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Retail response: Celebrating the hero brands of retail and hospitality

The world has changed beyond recognition in recent months, as Governments enforce restrictions to try and bring COVID-19 under control. While the retail and hospitality sectors have been grappling with the challenges of financial insecurity and furloughing staff, we’ve been continuing to support our clients in the best ways we can.

It’s been fascinating to witness how different brands have been reacting to the pandemic. Some retailers and brands have been responding to the current crisis in remarkable and innovative ways that will be remembered by their consumers well into the future. On the other hand, others have continued to simply ‘navel gaze’, turning away from their staff and customers, and showing themselves to be socially irresponsible.

But brands need to tread carefully. We were amused but not surprised, to see the launch last month of the website Did they help? This new site is charting the behaviour of companies and celebrities during the pandemic, resulting in a leader board of ‘Heroes and Zeroes’!

If the discourse around the importance of ‘brand experience’ wasn’t cutting through before the pandemic, then it certainly is now!

Whilst daily thoughtless and negative actions by some will continue to make news headlines, what’s important to us, as design consultants, is to seek out the brand ‘heroes’ of retail and hospitality. All the case studies in the news today, illustrate the importance of brand building. And importantly, they also serve as a vital reminder that, your brand is not what you say it is but what your consumers ‘experience’ it to be.

So here is our own leader board of recent retail and hospitality brand news stories to celebrate the positive and innovate contributions some are making.


This is one of many heart-warming stories from the hospitality sector which features a podcast from Michelin-starred chef James Sommerin, who is helping to feed frontline hospital workers. Read more

The Hospitality sector has really come into its own with great initiatives like this one by Best Western who were the first hotel in the UK to be turned into a discharge hospital. Read more

We chose this podcast from Peach Pubs because it’s not only a good listen but an example of how some have been looking after the well-being of their furloughed staff. It also shines a light on creative thinking by reopening some of their pubs as a social enterprise. Read more


John Lewis has launched a number of initiatives but this one stood out for us when it announced that it had teamed up with the British Medical Association (BMA) to deliver care packages to NHS staff on the coronavirus frontline across the UK’s busiest hospitals. Read more

The Ted Baker brand suffered last year when its founder hit the headlines but this launch of its first ever digital pop-up shop as a ‘not for profit’ - with a promise to provide long-term community support - was a positive piece of brand building that will undoubtedly mend some broken brand bridges. Read more

Lacoste is just one of many fashion brands to support PPE production and this article publicised a fantastic milestone as they reached production of their 100,000 mask! Read more

The new generation of Shopping Malls have been investing in customer experience strategies for some time, but we really liked this initiative to engage their local community by the team at LiverpoolONE. Read more

Not many will have even known about the existence of the Schuh Trust until this news item which announced their unprecedented donation to provide critical support to the UK relief effort. Read more

Retail Gazette are among many sector news feeds keeping us all up-dated, but we liked this article bringing together the retailers who have risen to the challenge to financially support the NHS as well as its urgent need for PPE. Read more


This is an interesting listen from the perspective of a wholesaler. It’s an honest interview about how the current crisis is affecting the luxury watch sector and Bremont in particular. Lots of great take-outs for both wholesalers and retailers but importantly ideas on how wholesalers can support their retail customers. Read more

And lastly but not least, we couldn’t end this piece without a ‘shout out’ to our client Clogau for their fabulous fundraising initiative. Read more


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