Behind the brand: Liquid Death

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Image by Liquid Death

Graphic designer Mike Cessario was backstage at the Vans Warped Tour music festival in Denver one morning a few years ago when he noticed many band members were sitting outside their tour buses drinking cans of Monster energy drink, which was a sponsor at the event.

This struck Cessario as odd, because he knew that many of these musicians were into healthy living. Some were even straight-edge. It seemed unlikely they would be pouring the sugary mix of chemicals found in Monster down their throats.

But then Cessario took a closer look at one of the cans, and noticed some small text along the bottom. It read “festival water.”

The contents of the energy drink had been replaced with still water to keep the musicians hydrated, while keeping the sponsors happy with the branded cans.

“It started making me think. Why aren’t there more healthy products that still have funny, cool, irreverent branding?” Cessario told CNBC recently. “Because most of the funniest, most memorable, irreverent branding marketing is all for junk food.”

Cessario went back to his job as a graphic designer, but he could not let go of the idea.

Eventually he realised it was an itch he needed to scratch and so he sketched a logo for a water brand with the name ‘Liquid Death’ and mocked up how it might look on a can. He then shared this on his social media and waited to see what people thought.

They liked it.

To say what followed was a success is an understatement.

In four short years Liquid Death has grown from cheeky social media posts to Super Bowl commercials, and from zero revenue to over $130m in sales.

The lesson is it pays to stand out. In a sector awash with copycat brands featuring springs, lakes and mountains, it really was not that difficult to make a splash.

And although Cessario had imagined the brand would attract only a cult following, he was pleased to find that young people liked the edgy name and parents liked the fact that their kids were finally drinking something healthy.

“I didn’t think it would be this big,” says Cessario. “One of the most surprising things to everybody with this was how wide the audience really was.”

The brand is now flush with investor money – and looks set to continue to leave a bitter aftertaste in the mouths of its competitors.

This entry was posted in Advertising, Brand, Brand Design, Brand Strategy, Brand Trends on by .

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