When It Comes To Repositioning An Established Brand, Guinness Leads The Way

Think Guinness and you might see Six Nations rugby, groups of lads competing to ‘split the G’, or an old man in the pub, dog by his feet and newspaper in hand, sipping on a pint of the black stuff by an open fire.

Whilst all those examples may still be accurate, you can add a new demographic to the mix. According to Diageo’s Chief Executive, there has been a 24% rise in women drinking Guinness in Britain, thanks in part to a series of high-profile drinkers in the form of Kim Kardashian and Kate Middleton.

Yes, lucking out and having Kim photographed clearly enjoying your product will help brand visibility and sales no end, but it comes as part of a wider, successful marketing campaign that is helping Guinness shrug off its ‘intimidating’ image of being a drink reserved for “rugby lad culture’.

As most of us will know, Guinness has well and truly cemented itself in 2024 pop culture, from the virality of The Devonshire pub to the (in)famous Instagram account Shit London Guinness that captures terribly poured pints of the stout in our capital and beyond.

But how has it captured the zeitgeist and how can other brands pivot and reposition themselves?

It all starts with an audit and a clear set of objectives. Before you go about positioning your brand in front of a new demographic, first you need to understand who your existing demographic is. Guinness is a legacy brand, a drink that has been drunk since the 1700s. Its logo and appearance is recognisable the world over, but it was that recognition and history that contributed to its previous reputation as the drink of choice of the aforementioned old man and his dog. Since 2018, the brand embarked on a strategy to pivot and instead become the drink of choice for younger audiences, whilst still staying true to its values and heritage.

A key way in which they’ve managed to achieve that objective is through social media, not just by launching a strategy to engage that demographic, but using social listening to better understand audience habits around drinking: the context they drink within, why they choose Guinness, where they drink Guinness and who with. Finding out these attitudes and habits can go a very long way to painting a clear picture of your target audience, which can then fuel your social media, PR and Digital strategies. In Guinness’s case, this meant re-establishing the type of content they produce, moving towards a more trend-led approach characterised by UGC,  pop culture and a more casual tone of voice. It also meant a dedicated influencer strategy that encouraged challenges and placed the iconic Harp front and centre of content.

If you’re considering what that repositioning looks like for your brand, considering your presence on social media and how you identify and engage your new target audience is a vital step. Don’t just focus on platform presence and content though; consider the likes of paid social and influencer marketing to better engage your core communities and understand how you can reach them in a more succinct way.

It isn’t just about social media however, alignment with PR and Digital strategies is key, ensuring brand consistency and a narrative that stretches from social to site to media and broadcast. Focussing on just one of those pillars could mean that your repositioning comes unstuck. Your repositioning strategy needs to be adaptive to all channel and draw in experts across all those fields to ensure best-in-class execution. That’s exactly what we do at PHA, where we approach strategies with a cross-departmental team to ensure an integrated strategy that captures a key audience across the landscape. For Guinness, a good example of this is their cinematic, stylish Digital ads that encompass everything from St. Patrick’s Day to rugby to recipe books.

Guinness and Diageo’s resource and brand currency meant it had the ability to pivot quick and swiftly establish themselves within a new demographic, but don’t let that be an obstacle for your brand. A brand repositioning is a long-term process that requires definition, intent and the means in which to execute it cross-channel, but it need not be budget-busting.

If you are considering repositioning your brand or would like to discuss our wider social media services get in touch today.

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