How does a single SKU brand created from a 140-year-old formula create global impact through a beautifully consistent brand expression yet retain enough flexibility to engage and excite?
An innovative approach to marketing, combined with rapid geographic expansion, has made Heineken one of the most premium lager brands globally. Earlier this fall Heineken appeared on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands ranking at #92 with a healthy increase of 10 percent in brand value vs. 2012. In a dynamic environment with the constant threat of changing legislation around alcoholic beverages the Heineken brand has succeeded thanks to uncovering new ways of interacting with consumers, taking the message beyond the product to the actual brand experience.
In the physical spaces the brand owns and controls, such as the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, located on the site of its old brewery, one can experience the history of the brand and the story of its inventors told in an interactive and highly engaging way. Visitors can also experience the traditional lager making process right through to experiencing brewing first hand in a 4D simulation theatre. The entire tour is highly digitised and interactive, tapping into all five senses to deliver the ultimate experience.
Beyond this, in the world of partnerships Heineken’s movie, music and sports affiliations remain powerful enough to make even a James Bond drink Heineken instead of his signature martini in Skyfall, the most successful James Bond movie yet.
How then does a brand ensure consistency of expression yet allow enough flex to engage and excite consumers? In the case of Heineken, its core visual assets of red star, distinct green background and white typeface appear consistently. The lock-up of these core elements makes the brand instantly recognisable and memorable at any touchpoint from the visual identity for the Heineken Cup to collateral such as beer mats and coasters across global markets. These three elements are the visual DNA of the brand and in combination with these Heineken uses a set of flexible visual assets that enable creativity, expression and individuality to capture interest and engagement.
The three ingredients to the ideal brew are:
- Identify the core visual elements that form the DNA of the brand
- Mix in the right flexible assets that generate interest and excitement
- Use a heady combination of fixed and flexible assets to deliver the ideal brand experience
Uttara Masting is Associate Director, Strategy for Interbrand London.