The Johnnie Walker Brand of blended scotch has a long and diverse history of bold marketing decisions. All the way back in1860 John Walker’s son, Alexander Walker, decided to take his father’s blended scotch brand global.
Alexander’s first marketing choice? He made the bottles square, something that was unheard of for alcohol bottles at that time. His reasoning was that it would make the bottle stand out amongst its counterparts, plus you could fit more bottles on the shelf for display. His other atypical branding choice was to apply the label to the bottles at a 24-degree angle. Again, this would make the bottle stand out on the shelf, as well as allow you to see more information on one side of the label.
The branding techniques Alexander chose to implement in the 1860s may not seem very dramatic compared to today’s marketing tactics. But at the time, creating a brand via bold packaging and marketing choices was a new idea. Alexander Walker had a vision for his father’s brand, and he was a pioneer for modern branding and marketing.
Johnnie Walker’s trademarked “Striding Man” logo started as a sketch on the back of a napkin in 1908. Like all good logos, the Striding Man has evolved to keep up with modern design trends. In 2000, the striding logo inspired the company’s new tagline, “Keep Walking.” As part of a “rebrand” (which can barely be called a rebrand), Johnny Walker made a slight change and switched the logo to face to the right! To an outsider, the idea of switching the direction of a walking logo may seem insignificant, but the idea behind changing the direction of the logo was to emphasize that the logo was moving forward, on a new path towards progress and the fulfillment of personal goals.
“Keep Walking” Around the World
The “Keep Walking” campaign was well received worldwide, and became a globally unified theme for a “call-to-action.” The “Walking Man” logo was viewed as a symbol of prestige and arrival, associated with the feeling of aspiration. The Johnnie Walker brand has significant data to support their claim that this message engages customers around the entire globe. The “Keep Walking” campaign has elicited lots of responses from people around the globe, from engaging social interaction online to planting the seeds of protests in Brazil.
The “Next Step”
The latest leg of the “Keep Walking” campaign is the “Next Step” campaign, where Johnnie Walker marketers hope to align with current events so consumers can view the news through the lens of the Walker campaign. For example, Johnnie Walker ran a print ad in The New York Times alongside election content. Johnnie Walker wants to be identified with current cultural events that people are passionate about.
“Walking” in Social Media
Johnnie Walker places significant value on engagement via social media platforms. They generate social engagement using a personal touch, giving their brand a relaxed and personal feeling. Walker uses each of its social platforms to support one another, helping to recruit and generate a greater following on each platform. The Walker brand uses social to amplify the “Keep Walking” campaign content by acting as a support system for new consumers, and by enabling current consumers to act as brand advocates.
The key takeaways from Johnnie Walker’s long and successful past of brand building are: don’t be afraid to walk your own path, elicit a call to action in your customers, and make your brand approachable on social media platforms. It is imperative to have a unique brand voice if you want to stand out. Don’t be afraid to follow in the footsteps of the “Striding Man.”