My friend Hugh Macleod is about embark on his world marketing tour for Stormhoek Wine, which will feature his brilliant cartoons on its labels. The following is a draft of a “Branding Exercise” that he says tries “to nail down in writing what the Stormhoek brand represents and stands for. I think it contains brilliant advice for any business that wants to chart new courses.
I love 3, 8 and 9 the most.
1. We’re a small South African vineyard. We make the best South African wine for the money, end of story.
2. We believe in punching above our weight. In this regard, we’ve been pretty fortunate. We’re known for trying out relatively “out there” marketing ideas. We do that for a reason. When you are a small company in a relatively isolated part of the word, thousands of miles away from your main customer base, you frankly have no other choice.
3. We believe that even a small company like ours can change the world, even in a small way. Why shouldn’t a small wine company in South Africa see large international companies like Google and Microsoft as their competition? Why should the battle only be confined to other small South African vineyards? It makes no sense.
4. “It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.” There’s more to life than wine. Sure, we love wine, we love making it, but it’s a big world out there. We try to make allies not just with other wine geeks, but with other interesting people trying to do amazing things. This is why we’re so drawn to the internet. That’s where passionate people invariably head for.
5. On one level, we take ourselves very seriously. On another level, we try to keep a sense of humor about it all. We try to “keep it real”, which is another way of saying, we try to keep it interesting, as much for ourselves as anyone else.
6. We believe the wine business can use a good kick in the pants. We certainly try to do our part. Burying oneself in the usual blanket of wine clichés to us is not a viable marketing strategy. With hundreds of thousands of vineyards out there, and only so many distribution channels available, you face two stark choices: Either rise above the clutter, or face a lifetime of misery and woe.
7. We live in extremely interesting times. The internet has changed everything. Our story is proof of that. Get with the program or reconcile yourself to entrepreneurial oblivion.
8. It’s just wine, People. Sure, we make excellent product. But let’s not get too carried away. At the end of the day, even the best Bordeaux is just fermented grape juice. What’s more interesting to us is the conversations people have over a bottle of wine. There’s a human element to all this we find utterly mysterious and fascinating.
9. You only live once, and not for very long. Try to make a difference while you’re here. It isn’t just about the money, and it sure as heck isn’t about making “a good product at a good price”. It’s about doing something that matters. It’s about doing something that resonates with both yourself and the people you care about.
10. We humans are incredible beings. Doing something that continually reminds us of this simple, basic truth is where the real fun is.