketing related top 10 – the late Valentine card, the one stuck in the post that genuinely does have a postmark from the 13th. 

The first five flowed easily, but I have had to whittle down my list to create this second half of my mix tape and I’m wishing I was using a C-120 not a C-90 to be fair, anyway here goes, and the first two should be very obvious to readers of my blog:

WILKINSON – a brand that evolves and lives its values

I really like the Wilkinson brand – they do lots of things really well.  I like how they take unusual city centre spaces and make them usable e.g. Carlisle Indoor Market.  I like the space they put in stores.   I like the fact that they are a family firm.  I especially like that their vision is called “Delivering the Extraordinary” and is centered on delivering “Extraordinary everyday shopping in the heart of the community”.

They seem to me to live their values, one of which I especially like which is “Pull together” – how nicely phrased is that?  But more than that, you know I admire their marketing (especially their lorries) and I admire their embracing of their heritage … whilst modernising it;

wilko lorry allsorts

Check out the link below for the work Jupiter Creative are doing on a new concept store in Crawley.  Nice looking store and an interesting retail approach. And the name, well it’s what we all call them .. Wilko’s.  Nice work Jupiter ! This is yet another example of the resurgence of the brand heritage story in a way that works in today’s society.

Jupiter Creative website – news story on Wilko’s


norfolkline branding

I’m not entirely sure when I first saw this logo/brand.  In fact the colours are an unusual palette for me to like … But I do.

It’s simple and I have always liked it.  No rationale really and that is one thing that is great about being in Marketing, sometimes it just doesn’t matter why you like something.  I was driving home from Lichfield yesterday and saw one of their lorries on the A50; I smiled.


Right then the next three; these were tough to arrive at, and if I posted this tomorrow they may change… but here goes;


AMMO magazines

I am a direct marketer by nature as well as by profession I think, so, and as a consequence, I take a healthy interest in print and paper.  By the nature of the brands I have worked on it is rare for me to be able to use illustration in my work, so I satisfy my interest in that sphere in the art I collect and in what I read.  AMMO magazine is pure little bundle of pleasure that drops through my letter box every now and again.  It’s published every now and again alongside some special issues.  It’s a funny shape.  It contains some truly great work, and some I don’t like one little bit, but it’s always interesting and it is crafted with such care and attention, from the size and format to the paper stock used.   I love it.

It is all about showcasing new illustrators work : Check it out I dare you .. It only costs about £5 a copy !



David Mellor was a great designer.  He had a huge range that stretched from cutlery to traffic lights to street furniture to hacksaws.  I am a serious fan.

Interestingly I knew nothing about him until I moved to the Peak District.  He came from Sheffield and his son Corin now runs the business from the fabulous ‘Roundhouse Workshop’ in Hathersage.  Of all his designs I like two hugely:  The square post box .. It never really caught on, but you know how much I like squares … so I will move on to my personal cutlery : Its called Minimal and its simple stainless steel crafted with care and attention… even down to the hand labelled box with bespoke calligraphy.  I think it is simply gorgeous.

Minimal Cutlery by David mellor

Minimal Cutlery by David Mellor

The small design museum is well worth a visit, the shop is great, and the food in the small restaurant is always lovely and often unusual.

David Mellor Design website


I realised I had no ads in my top 10 and this came to mind straight away.  I will do a  top ten of ads in the future I think, but I loved this idea.  The oyster card when launched was indeed a thing of the future and this tie up was very forward thinking as well.  The ad sums it up neatly, and when I saw it … I immediately went home and played Animals by Pink Floyd… the power of advertising!

barclaycard oyster

So there you have it ten simple things that make me happy .. Please add a comment or two and let me know what you think

17 February ’13

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The new subliminal marketing

A marketing mind like mine is troublesome at times and forever looking for new creative connections or media that will appeal to consumers.

I found myself thinking about advertising on bus backs the other day, remarkably unsuccessful if you are looking to optimise for take on cost in my experience, but I was thinking about new, different, media opportunities for 2013.

Only a couple of weeks ago in a presentation I found myself referencing subliminal advertising, and a recent drive took me along one of my favourite stretches of road – past the distribution depot near Worksop for B&Q and past the Wilkinson HQ and distribution centre.  Regular readers of this blog will know of my love for the Wilkinson brand. They do things very well in my view, from advertising to living by their brand values and ethics.


Unconnected you may think, well not to me … and I accept this blog may run a risk of me being seen as a bit of a geek !! But here goes anyway …

Subliminal advertising was a hoax initiated by James Vicary in the US in the 1950’s.  He reported that he had managed to induce cinema goers to drink more coke and eat more popcorn thanks to single frame images he had spliced into a film.  It took him 20+ years to admit this was a hoax and that it was driven by a desire to promote his marketing consultancy.  The effect lingers on however … just try searching subliminal advertising !  It still induces consumer fears of manipulation even today.

But maybe subliminal advertising is still relevant, at least in spirit.  I interpret this as being almost unconscious awareness and this is where my thoughts about lorries come in … see I told you this ran a risk of being a bit geeky …

B&Q lorry

Driving past B&Q distribution depots you realise a number of things;

  • The sheer number of lorries they own
  • The impact of their brand at the size it appears on their lorries
  • The sheer value of these moving ‘posters’ must be immense

They just reinforce the brand though, Wilkinson’s on the other hand have taken their use of freight advertising a step further.  They are using powerful visuals that are immensely appealing and have incredible standout as you drive past, either single lorries or, their depot.  The beauty of this is that they are timeless to an extent as well, no need for continued upgrades, they are not campaign specific.

wilko lorry allsorts

Why is this remotely interesting I hear you ask; well, the amount of domestic tonnage shifted by road in the last year has grown to over 400 million tonnes and so even if there are the same number of lorries moving about they are becoming more visible.  Alongside Germany, France and Italy road haulage volume has been consistently growing since 2009.  I am indebted to the fascinating DoT Road Freight Statistics Quarterly bulletin for this insight – a real page turner I might add!

Of course the exemplars of extending haulage into its own marketing success story are Eddie Stobart – from toys to TV shows to fan clubs.  But they are building their haulage brand B2B and that must have worked brilliantly. In fact if I need a haulage brand I would think of them first, then Norfolk Line – because I love their branding !  Ok I’d go for Norfolk Line just because of the branding, what can I say, I’m shallow !

eddie stobart

If Eddie Stobart is the exemplar in extending the brand then we should look at how the worlds most ubiquitous brand is using haulage to sense check if B&Q, Wilko’s etc have something:-  Coca Cola.

In simple terms they are using haulage as an opportunity in two ways

  1. they are using lorries in their advertising and
  2. they use their lorries to advertise with some very clever stand out in Europe.

cocacolaads2 coke lorry

Even Eddie Stobart tried something different with the Rugby League sponsorship on lorries, deemed to be a failure by the RFL and Rugby League supporters, but perhaps that is only because it was too few lorries for too short a period?

stobart sponsorship of Super League

One other company who have done some clever things very well, in my mind, recently are Currys & PC world.  Their co-branding makes sense in how they present it and connect it using colour.  A step further for them is the use of the “Knowhow” branding.  On lorries this is clever and engaging – look out for the messages on the lorry backs – funny and relevant (and the font is big enough to carry impact).

know how truck

So can I tie all of this together, perhaps it is not a perfectly thought out theory, perhaps it is not a trend for 2013, but I think the following are interesting points/opportunities to think about:

  • If you have ready access to a moving media that covers large amounts of the UK and is increasing in presence … and have a consumer brand … then use it !  People have spent enough on bus backs to make this worth a try when it is your own media
  • It will stand out, if you think about the media, as the vast majority of lorries out there are plain … take a look next time you are driving along
  • Think about longevity, like Wilkinson have done
  • Think about getting stand out through strong creative, just like any other media, and use Coca Cola etc as inspiration, or alternatively … use a big font and your name !

If you do that, maybe, just maybe, this will become a form of subliminal advertising in a way that works, after all Stobart have managed to create a very strong brand in the UK and extended it into areas well beyond traditional haulage.  Now back to the lovely Norfolk Line branding ….

norfolkline branding


26 December 2012

PS Have a great 2013 !

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