In business, the power of having laser focus is undeniable. The brands that stand the test of time are those that have an absolute, unwavering, even obsessive vision of what they are doing, who they are and who they want to appeal to. One of those success stories is the energy drink Red Bull.
When Red Bull first launched in Austria, in 1987, it created the energy drink category. In its first year it sold 1.1 million cans and in 2015 a total of 5.957 billion cans of Red Bull were sold worldwide.
Whilst it was first to market, nothing about the ingredients or product are secret, or patented. Many, many energy drinks have attempted to follow in Red Bull’s footsteps. Many, many have failed. And interestingly Red Bull does not necessarily perform well in taste tests.
From the very beginning Red Bull had a clear brand strategy, it knew wholeheartedly that you can’t create impact by appealing to all people and that to be loved it needed to stand for something, it needed to be polarising. When a brand is properly targeted, when it stands for something that connects with the hearts of consumers it can command a price premium, and in the case of Red Bull, a can sells for far more than a can of Coca Cola.
The difference between Red Bull and many other beverages, is that where they try and sell the product, its taste, its appeal, Red Bull is actually selling an idea, and the idea is energy. It’s this idea that people connect with so powerfully, and it’s this core truth that influences all the decisions that Red Bull makes – events it’s involved in, the sponsorships it takes on and the content it produces.
Red Bull’s world is that of extreme sports, it’s the daredevils and the adrenaline junkies. Everything that Red Bull involves itself in, or produces from a content perspective, is focused in this world of extreme energy. The core of these activities is audience engagement and entertainment – there is no painfully obvious product placement, or cut to the can in between shots. There is prominent branding, on helicopters, planes, fast cars and protective clothing, but the focus is squarely on this idea of energy, and on providing real value to their audience.
Red Bull’s focus extends through its entire business model, in a way that few others businesses have had the courage to maintain. It invests in long term activities rather than short term gain, and the gains from this have been plentiful.
For a taste of some Red Bull content watch The Art of Flight Trailer – the world’s most progressive snowboarding film.