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Balistika / Marketing  / How to build a brand and stay faithful to it: A case study on Hendrick’s Gin
hendrick's gin

How to build a brand and stay faithful to it: A case study on Hendrick’s Gin

If you are at the beginning of your road and wondering how to build a brand then pay attention to those first brainstorming sessions because the identity you’re looking for is right there, staring you dead in the face. Most entrepreneurs will start off with coming up with the idea and then work on developing it as they contrast the usual suspects: the pros and cons. They will pick out the name, the area in which they operate, the target audience, the logistics of it, even future product or service collaborations and expect to grow into a powerhouse name from day one. In some cases, the dream materializes. In others, it falls flat. 

So how do you successfully build a brand? 

Well, the answer is simple: You have to promote values that stand the test of time. Brand identity is not only about the product or service you sell. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be if you aim on firing up your consumers’ search engines regularly. Brand identity is a series of proud beliefs you encourage through every copy you put out there, every label you design, every social media post, every blog and vlog and even through each and every person you choose to associate your brand with. 

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is,” says Scott Cook, founder of Intuit.

Hendrick's gin

And we couldn’t have said it better. Not a day goes by where we see so many brands struggling with deciding on an identity. The need to cater to everyone’s needs ends up causing the “target audience” to become simply “audience” and that, ironically, is a downgrade. It seems as if business owners believe success and profit reside in the number of people that interact with their brand and not the loyal following it should generate. If you believe you have something for everyone, you actually have nothing for all. It doesn’t matter how good you think your product or service is, not everyone will find themselves drawn to it, it’s against the laws of commerce. You can try throwing in as many memes as you can, commissioning reels on TikTok and forcing your way in, popping up for cringeworthy collabs just to put your name out there and be cool and be… shocked when your ROI does not match your efforts. Remember, not all efforts are good efforts and sometimes, when you lose sight of what your brand represents, you end up causing more harm than good. If you, yourself, don’t know the identity of your brand, how would the consumer know and why would they even waste time and money on fuelling your confusion?

So let’s point fingers in the right direction and talk about a brand that does it well: Hendrick’s Gin.

They are proud of their history

Bringing forth your roots is always a smart marketing choice. Consumers have the chance to connect with your brand if they know its history. And Hendrick’s Gin has a history that’s worth mentioning. 

A fairly recently launched gin (it first appeared in 1999), Hendrick’s will not bother you with old history or boring facts. On the contrary, their goal, right from the beginning, had been to conjure a type of magic and mystery around their brand. To add to it, their Master Distiller Miss Lesley Gracie is a pioneer of the “ginaissance” – the conscient revolution of reviving gin as a contemporary necessity. She has her own greenhouse at Hendrick’s Gin Palace, an innovation laboratory and plenty of enthusiasm for gin – elements which only contributed to her mission of infusing stories into the spirits she creates. 

It’s no wonder people are so fierce in their loyalty to Hendricks. At the end of the day, they also wish to partake in the wonder that is Hendrick’s Gin.

They remain true to their values

In an attempt to please everyone or perhaps earn the attention of more and more consumers, some brand owners will try everything – even compromising their brand identity. See the case of Bud Light and Dylan Mulvaney which proved that nowadays, bad publicity really is bad publicity. If you are that eager to throw your original brand values out the window, as a brand, you can’t expect consumers to promise you their loyalty.

For Hendrick’s, their values are the driving force behind their success. There is a reason why this spirits brand is so easily recognizable; they constantly work on staying on brand. Their beliefs are constantly surfacing in every direction. And they understand that their target audience expects an “Alice in Wonderland” experience, with a “curiouser and curiouser” palette for taste.

Everyone at Hendrick’s refers to their gin as “the unusual” and even the collection Miss Lesley Gracie put together is celebrated as the “Cabinet of Curiosities”. The gin bottles themselves look like alchemist recipients and you best be sure they have their own personality imprinted both on the label and within the taste. With gin names such as “FLORA ADORA”, “NEPTUNIA” OR “MIDSUMMER’S SOLSTICE”, it’s no surprise people are effortlessly enchanted.

Hendrick's gin

They keep their content relevant and on brand

What we appreciate most about Hendrick’s gin from a business and marketing point of view is that every move they make is calculated. When they come out with a new gin, they make sure there is enough room for a proper entrance. Their content and social media teams are always aware of what their consumers appreciate, they gather relevant feedback and reward gin enthusiasts with only the best product and that feedback can be seen, properly, in what they create.

If your goal is, and it should be, to have a successful brand identity then the secret is to be perfectly faithful to your values. If we take a look at what Hendrick’s does incredibly well, we can easily pinpoint the trifecta:

  • Copywriting: Hendrick’s employs a specific tone and vocabulary when it comes to any piece of written content. They prefer the elegant but whimsical approach to English in order to capture the consumer’s attention. Words such as “unusual”, “refreshing”, “curious”, “divine” and many others are a constant part of their repertoire. The language itself tells a story and builds expectation around the whole drinking experience. By keeping that tone, the consumer is reassured the taste remains intact each and every time.
  • Visual mediums: Everything from photos to videos needs to be presented in a certain manner. From day one, Hendrick’s Gin used a melange of beautiful composition and Victorian symbolistic to create a recognizable style. There’s no doubt in the consumer’s mind that they are looking at an original Hendrick’s photo or watching one of their intricate animations. When you enter the world of the most “unusual gin”, there is no need for poor improvisations.
  • Collaborations that make sense: Choosing who you associate your brand with resonates strongly in the media. Many brands will associate with celebrities or influencers that have the numbers but nothing to do with that particular brand, which is why in most cases, the financial returns will not amount to set expectations. In contrast, Hendrick’s Gin only establishes well-matched collabs that end up enhancing their product, for example their collab with Amuse restaurant or the chalice bowls commissioned with Henry Holland.

They take their brand to the next level

At one point, every brand will reach the point where they feel they can do more, and they should. As always, our advice is to grow in a direction that is relevant to your brand. For example, it would do Hendrick’s no favours should they casually involve themselves in investing their efforts to support something that has nothing to do with them nor the product they are promoting. 

However, going on a scientific quest in search of the most unique cucumber, now that is something worthy of the greats! Allow me to explain; any fan of Hendrick’s Gin knows that the unusual is best enjoyed with a slice or two of cucumber. So it’s only fair the alchemists at Hendrick’s Gin would strive to find the tastiest variety to enter the ranks of gin companions. Finding more varieties of cucumber means finding more ways to enjoy their main product with. This way, they promote both gin and cucumber alike, for “a healthy obsession”, as Master Distiller Lesley Gracie would say. 

Now that you have an overview of what it means to build a successful brand identity, you are now more proficient in pinpointing which methods to apply to your own brand journey. It only takes a few minutes going back to your beginnings, reconnecting to what made you believe your brand deserves to be out in the world and working around those precious goals.