Beware of the Big Brand Brainwash

big brand brainwashThankfully, the big brand brainwash no longer has an effect on me. I can’t remember when I last went to Starbucks.

At first, it was the novelty and the dazzling selection of coffees – Latte, Americano, Macchiatto, Frescato, Schmuckato…. all in different sizes – regular, tall, grande…

But then I realised that a coffee at Starbucks is actually quite expensive, I mean REALLY expensive, and I started to wonder how they can make people spend a fortune on a cup of coffee.

It’s not just Starbucks, but also Costa Coffee, Pret-A-Manger and all the other high-profile chains that offer over-priced food and drink consumers are so willing to pay for without thinking twice.

But why?

What’s wrong with the independent coffee shop or tea room that offers your favourite hot beverage at half the Starbucks price?

Is it because they don’t offer a free Wi-Fi connection? Or are you worried about taste and quality?

Who says that the big brands’ products are of high quality anyway? Do you find yourself being sucked into the clever marketing without realising? Perhaps you have fallen for the big brand brainwash.

Granted, the drinks taste the same in every Starbucks or Costa Coffee, regardless where in the country (or even the world) their branches are. Taste is consistent, even the Rocky Road cake in the London Starbucks tastes exactly the same as in the Leeds branch.

We just know what we’re getting; it’s familiar and perhaps risk-free. But when we settle down for the well-known and usual routine, decay sets in. We are no longer prepared to explore new and often more exciting territory.

All these big brands love to hype their coffee and tea as fair trade and superior, but to be honest, fair trade is far more mainstream and widely on offer now than it used to be. Even most independents have jumped onto that bandwagon.

Superior product quality is always questionable, especially when it’s hyped in the company’s marketing campaign.  Often it’s just another big brand brainwash.

So why am I writing about this?

Well, next time you are thinking of heading to Starbucks or Costa again like a drone, I’d like to ask you to seek out that little independent place and give it a try – just for a change.

Independents struggle to keep going, because people have been manipulated by the big brand brainwash, yet there are some real gems amongst the independents.

I challenge you to seek them out in your area and support them instead of the big brand chain store.

As you know, the big brands cleverly avoid paying corporation tax in the UK, yet the independents are unable to pull this kind of creative accounting heist.

The big brands claim they create new jobs, but there are people employed in independent shops, too.

Many independents don’t survive for more than two years, but they are beginning to strike back with exciting niching like the London cat café, Seven Arts café in Leeds and Yorkshire’s own Betty’s Victorian style tea rooms.

I challenge you to seek out these gems and support their dedication, innovative ideas, personal service and artisan skills (often their patisserie and breads are far superior without costing more than the big brand products).

Let’s not create a world, where the only coffee shop you can go to is either a Starbucks or Costa, while independents have gone out of business.

Let’s aim to keep our high streets more colourful, quirky and exciting.

Do you have a favourite independent coffee shop you visit regularly? Please tell me all about that little gem you’ve found. I’d love to hear from you.

Warmest wishes,



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