I recently traveled to Kentucky with three of my brothers to tour distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. While enjoying a taste of some fine "sippin' whiskey," I pondered what had brought me there, of all places (aside from the aforementioned whiskey). It finally occurred to me--"This is some great marketing!" (And great whiskey, but that's another blog post.)
On the tours, we learned that the ingredients and the process for creating bourbon vary little from distillery to distillery. "Bourbon" can be produced anywhere in the United States. So why, I wondered as I took another sip, does 97 percent of bourbon come from Kentucky?
Each of the three bourbon distilleries we visited has successfully infused their brand with a sense of place. Kentucky has unique characteristics that make it ideal for creating the finest bourbon--limestone-purified water, proximity to ample supplies of corn, an abundance of white oak trees for the aging barrels and ideal weather featuring hot summers and cold winters. The message communicated throughout our three tours was this: "Kentucky bourbon is the best, because Kentucky is the place to make the best."
What does this mean for your business?
First, think about the "place" that makes your brand unique. Perhaps it's not geographic. Maybe it's your place in the market. At The Ivy Group, we think of ourselves as operating at the intersection of strategy, message, design and technology. There are certainly other firms in our "neighborhood," but we have a specific place. And more importantly, we understand and communicate what it is.
But don't discount geography; it may be more important than you think. Back to Kentucky. Louisville is on the Ohio River, a major 19th century trade route. This strategic location is a key reason why the bourbon industry was born, and continues to flourish, in Kentucky. Reflect on why your business is located where it is. Are you close to your customers? Suppliers? Influencers? Investors? Target audiences? Government leaders? R&D? Media centers? Transportation hubs? Cosmic forces?
Take a moment to consider your brand's place in your market--geographic or otherwise--and then take a page from the bourbon distillers' playbook. Produce the best, and then tell your customers. They just might beat a path to your door. I think we can all drink to that.