Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to put ideas into the world today and nowhere is this more fitting than in the successful marketing of liquor. The very act of serving alcohol conjures up a social environment where friends come together to talk, share experiences and make memories.
By tapping into this emotion and sharing their own stories, liquor brands elevate their appeal to a level where their brand becomes so much more than just the contents of the bottle.
There is an art to crafting a story that resonates with consumers on both a rational and emotional level, but the rewards of a brand story well told are worth their weight in liquid gold.
Consumers drink in stories that make a human connection, and tell their stories in way that is unique, authentic and deliciously entertaining.
Let’s drink to four of those stories that continue to dominate in a hugely competitive category.
A taste of history
Heritage brands come with history. For Scotch, that history can be expressed in lineage, family ownership or being the original distillery in a certain region – think the Chivas to fame via Strathisla, the oldest continuously operating distillery in Scotland.
History is built into the legend – and vintage label design – of Jack Daniels, a tale that follows the eponymous founder through 150 years of challenges and transformations, becoming the story of a product so good, it had to endure.
History can also be the source material for special, premium releases, such as the nostalgic Johnny Walker Celebratory Blend, a sensory journey through Walker’s original Inverness store. Or the Don Julio 1942 Añejo edition, initially created for the 60th anniversary of the distiller’s first tequila.
How tall tales created a cult classic
What’s the story with a new brand that has no history? Simple. We craft our own story that becomes so compelling it draws consumers into a fantasy world – a new reality if you will.
For Nosferatu, we created a world inspired by a classic film noir character with a contemporary twist. Building on the pop culture appeal of Nosferatu, the infamous and visually iconic vampire count, a young brand with an ancient Gothic heart was born. As the brand blossomed, so did our family of spine-chilling characters, with the fictional history blending perfectly into all aspects of the brand, from the labels to the flavours.
I'll have what he's having
Consumers buy what celebs are selling. As the original Influencers, they almost instantly do the work of storytelling when they jump on board with a brand. Their story, what they like and what they believe becomes an intricate part of the brand.
Whether it’s Ryan Reynolds flying the flag for Aviation Gin, George Clooney wandering in the agave fields for Casamigos or The Rock repping his Teremana Tequila infused ‘cheat meals’ on Instagram, when consumers buy ‘their’ brand, they’re getting a taste of the celebrity lifestyle.
Wild Turkey added a powerful new chapter to their story when they made Matthew McConaughey Creative Director in 2016. This canny move doubled down on authenticity with his “deep connection to the roots and story of the Russell family.” His hands-on role in the bourbon-making process connected the stories of Kentucky and Texas whisky styles and resulted in the wildly successful Longbranch release.
Sustainability sells. It reflects a broader shift in lifestyle brands towards eco-friendly products and ethical positions.
Consumers who buy into the sustainability story gravitate towards brands that are grounded in reality, so those who venture into this territory need to back up their boozy stories with a shot or three of proof.
Think of The Botanist gin: they’ve made a big deal of their comprehensive plan for sustainability as ‘custodians of place’ in Islay, covering everything from agriculture and foraging to social impact.
In Australia, we’re seeing sustainable booze booming in the form of craft spirit brands such as Four Pillars, who are creating new commercial products from spent distillation ingredients. 78 Degrees Distillery ‘Crafted For Better’ proudly boasts sustainable practices such as solar power, water conservation and sustainably sourced native botanicals.
Taking a sip of inspiration from these new brands, Bombay Sapphire have jumped on the eco bandwagon, aiming to become “the world’s most sustainable gin” with certified sustainable botanicals and a distilling and bottling process that reduces emissions and uses recycled materials.
Whether you’re hitting eco-credentials, crafting fun fiction or creating history, the key to successful booze storytelling is to be consistently engaging and entertaining enough for consumers to drink it up and come back for another round.