Brand Mysticism: How are Viral Brands Created?
In a single week back in 1999, Steven Grasse created both Hendrick’s Gin and Sailor Jerry Rum. Today, both are at or near the top of their respective spirits categories and Grasse is the highest paid branding consultant in the entire alcohol industry. With his Philadelphia ad agency Quaker City Mercantile as well as his New Hampshire-based distillery, Tamworth Distilling, he continues to create some of the most beloved, viral, and enduring alcohol brands in the world. He does this by practicing what he calls “Brand Mysticism,” creating worlds every bit as complex as those in literature, cinema, or music. Instead of the intentional minimalism of many of today’s buzzy brands, Brand Mysticism is deliberately layered and complex. Instead of relentless logic and stark simplicity, Brand Mysticism is intricate and purposefully beguiling, esoteric, and puzzling. Like the works of JRR Tolkien, Jules Verne, or David Bowie, Brand Mysticism conjures worlds that are multi-dimensional, offering new discoveries the more and more you peel them back. The overall goal of Brand Mysticism is to create brands that go viral, garner a cult following, and eventually become famous, all without the support of traditional advertising. Along with Grasse, other practitioners of the craft will speak.
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