I don't like either brand. the brands I tend to enjoy are Patagonia, Khul, Mountain Hardware, and REI brand products. To me the REI brand products not only look better, but are of a better quality than the North Face and Columbia's offerings. And North Face gear tends to be more expensive than both.
Agreed with the Patagonia and Mountain Hardware quality, top notch, but usually really pricy and rarely if ever on sale. I don't mind North Face gear, but only at their top end where the quality is greatest. I usually wait for end of season sales to see if any of the decent NF items are available. Columbia is mostly poor quality budget to mid range gear.
REI brands are getting better the past couple of years. Some of their layer and outerwear have improved in quality for sure.