Creativity can sometimes lead to a branding clusterfu*%k

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Bruichladdich. I think what Jim McEwan and team have done to bring back this distillery over the past decade and bring a new sense of innovation to Islay is nothing short of fantastic. In fact, I wrote this glowing recap of a tasting event with Jim late last year.

But as a marketing-minded person, I must put forth my perspective that I am ultimately confused by the Bruichladdich identity. I can certainly respect their creativity and drive for innovation, but let’s get real – their products are all over the map. The only sense in the chaos are a few specific brands they have developed over recent years such as the Port Charlotte series, the Black Art series and the Octomore series. But the bevy of releases that get pumped out of the factory at breakneck speed is nearly impossible to keep track of.


Seriously, go look on Bruichladdich’s website. They are currently advertising 35 releases.

As an additional point of confusion, Bruichladdich is an Islay distillery that produces both peated and un-peated Scotch. So when you’re already sitting on dozens of releases that, in many cases, make little sense on their own, and then you throw into the mix the additional aspect that they may or may not be peated, you’ve created a recipe for complete and utter consumer confusion.


On the 2011 Web Launch Limited Edition Renaissance release... And I quote: "The second of a brace of bottlings to mark the aquisition and re-birth of Bruichladdich distillery. Our manifesto for the future." - Oh right, it's THAT kind of whisky.


The point of this post is not to rant. I’m just trying to make a simple point and ask a simple question. Bruichladdich is a cool distillery. I like the look and feel of their brand. I like their products. They make solid juice. But why complicate things? When I saw Jim McEwan speak, he talked about beauty in simplicity. While their products may be simple, natural, distillations of pure vision… their product line is anything but.

I’m curious what you think. Are you intrigued by the range of choice and option or are you confused and frustrated by how hard Bruichladdich makes it to understand their products? And, perhaps more importantly, do you think Bruichladdich’s approach is innovative or just a branding clusterf*%k?