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Confessions of a beer fanatic during a visit to the Guinness factory
I had an opportunity to travel to Ireland and England during a recent vacation. In addition to being a coffee fanatic, I also love great beer. As you could imagine, a visit to the Guinness factory was definitely on the schedule. Being a student of all aspects of marketing, it was a great opportunity to fuel my beer passion and study one of the greatest brands of all time.
Guinness, one of the greatest brands of all time
We entered the Guinness factory at St. James Gate. This part of Dublin has been associated with the brewing trade since the 17th Century and the plentiful supply of water. When traveling in Ireland, you immediately notice the Celtic harp is everywhere, including part of the Guinness sign and on a pint glass. That is because the harp is the national symbol of Ireland, dating back to when English monarch Henry VIII declared himself King of Ireland in 1531. It was revered in Celtic culture (and all over Europe at the time). It was required by Scottish and Irish kings and chieftains to have their own resident Harper. The musician's main duties were to accompany poetry recitations or the singing of psalms. No wonder, Arthur Guinness chose the harp to become part of his brand.
The long history of the Guinness Brand
Guinness is one of the most widely recognized brands in the world. Arthur Guinness signed a 9000-year lease for the four-acre brewery at St. James Gate on December 31st, 1759, the date it was founded in Dublin. The lease (shown here encased in glass under the floor) stipulated a payment of £45 per year for the lease, a pittance in today's economy. To equate that into pints of Guinness in today terms, each pint costs €5 in the Palace Bar on the fringes of Temple Bar area of Dublin. Converting the cost of the lease in today's currency, it would take only 12 pints of Guinness to pay for one year of the factory lease! Now that is forward thinking.
One of the uniquely recognized elements of the Guinness brand it the pour of each and every beer, the characteristic head and if you are lucky, a shamrock image in the top of it. Guinness takes a different approach than most breweries in that it uses nitrogen to provide the carbonation and head where most beers use Co2. The key difference is the size of the bubbles. Nitrogen produces very fine bubbles which in turn create a velvety head which enhances the flavor and experience.
However, the time it takes to pour a pint of Guinness became an issue for the brand when selling to impatient Americans. So much so, that the company ran advertisements in 1998 emphasizing the importance of a good pour to bring out the flavor if the Guinness beer. The advertisement below and others helped the company create a loyal worldwide following.
Guinness surfer ad from 1998 - Good things come to those who wait!
Today, the waiting time for a Guinness pour is not an issue. Guinness turned a product liability into an asset. Now more beers are available with a nitrogen feed. Samuel Adams has launched the "Nitro Project" with several nitrogen infused beers sold in cans and on tap at local pubs. The nitrogen craze is also making its way into my other vice, coffee! Starbucks just announced a cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen to provide the same head as a Guinness but in coffee.
Guinness's New Brand Lesson - Marketing in a Digital World
So as you can see, the Guinness brand has lasted longer than most products we know of today. The company has responded to threats creatively and utilized marketing to turn product liabilities into assets. A new challenge for many businesses is the shift to the digital world. Guinness is making the same transition to digital as other alcohol producing companies. They are creating immersive environments including video, visitor analytics, leveraging many platforms for engagement beyond television including social media, on-line video, everything optimized for mobile phones, and even opportunities for visitors to learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. My perfect pint is on the right; however I must confess I was not able to create a shamrock in the head of the beer.
How is Your Digital Marketing?
Take a few moments right now to think about how your company is engaging with your customers and prospects. Are you engaging them in a way to address their problems? Is your business creating fun ways for them to engage with your brand? Does your brand identity match the perception of prospects? If you would like some help addressing these gaps, take a moment to consider an updated digital strategy for your business, and it starts with the right content to engage buyers. The content strategy can help create qualified opportunities digitally, but also help you build a powerful brand perception that is also fun to engage.