What’s in a (brand) name? How does ‘Bannatyne’ sound?

How much weight does a 'brand' carry?  What premium would you pay as a buyer for that brand?  And are there specific dangers where the 'brand' is also your personal name?

I started my career at Mars, one of the great branding organisations of all time, and I have no doubt that the focus on protecting the integrity of the brand was strengthened by the fact it was also the family name.

So a warning perhaps to Duncan Bannatyne.  My impression of him on "Dragons' Den" was pretty positive; he has a great back-story, and seems a genuine person.  I stayed at his hotel in Darlington a couple of years ago and it was good - not brilliant, but fine.  Then the other weekend, I visited my parents and stayed at the Bannatyne hotel just out of Durham.

Now, I expected it to be right next to the A1(M) because I could see that from the directions.  I didn't quite realise my room would be about 30 yards from the hard shoulder (which it was...).  No air conditioning so on a warm evening, it is a choice of windows open and no sleep, or windows shut to reduce traffic noise to a dull roar, and boil.

But I don't really blame Mr Bannatyne for that.  However, advertising free wi-fi that then " wasn't working"  - and according to the staff, "hadn't been working for days" was not impressive.  That was a key reason I booked the hotel...

Then there was the slightly worrying odour in the bathroom, the batteries sellotaped into the TV remote control (the back was missing), the broken lid on the kettle, the badly damaged carpet in the bedroom; it wasn't horrible (stayed in worse in London), but it was all a bit shabby and I certainly wouldn't have wanted to put my name to it.

To give some balance, it was only £50 (no breakfast included mind you), the staff were pleasant and the Bannatyne Health Club next door has a very good gym (free to hotel guests).  But my image of the Bannatyne brand has changed somewhat.

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