Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
26 April 2018
Vitaminwater brand inches further way from its power
The Stealing Share process builds preference through precepts, the belief systems that drive behavior. Ever since Coca-Cola bought it 10 years ago, the Vitaminwater brand has slowly veered from its defining precept that made it such an overnight success.
The idea of “living well” comes from a precept like “you need water to live well,” which is much better than saying, “Quench your thirst.” In fact, the precept says the reason WHY thirst is important, a warning from your body.
With each new campaign, the Vitaminwater brand inches further and further from that idea. It still exists in last year’s “Drink Outside the Lines” campaign featuring actor Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”). And now the brand steps a bit further outside that line with the “sorta fit spokes guy” campaign unveiled on Instagram recently.
“Coca-Cola believes this approach positions it against Gatorade, which aligns its brand with athletes. Smart. But it misses the emotional intensity of “Drink Outside the Lines.” It becomes jokey. The Vitaminwater brand might as well hire a gecko lizard while it’s at it.”
The initial emotional intensity of the Vitaminwater brand exists in there a tiny bit but it’s an obvious appeal to the masses. That’s what happens when a global conglomerate like Coca-Cola takes over. For the brand to succeed in its eyes, it must reach the widest audience possible.
But what many companies miss is that the most powerful precepts are almost always universal. That’s what makes them powerful. They provide an emotional intensity arising from our beliefs as humans.
Vitaminwater brand feels the Coca-Cola impact
Many companies believe finding those emotional intensities means identifying the largest segment in the market and appealing to them based on demographics. That’s being half-right. (At least it’s about the customer and not the product.) But it’s only a description, not an emotional driver powering them.
This position stands akin to Planet Fitness, which markets itself as being for regular folks who don’t want to hear the grunting of steroid-infused weight lifters showing off. (Or being embarrassed to lift less than them.) But that’s basing a precept on a high emotional intensity in the market. (And positioning against brands like Gold’s Gym.)
Coca-Cola believes this approach positions it against Gatorade, which aligns its brand with athletes. Smart. But it misses the emotional intensity of “Drink Outside the Lines.” It becomes jokey. The Vitaminwater brand might as well hire a gecko lizard while it’s at it.
This is what we call brand drift. Meaning, while the brand’s emotional component exists however faintly, it’s a step away from what makes it powerful. So, don’t be surprised if the next step in the Vitaminwater brand development features a blue bear wiping its ass.
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