No, it’s not a can of beer. Not an energy drink. Not seltzer, even. It’s water.
What does it taste like? Water.
My wife endured a few days of my gleeful anticipation after exchanging a few dollars and my eternal soul (seriously) for two boxes of Liquid Death, only to discover after her first taste that it was exactly what I’d paid for.
Her take: “It’s water. In a can.”
I feel it’s important to ground myself a bit before I dive headfirst into the deep Austrian waters of branding goodness Liquid Death has curated. Sure, it’s just water, but Liquid Death’s approach to how they’ve built their brand is an interesting case study on how products are sold today. Packaged water, a product people rarely need outside of ease of transport, may be the perfect product to examine the power and importance of brand creation to get attention, share stories, and drive sales.
Here are three ways Liquid Death demonstrates their genius while simultaneously giving no f*cks if you think they’re smart or not.
Begin with a Belief
Pure. Crisp. Artesian. Life-giving. The packaged water market is filled with companies elbowing their neighbors to prove they are the cleanest and most exotic, exclusive, mineral-rich, and necessary to have in your life. While companies continue to find new ways to differentiate their offerings, like Blk. (through color) and Boxed Water (through packaging), the temperature of the market is relatively the same.
Enter Liquid Death. Their first viral video featured a woman waterboarding an executive with their product. A follow-up video is a gruesome animated short complete with a can of Liquid Death “murdering the thirst” of consumers. If you’re looking for an example of a negative message used for great effect, look no further.
Liquid Death is infusing a self-serious industry with a bit of self-aware humor, and a zombie-esque appeal with an ambition to create a cult-like following.
Lead a Community
Liquid Death’s metalhead motif will inevitably get a chuckle from anyone you introduce to it, but a business can’t be built on novelty alone. Getting their tallboy cans in front of the right people in the right places is priority number one if they plan on lasting longer than a few viral internet news cycles.
If you’re curious about who’d subscribe to receive 12 tallboy cans of water at their doorstep for $17 a month, look no further than the Liquid Death Instagram account.
In their stories and posts, they continually highlight how their unique brand identity is just a reflection of the community it was created for. Tattoo artists, metal heads, bikers, or individuals quasi-interested in getting interrogated by the police for shot-gunning what could easily be mistaken for a Miller Light or Modelo in public.
Stand for Something
By positioning the brand as the anti-hero, Liquid Death has activated a segment of the market that has never been directly communicated to. And as humorous as their marketing can be, they’re also committed to providing a service other water brands have left wide open.
Aside from being a more appealing way to stay hydrated between mosh pits, Liquid Death asserts that the average aluminum can contain 70% recycled material, while the average plastic water contains 3%. For all the unnecessary marketing material, this #DeathToPlastic campaign is bound to resonate with even the most conservative water drinker.
Liquid Death has successfully implemented a blue ocean strategy in a flooded (pun intended) market by giving a middle finger to the status quo, reaching out to an underserved segment of water drinkers, and making a green initiative fun in the process.
Aaron Dunn is a published poet and creative professional who believes marketing works better when done poetically. Combining his passion for creative storytelling with an understanding of inbound marketing and brand strategy, Aaron helps brands find their voice, lead their community, and build better businesses through intentional communication. You can follow him online @aarondunnworks or through his podcast, Strong Com Podcast.