When most people think about water, a few keywords might come to mind: refreshing, calm, clear, and hydrating. Water is the essence of life for nearly everything on planet earth, how could anyone associate it with anything else? Liquid Death, the explosive water brand has brought death, murder, violence, and destruction to the vocabulary list in a very aggressive fashion. Liquid Death is like a bull let loose in an Ozarka china shop, or a rowdy child unleashed onto the Dasani playground. The brand is abrasive, harsh, and all death metal; Liquid Death isn’t just trying to be another water brand, they are taking all the typical water branding cliches and doing the complete opposite. People love them for it. Successful branding, close attention to their audience, and wild social media campaigns have created this 700-million-dollar juggernaut. What can brands learn from their achievements?
Most corporate water brands consumed daily keep it simple. Ozarka uses its mountain spring illustration, and Dasani uses the deep blue color customers have linked to H2O. While everyone buys these products, no one does so for the brand. Aside from maybe some small flavor distinctions, most large water brands on grocery store shelves are the same. Whenever Liquid Death burst onto the scene in 2017, they sought to differentiate themselves with one key factor in mind; branding.
Liquid Death's flying skull, gothic lettering, and dark colors are all inspired by metal and punk music movements, and seek to answer the question no one had: What if water looked like beer? The genius branding that helped Liquid Death was only the beginning; the company's founder Mike Cessario, who worked on viral campaigns for shows like "House of Cards" and "Stranger Things", knew the brand was half the battle. After creating the product, Cessario created a series of ads he ran on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, all boasting the unique Liquid Death tagline, "Murder Your Thirst". The company's first big success was how it laid the groundwork. They caught lightning in a bottle, combining creative advertising with a unique brand to soar into the same category as companies like Aquafina.
Liquid Death is abrasive, obnoxious, and ruthless in its marketing. They swear, proudly post offensive social media complaints on their homepage, and use violence for shock value. For some people, this is an instant turn-off. For their target audience, however, it's a perfect strategy. Liquid Death's biggest strength is they know their audience incredibly well and know how to cater to them continuously.
Whether it's working with adult film stars or shooting commercials with comedians like Bret Kreischer and Steve-O, Liquid Death pushes their marketing hard towards Millennials and Gen Z, who see these people as incredibly entertaining. Liquid Death doesn't struggle with the "fellow kids" dilemma: they understand their target audience so well, nothing feels forced or manufactured. Instead of just opening Tiktok and basing their market strategy on the first few videos they scroll through, they take the time to carefully explore and thoroughly learn all they can about the culture of the biggest buyers in the industry. Liquid Death is also environmentally conscious and focuses on sustainability, a huge motivating factor for buyers. The brand uses recycled aluminum cans for all of its packaging and sources its water sustainably, without harming natural ecosystems. This peace of mind when purchasing gives them a huge leg up over corporations like Coca-Cola or Nestle with consumers, especially those in their target audience. Liquid Death might not be for everybody, but they know how to run a campaign, and they know even better how to sell to an audience. Brands who want to live on the edge and break the norms of traditional marketing can learn a thing or two from Liquid Death.
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