You may know exactly what makes a good whiskey–but so do hundreds of others. According to IBISWorld research, there were 809 whiskey distilleries in the United States in 2023, which makes for a saturated market. Your whiskey creation process may be top-notch, but you won't be a leader in the market unless you have a creative strategy that stands out. Thus, you’ve stumbled on one of the toughest problems facing producers today: how do you make space for your brand and product in a crowded field like whiskey production?
According to marketing writers at Forbes and Inc., standing out boils down to two big things: finding your niche and branding.
Once you’ve found your niche—a more specific, less-saturated segment of the market—you’ll know what your product is and is not. Who do you think your customers are? The fact is, your product can’t be everything to everyone; if you try, you’ll end up with a product whose brand messaging is so diluted that it gets lost in the sea of other products. Knowing what exactly your product is and to whom exactly it should be sold is a key to opening up space in a flooded market.
The next key is branding. According to Pavel Stepanov for Forbes, there are five elements of a brand: identity, purpose, messaging, differentiation, and experience. Each is important for creating a cohesive brand that can stand up to a saturated market.
Evolve Creative: Whiskey Marketing Connoisseurs
Evolve Creative has experience implementing marketing strategies to ensure that whiskey brands will be noticed and purchased. Most recently, we have served Rimfire Whiskey, Souvenir Whisky, and Knockmore Irish Whiskey. Read on to see how Evolve helped these manufacturers launch cohesive brands.
Building Brand Identity
Brand identity is how your brand looks/feels. This is Evolve Creative’s specialty! With full-time designers and experts, Evolve can take your brand from daydream to fruition in a few short months. “Our responsiveness/turn around time is unparalleled,” says Sarah Ek, an Account Manager at Evolve Creative.
For instance, Rimfire Whiskey had initial meetings with Evolve Creative in December of 2021. By the following March, a full website was launched, complete with digital and print graphic design, meticulously written copy, photography, and promotional video. During this time, Evolve Creative took careful measures to ensure that the design of Rimfire’s online presence furthered the story of the bottle’s existing packaging. “We take the time to look at every element of marketing…that goes into making the product a success,” says Ek. For example, the “custom coal mining coin on the Rimfire lid [was] worked into the website copy and design.” Evolve’s artists will make sure your product shines with custom design.
Highlighting Brand Purpose
Brand purpose is your company’s mission–it is why you’re in business. According to Stepanov, it also “helps connect with consumers who believe the same things.” For instance, Rimfire aims to serve a complex amber whiskey that honors West Virginia. They do this through their packaging, their label and website copy, and through donations to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
That said, Rimfire is just one brand example. Don’t get intimidated by talk of “purpose”--your brand purpose does not have to be service-oriented. In the case of whiskey, your purpose might just be to bring people together over a reasonably priced, quality spirit.
Distilling Brand Messaging
Brand messaging is how you communicate with consumers. Similar to brand identity, it is the voice of your company.
One company that utilizes storytelling in their brand messaging is Souvenir Whisky. When they began working with Evolve Creative, the company knew that they wanted to evoke the Prohibition era. Once they decided on the name Souvenir Whisky, “We started creating a ‘brand’ around that,” says Sarah Hokuf, Executive Creative Director and founder of Evolve Creative. The brand, with its old-school name and antique-styled labeling, evokes a bygone era: bootlegging, midnight runs, and illicit adventure. It tells the customer that there is something special about this aged whiskey, something exquisitely taboo, and that it’s worth its higher price point. This helps it stand out on the market–and on a liquor store shelf.
Emphasizing Brand Differentiation
Brand differentiation is “your unique selling proposition”—it’s what makes you special, what makes you different from your competition.
For instance, as stated earlier, there are 809 whiskey producers in the United States alone. Many of them offer a mid-range drink with tasting notes of cardamom, honey, and vanilla, but how many are barrel-aged for 10 years and named for the vernacular of bootleggers like Souvenir Whisky? How many include a collectible coal miner’s coin and donate to a preservation society like Rimfire?
Your brand differentiation can be about product quality, packaging, or purpose–its only real requirement is that it makes you unique.
Optimizing Brand Experience
Lastly, we come to brand experience, or the way that customers connect and interact with your products. How does the bottle feel in your hand? Does something about the packaging pique your interest and lead you to Google the company—and, when you do, does an attractive, navigable, and innovative website appear?
Again, we hit on one of Evolve Creative’s superpowers. Evolve has hired designers, directors, specialists, and developers to make sure that your website fits your brand, stands out from the market, and is navigable and inviting to customers.
For instance, Knockmore Whiskey came to Evolve’s team with the idea for an interactive map component. This component does not pre-exist in common web builders, so Evolve’s lead developer custom-coded it. This graphic adds to the customer’s experience of the brand, which in turn helps Knockmore stand out from the competition.
Partner with Evolve Creative
There is no easy way to get a foothold in a crowded market, but there is a smart way. By finding your market niche early on, identifying your brand components, and utilizing expert marketers like those at Evolve Creative, you can make a name for your brand even amidst steep competition. Contact us today to make creativity work for you!