by John Hamill


Brands and Monty Python

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Brands and Monty Python

‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ Which movie was that from? I’ll give you the answer, and why it’s important in just a little while.

Like you I’m sure, my childhood memory is filled with brands like Pan Am, C & A, Woolworths and Radio Rentals. All brands that I remember but are no longer around. Some have stood the test of time; Daz, Skips, Monster Munch and Converse. Of course, I didn’t know they were brands. I didn’t much think about them at all, but all these years later I remember them well. I even remember some fondly. Although I’m not sure remembering washing powder fondly is normal but, nonetheless, I do.

What I’m saying, I suppose, is brands matter. They are more than just a name or a logo, they are a way of communicating values. They conjure up images and affect how we view things, how we feel about things. They can be the difference between a lifetime’s loyalty to one product or not. My in-laws won’t hear of going anywhere but John Lewis, even for the smallest purchase. They are loyal and rightly so. They are what Ken Blanchard calls “Raving Fans” Here’s a few reasons why:

  • They have grown to trust the brand name and everything associated with it
  • They know they get good value, not low prices, good value
  • They identify with the people serving them. They care about them and what they need
  • If they don’t like it, they can take it back. Their business is more important than one transaction

Learning from the best

When we looked at rebranding our catering offer for business and industry, we considered what it was we were trying to do. What were our key drivers and goals? Well, for me it was about our customers seeing us in the right light, clearly seeing the elements of our offer and its relevance to them.  So how on earth were we going to find out? One of our team came up with the bright idea of asking them, so we did. Not surveys, just talking. The four key elements that were most important to them were:

  • Being vigilant in what goes in their food
  • Delivering good value. A fair price for great food and service
  • Trusting that the people that serve them every day will have their best interests at heart
  • If it’s not right, fix it quickly

Sound familiar? The alignment with John Lewis is not a coincidence. Trust is everything.

So, Angel Hill Food Co. was born out of our desire to show our customers that we get what is important to them, through our branding and our story. If we can get anywhere near what John Lewis means to my in-laws, I’ll be a happy man.

The Life of Brian

At the top I asked, ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ Well, the movie The Life of Brian was released on the day before my thirteenth birthday, I remember it vividly. My mates and I had been awaiting this event like it was the actual second coming. On the face of it, a film about a bloke called Brian being mistaken for The Messiah may not have spiked the interest of my rabble. We were comedy wise and pretty hard to please. But this was Monty Python, and boy were we big fans. We were loyal to a fault. Every new episode of the TV program was received with raptures, gathering in the playground the next morning to proclaim how hilarious it was and how much we loved it. In truth, we probably didn’t understand much of the humour but had come to trust Monty Python. If they said it, it had to be funny, whether we laughed or not. This is the very model of a brand, creating loyalty and trust in a target market. John Cleese and co, had us before the Pearl & Dean credits rolled. It remains my favourite movie of all time.

By the way, the answer to the question is; the aqueduct, sanitation, roads, irrigation… Oh you know the script.


5 tips when training for a marathon

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I’m in training to run a marathon. If you are doing something like that, you also need to blog, do a blog, be a blogger. It’s just the done thing. Now it seems, I’m all over that.

Run, just run

Because you can, you know. When I started running I struggled to get five minutes under my belt. The next time it was 6 minutes, then 7. Within a month, I was doing 5k, 3 times a week. Just run.

Get gear

The gear is good, it helps you feel better and helps you measure how you’re doing. Forest Gump didn’t have a Tom Tom Runner and just got on with it, but I think he would have been more satisfied had he had one of those bad boys. What I have learned, though, is that anyone can run. Anyone can do this most life affirming activity and good God, it makes you feel good. I’ve gone from struggling with five minutes to running a half marathon and picking up the pace in the last mile. I am truly amazed at what’s possible.

Do stuff together

I’m injured right now, so is my running buddy, who is also my wife, Lisa. She’s tough, she’ll run through pain. We’ve learned that the pain goes away. Pain is there for a reason but you’ll get over it. Running with someone gives you a shared experience too. That’s good. Supporting each other and all that is great but more importantly, achieving things together that otherwise seemed out of your reach, that’s incomparable.

Find inspiration

We’re running a marathon in Florence in four weeks. My friend, C-J Green, inspired me to do this after she ran London having had significant challenges to do so. She made me feel that we can all do things that seem impossible, if we set our mind to it. I’m running this race in memory of my best friend who died of cancer when we were teenagers. Peter Tristram was and is my motivation. He left us too early. Selfish git.


At the point when I started training. the first 10 minutes of running was really hard. I used to want to give up and a few times I did, that’s OK. Now I’m doing better. I’ve come to learn that most of it is in the mind. Believe you will get though the pain and you will. Whatever happens I know we’ll all make it. If I look back to when I first started on this journey, I would never have believed I could have made such progress. I seriously encourage you to believe in yourself, come on, get your act together. It really does feel good to do more than you thought you could. Just say to yourself, yes I can do this. You will be amazed and very proud at what you can achieve.