HOT water


Our kettle died. It had a long and fulfilling life boiling water and then one day it stopped. Flicked the switch, nothing.


Anyway, time for a new one.


The thing was the kettle matched the toaster. Both brushed stainless steel and chunky black plastic. Both Bosch.


So I did the obvious, I went online for the same again.


Except it wasn’t there. Well, there was a Bosch one that looked similar but it had this grey plastic base. And the main body of the kettle was in two parts, so it didn’t look as sleek.


Only one thing for it, go for a new-new kettle.


And for some reason I thought this was no longer a job for Google. This needed a road trip, to what used to be PC World but is now Curry Land. Sunday afternoon, along with the rest of Merton.


Finding the kettles in the shop was easy enough. There was an aisle full of them. Maybe fifty kettles from maybe fifteen different brands.


Simplify, I thought. Get to a consideration set. First criteria, it’s got to be silver stainless steel and black. It has to go with the toaster.


Wow, that ruled out a lot, maybe 90%. Silver is obviously not where it’s at. Glass, black, grey, red, copper, platinum, part silver/part colour but very few just silver. You know, like a kettle.


Then I saw it. Black base, top and handle, everything else plain brushed stainless steel. The shape wasn’t quite as elegant as our dearly departed and it had this big Russell Hobbs embossed logo on it. But it was close.


When I got closer, I noticed it didn’t appear to have a switch. Closer still and I saw it had four buttons at the top of the handle. And a screen, it actually had a tiny screen. What was this new devilry?


Well, it was a Russell Hobbs Digital Quiet Boil Jug Kettle With Variable Temperature Control. So this kettle didn’t just boil water, it made water as hot as you wanted it, as long as that fell between 60° and 100°C.


Why, I thought, would anyone want that? I suppose we both drink our tea black. And once I’ve made a cup, I start sipping it straight away, which means I’m always ever-so-slightly burning my mouth.


And aren’t you meant to make coffee with water slightly below boiling, so it doesn’t burn the coffee?


Suddenly, it all made sense. I needed a kettle with Variable Temperature Control. I just never realised.


So that was that. £59.99 paid and home I went, for a cup of tea.


On the way back I started to get this odd feeling that something wasn’t quite right with my choice. So being a researcher, I interviewed myself. I should have done a brand projection but no one was paying me.


£60 did seem a lot.


Would it be easy to use? How do you use it?


And Russell Hobbs? There was definitely something good about the brand. I could even remember the Russell Hobbs kettle we had at home when I was growing up. Chrome and curved with a red button sticking out of its black handle. Everyone had them.


I had the same one at university, which then followed me to London when I started work. I don’t think it ever broke, it just got replaced, which was kind of disloyal of me. It had been there through thick and thin.


You could even say the design was a classic, although no one said that at the time. It was a kettle.


But somehow, for me, Russell Hobbs seemed a brand of the past.


So when I got home, I had all that swirling around in my mind. And when I got it out of the box, I was a bit more critical of the shape. It lacked a certain finesse.


Then I got to using it.


You pushed the power button to turn it on. The screen lit up blue and showed 100°C.


To set the temperature to anything else, you pushed another button. Each push reduced the temperature by 5°C.


Then when you were happy (I went for 85°C for the hell of it), you pushed the power button again to get it going.


Admittedly, it did boil quietly. And it did switch off at 85°, which was kind of satisfying.


But seriously? Five pushes of buttons? Five? Seriously?


And the screen wasn’t exactly Apple-like in its finish. There was even a scratch on the stainless steel, right on the front.


So I dried it out (don’t tell Curry’s) and took it back to reclaim my £59.99. A complete waste of a Sunday afternoon.


Until later that evening I went back online and decided to go straight to John Lewis.


And there it was. A kettle that looks exactly like our old kettle. Not a Bosch, though, John Lewis own-label. And £25.


So I ordered it. Picked it up the next day. Came in a nice black, white and orange box under their new brand 'Anyday'. Kind of made sense.


I filled it with water, switched it on, waited a bit, made a cup of tea and ever-so-slightly burnt my mouth.


Next time, I’ll switch it off just before it boils.

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by RICHARD BROWN

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