February 16, 2005

Excerpts: Brand Hijack - Part VI

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 2:36 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

It defines itself by its function, not its image.
Heres the big idea: Red Bull is a drink that actually does something. The company has never backed off its initial claim that the drink provides a quick boost of energy. (Note: Its up for debate whether Red Bull actually works in a unique way or not. Nutritionists argue that Coca-Colas combination of sugar and caffeine produces the same short-term effect. But thats not the point here.) This claimthe sort of thing usually confined to the over-the-counter pharmaceutical categoryis always at the heart of its marketing. Red Bull embodies energy and stimulation in everything it does.
Fundamentally, Red Bull was one of the first modern brands to turn away from an aspirational image. This was a daring maneuver considering that Mateschitz wanted to compete in the soft drink category, a place where imageparticularly a shallow aspirational imagerules. But Mateschitz didnt want to market Red Bull as just an OTC nutraceutical, either. So he set up a marketing template that showed how the drink fit into peoples lifestyles: Never let consumers forget the message that Red Bull actually works, when they need a boost.
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About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.