The brand story is this decade’s version of the Unique Selling Proposition. Every brand needs to nail the art of story-telling to build an emotional connection with consumers. But where do you start, if your brand doesn’t already have a strong story? To help you figure that out, we went straight to a category that has been at the forefront of brand story-telling: adult beverages. We drank in their stories (see what we did there?) and discovered several themes that can be used as the basis for successful story-telling.
Be militant about your superiority.
Cross the line from passionate to extremist. Aggressively declare your superiority a la Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, which declares, “As the progenitor of its style, Arrogant Bastard Ale has reveled in its unprecedented and uncompromising celebration of intensity. This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.” Or build a story around what a “raging perfectionist” you are about your production process, like the Angel’s Envy distillers who personally taste every barrel of their award-winning whiskeys.
It’s good to be bad.
Glorify your rough edges, like Midnight Moon moonshine does with its mason-jar packaging, its connection to Appalachian bootleggers who proudly confess to once being busted by government revenuers, and its slogan “Any more authentic and it would be illegal.” Fearlessly explore the dark side like Bacardi, who backs their “Untameable” claim with a history of freedom-fighting and exile and laughs in the face of danger by promoting a Halloween party in the Bermuda Triangle. Associate with the forbidden, like Templeton Rye, by introducing your brand as a favorite of Al Capone’s during the Prohibition era. If you can’t dig up your own anti-establishment history, try borrowing some badness by aligning your brand with villains, as Jaguar does in their Good to be Bad ad campaign.
Embrace your quirky nuttiness.
Brand characters have gone well beyond the cartoon icons of old, such as Tony the Tiger and the Pillsbury Doughboy, although those cute and engaging characters have both aged very well. Today’s brand characters for adult beverages are, well, more adult, but still fun, and the quirkier the better, it seems. Captain Morgan rum has fun with its pirate theme, tying it into everything they do, even posting pirate adventure videos on their website.Dos Equis beer has just as much fun with their advertising character, The Most Interesting Man in the World.
The main lesson to take away is, don’t be a bland brand. The winner isn’t the one with the biggest marketing budget, it’s the one who tells the most interesting story.