SABMiller Case Study: distilling beer down to its most inspiring essence

18 Oct 2009|Added Value

A clear, strong and differentiated positioning executed in an inspiring way is what makes a brand unique and memorable.

But just as scholars argue there are only really seven types of story in the world (think tragedy, comedy and rags to riches) we discovered that in most categories there are a finite number of positioning territories being used.

We conducted an in-depth semiotic analysis of 80 beer brands from 24 countries across the world watching around 1500 beer commercials. Thirsty work!

The semiotic approach enabled us to distil the world of beer down to its ten key narratives but also to pull out the key visual and verbal signifiers, archetypal personalities and product attributes used to express each of these territories.

Understanding and mapping these territories creates an instant point of reference and shared language within an organisation, pretty much essential when, like SABMiller, you are dealing with literally hundreds of brands in the same category.

The map is no substitute for careful and rigorous brand positioning and portfolio planning but for SABMiller it provides a starting point for these conversations that is both solid and easy to understand but also intuitive and inspiring.

Working closely with a SABMiller steering committee meant that the final map was recognised as something that was true to the analysis but also simple and intuitive enough to gain instant traction within the organisation.

The Compass 2+ map was created into a digital tool that enables team members across the globe to browse the world of beer and watch the crème de la crème of beer advertising from the most successful global and local brands organised into ten positioning territories.

The tool gives instant access to inspiration and enables team members to assess their creative execution, analyse that of competitors and make the most of global knowledge within the organisation from China to Colombia.

How did we Add Value?
We took the world of beer in all its hoppy, refreshing, ice cold, sociable glory and used the power of semiotics to distil it down to its most inspiring core essence. The result of the work, the Compass 2+ digital tool, is now used across SABMiller globally as an essential piece of inspiration built into positioning discussions and portfolio planning.

What did the client say?
“To have distilled and synthesised such a large selection of communication into something that is both simple enough to be actionable yet distilled enough to give real texture, is a work of genius.”  Charlie Hiscocks, SABMiller

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