How Liquid Death Disrupted The Beverage Industry & Built A $700M Brand By Making Water Cool
Water, a basic necessity of life, often fails to excite consumers when it comes to choosing a brand. The bottled water market, valued at a staggering $350B globally, is flooded with countless options that seem indistinguishable from one another. Whether it's sourced from different countries, still or sparkling, in a glass or green bottle, or even boxed – most bottled water brands struggle to stand out from the crowd. But that all changed with Liquid Death.
In 2017, Mike Cessario, the CEO, and founder of Liquid Death, had a revelation. What if he could make water cool? He envisioned the brand appealing to punk rock musicians and their sober fans, who were looking for a healthier alternative during concerts and tours. Cessario's background as a former creative director at Netflix and his connection to the underground music scene influenced his vision for Liquid Death.
With a limited budget for a launch campaign, Cessario had to think creatively. He invested time in crafting a recognizable brand identity and a unique name that would generate organic social sharing. He trademarked the name Liquid Death and created a 3D rendering of the can. He then made a Facebook page for the product and invested in a 2-minute commercial featuring a friend who was an actress. The result was astonishing – 3 million views and over 80,000 fans in just four months.
Liquid Death's success didn't stop there. Large investors from the entertainment scene, including Live Nation, comedian Whitney Cummings, and members of Swedish House Mafia, saw the brand's potential and injected $195M into the company. As a result, Liquid Death's valuation skyrocketed to $700M.
The brand's appeal goes beyond its cool name and edgy design. Liquid Death managed to attract diverse audiences, from Gen Z and millennials who love its fashionable image, to moms who seek a healthy alternative for their kids. This broader appeal demonstrates the power of building a brand that resonates with multiple demographics for different reasons.
Liquid Death's founder is not concerned about competing with beverage giants like the Coca-Cola Company. He believes it's hard to replicate the brand's marketing, which was ingrained from the start. Rather than just launching a product, Liquid Death was built as an entertainment and media company, focused on engaging people through humor and value.
Another critical aspect of Liquid Death's success is its commitment to a higher purpose. The brand is dead serious about killing plastic pollution. It partners with nonprofit organizations and donates 10% of its profits to help combat climate change. This cause-based mission gives consumers an extra reason to fall in love with the brand.
The story of Liquid Death is a powerful reminder that even in well-established industries, there is room for disruption and innovation. Cessario's journey from a simple idea to a $700M brand proves that a strong brand identity, engaging marketing, and a clear purpose can create lasting success.
In building your brand, remember that thinking outside the box and embracing uniqueness can set you apart from the competition. Don't be afraid to put yourself in the middle of the competition, and always remember that a brand is not just a logo or a product; it's an emotional connection with your audience. Like Liquid Death, you too can turn the mundane into something extraordinary by making your brand stand out and creating a world that resonates with your consumers.