When I was at Circus, the brand consultancy, I was lucky enough to work on the John Lewis account. John Lewis doesn't need much help from the likes of us branding folk, it intuitively understands its customers, even in the absence of a marketing department (only recently installed) and the brand is deservedly thriving.
Anyway, a friend of friend (the stunningly beautiful Nielem, with the interesting job of managing Robbie Williams' website) recently popped into John Lewis on Oxford Street to enquire about knitting classes. The lady behind the counter apologised and said they weren't running any at the moment because it wasn't the right season (when is knitting season I wonder?), but offered to teach Nielem how to knit herself, there and then. An hour later, they're still there, pearling away.
How absolutely lovely is that? A sales assistant that goes beyond the call of duty to help a customer. There are very few brands I can imagine doing that, let alone creating a brand experience that is so genuine and interpersonal.