Thursday, July 12, 2012

Brand Legend: Do you have it?

As champagne is to Champagne, France, so is Scotch Whiskey to Scotland. There's only one true Scotch whiskey and in Scotland, it's just called “whiskey,” for there is no other substitute for the folks in the Highlands, therefore, there is no need for the regional adjective.

In examining their marketing story we can learn an important lesson from the passion behind this unique blend of water, barley, yeast and fire. Do they use language? Yes. Do they exploit exclusivity? Yes. Do they tout the uniqueness of the terrain? Yes. But the BIG lesson is in the legend.

Legend provides strength, mystery, and validity for brand marketers. Some brand examples include Coca-Cola's unique formula, Colonel Sander's secret herbs and spices, or the one and only P&G's floating Ivory soap made from a formula discovered by accident.

The use of legend is even more potent with Scotch makers as the unique flavor is credited to both the ingredients and the individual size and shape of the vats in which the whiskey ferments. Even with replacement vats, some distilleries stay true to form as they replicate the original vats from more than 200 years ago, down to the cracks and dents. Such is the power of the legend in Scotland.

One legendary example is the exercise of a 300-year-old tradition believed to be the secret to Glendfiddich Whiskey's smooth taste. Glenfiddich Distillery hires a Scottish bagpiper to play to the casks of whiskey. This legend wins Scotch brand loyalists from around the world...a brand marketer's dream accomplishment. In fact, some sobering facts regarding the marketing success of Scotch is that it is enjoyed in more than 150 countries worldwide, and, since 2006, global shipments have exceeded 1 billion bottles. Even the English golfer Horace Hutchinson expresses typical British sentiments saying, “We borrowed golf from Scotland as we borrowed whiskey. Not because it is Scottish, but because it is good.”

In light of this information, consider for a moment what legends exist around your brand. Is it your history? A unique process that differentiates your product? An idiosyncratic detail that might seem strangely laughable today? The BIG question is how can you merchandise those in such a way that starts to build a legend around YOUR brand?

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