Purpose – The paper aims to investigate the main aspects of perceptions of the Mini brand in the UK. Given that consumers' perceptions of a brand are represented by brand awareness and brand image, this research undertakes an in-depth investigation of the image of the BMW Mini brand in its most established market. Design/methodology/approach – The study consisted of 55 in-depth interviews with a cross-section of important stakeholders with high brand awareness and knowledge. Findings – The research identifies the importance of the symbolic elements of the brand's image, in particular its fun, sporty, fashionable and stylish image. The study reveals that the brand's appeal is largely at an emotional level based on the brand's symbolic image and key associations. A model is developed to reflect these findings. The study concludes that associations are key to stakeholders' perceptions of the brand. In particular associations related to the brand's heritage and product-related associations such as the car's aesthetics and handling. Practical implications – The research identifies the importance of maintaining the brand's heritage, including its British origins, and the product's core appeal. In light of the importance of the brand's British origins, the research identifies possible challenges created through the brand's new German BMW ownership, and the launch of the new Mini. Originality/value – The study develops a unique insight of this historic and valuable brand, as perceived by key stakeholders with high brand awareness and knowledge. In the light of these findings a model is developed that offers an improved understanding of how brand perceptions are developed.