The Taste of Ireland — The Branding of Guinness

17 Mar

Interbrand, and advertising and branding firm, posted the article Irish for a Day on its blog today.  Irish for a Day examines the branding of Guinness and praising its exemplary brand management since its founding.  Interbrand attribute’s Guinness’s success to three factors (none of which have to do with the taste of its product): heritage, brand management, and unique experience.

Heritage — Founded in 1759, Guinness is one of the oldest brands in the world.  (And,  for many people, Guinness is evocative of Irish history.)  An often referenced anecdote of the company’s history included in the article: “In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease on an abandoned brewery at St James’ Gate, Dublin. It cost him an initial £100 with an annual rent of £45.”  (That was some foresight.  I wonder if anyone even knows who “owns” the land any more.)

Brand Management — Interbrand equates Guinness with Starbucks.  Like these two other iconic brands, a simplified and stylized image of the product is easily recognizable to customers.  And, “Similar to Apple and Starbucks consumers who flaunt their white headphones or white coffee cups as they walk down the street, brandishing a Guinness bottle or glass conveys a statement of belonging; of understanding the brand at a deep, emotional level.”  People who drink Guinness think that it says something about that, that it makes them a person of taste and distinction, and they want other people to know that, too.

We went to Ireland for the weekend when I was studying abroad in Wales. (That's me in the pink striped shirt.) It was 9:00 (am!) when we finished the tour and drank the pints. It was quite the day!

Unique Experience — Drinking a Guinness is an interaction between the person and the product that goes both ways.  “The visceral relationship manifests itself by the excitement one feels when first encountering this brand; the beer’s color, smell, the sound of its pour. The interactive relationship begins with the all-important opening ceremony: The pint arrives and the consumer…waits.”  There are few products that advertise their slowness and that own it.  Guinness is unique (I think?) in the beer world in this way.

Also about the experience, the Guinness Factory is a pilgrimage site.  It’s a beer drinker’s Disney Land.  And, it’s Ireland’s biggest tourist attraction.  Even I, who am not that big of a fan (sorry!), went to the Guinness factory when I visited Ireland and drank the free pint (I mean the pint that’s included in the price.)  It’s just what you do…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone.  (And, thanks Dad for sending me this article.)

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