The world needs an antidote to homogeneity and blandness

Emma T - 29 th February 2016

“We believe the world needs an antidote to homogeneity and blandness!” That’s the philosophy from Scottish whisky distillery Bruichladdich, based on the remote Inner Hebridean island of Islay.

Their mantra continues with: “We believe in innovation and progress.” For me, it’s so refreshing to hear this from a whisky company, who in the main, are generally quite old school in their thinking.  

Bruichladdich’s management has successfully developed a brand worthy of citation in every marketing textbook, and there are six clear areas I’ve outlined, which I feel are the keys to their success:

  1. A great story 
    During the 2000s, a wine producer holidaying in Islay wanted to look around the closed distillery. He wasn’t allowed to step inside and take a look around, so naturally, he went and bought the lot – now Bruichladdich is one of the most successful distilleries in Scotland.

  2. Commercial innovation
    A new business model persuaded customers to part with cash for a cask of whisky 10-20 years before it would actually be suitable for drinking, helping Bruichladdich overcome early cash flow issues.

  3. Product innovation
    Incredibly, they’ve managed to innovate whilst maintaining the brand’s character and heritage – everything is still made by hand. Despite this, the distillers challenged the rules of whisky production so radically that Bruichladdich was thrown out of the Scotch Whisky Association! Now, over a decade after they bought the distillery, the company is the largest employer on the island with nearly 80 staff, but still even though we’re in 2016, the only computer there is in the on-site shop.

  4. An enduring philosophy and values
    “We believe in Terroir” – unheard of for whisky production and something they have stuck to religiously – even though it has meant no longer selling casks in advance as they have no more room to store them in situ. To me, character, variety, innovation and progress are all clearly visible in everything they do.

  5. A distinctive brand
    Whisky in sea-green packaging? Apparently this was the colour of the loch on the first day the distillery re-opened. That’s not something you’d expect with a whisky brand but it’s unique and bold.

  6. An irresistible, brand-driven customer experience
    The brand basics are spot-on to the point that when you visit the distillery you feel like a member of the Bruichladdich family. While visiting, you are not shown round by old chaps who have worked there forever but by young, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and incredibly friendly Islanders.

I have become such a firm advocate of Bruichladdich that I could go on about the brand all day. What’s even more amazing is that I hate whisky!

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Emma has had a very successful marketing career spanning a range of industries. This enables her to truly understand, and help overcome, the challenges her clients face in developing and operationalising winning brands.
Find out more about Emma T