Dom Robertson knows what it takes. Not only can he tell you how to hit three stationary cars in one collision, including a board director’s, he has shipped in real snow, not from Antarctica or even Alaska – on the hottest day of the year – but Holland, and he is the owner of a pug called Agapay. As MD of RPM Global, the 1968-born worldwide consultancy company, he has stacked up a fair bank of resource on the power of branding.

In an article he penned for The Drinks Report, he talks about the luxury dream in the drinks world, the brand status symbol, and the experience it personifies. When he worked with Talisker to create a sail-in cinema, they were bringing part of the brand’s portside story to life; it’s a brand established alongside a passion for sailing. “Necessity,” he says, “is all about surviving; luxury is all about living.” A hand blown glass bottle with a crafted feel stacks a heavier punch than a mass produced bottle that lines up with the status quo of the next bottle and the next bottle and the next bottle on the shelf, all of which can’t stand out; they are chemically consistent.

Where it was a supermarket or drinks store touchpoint or eye-catcher, the luxury brand now has to stand out on the internet too. With lockdowns tighter in many areas, people are still web-searching to satisfy that need for a lavish moment, or to bring that sense of good cheer back into their home. Drinks delivered to the door is affordable luxury, and because it is a bit more cost effective than in restaurants and bars, going up a notch on the quality to get that better bottle is a no-brainer.

So, what is it all about? Definitively, the opening experience.

Consumers aren’t just swilling their glasses to watch the legs or sharing a toast in crowded, pulsing cocktail bar. They are opening that sleek, smart box with a metallic finish, running their fingers over that exquisite-shaped bottle dominated by an embossed medallion, smiling at the lucky charm that characterizes the brand, and reading the hangtag info. And the moment they pull that ribbon tear strip is almost theatrical, like the grand opening to a new drama, which it is. The senses kick in.

After the moment, there will be something to share online about the emotions that it has brought to the surface. Connections will be impressed with the connoisseur’s shared experience, one they will probably want to buy into too, to build up their own knowledge and cultural capital, be seen as intellectual in the field, and savour that same encounter in their own drinks affairs. What is to write home about the standard bottle with factory average contents? The moment will be fleeting, the sensation, if any, short. Memories will be hard to define with nothing to pin them on. After all, first impressions count.

For any established brand, it can just be the same product with a new look. Spirit artists in particular are ingenious at rooting out new editions. There is something even more impressive, more desirable about a special edition. They feel one of a limited number privileged to be included in an introduction. More than that, they want to entertain your brand story. It’s something that is expressed from the quality, colour, design and micro detail of each finishing touch on the packaging right down into the last drop of the drink itself.

Once hooked, customer loyalty is merely incidental. But that image has to be kept up, to meet their expectations. Signet don’t compromise in helping create that opening experience come to life.

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