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3 alcohol brands with a killer visual identity on Instagram

February 24, 2020

We’ve said it elsewhere and we’ll say it here: social media and alcohol go hand in hand.

Brand managers for alcohol companies understand the importance of getting their brand’s personality across on social to Gen Y and especially to Gen Z audiences. They know that conveying identity visually is critical to winning over attention-challenged consumers. And despite its shifting aesthetic, Instagram is still the go-to platform for visual content.

If you’re skeptical, check out these numbers published in Rival IQ’s social media report* for top brands in the alcohol industry.

“Here’s the tl;dr:
Average alcohol engagement rate for Facebook: 0.14%
Average alcohol engagement rate for Instagram: 1.53%
Average alcohol engagement rate for Twitter: 0.08%”

See those engagement rates? That’s no joke.

Here are some more compelling stats from the report:

“The average engagement rate [on Instagram] for beer, wine, and liquor brands was 1.53%. Brands in the top 20th percentile for engagement saw an engagement rate of 2.85%, or about 1.8x the average. The average boozy brand posted 2-3 times a week on Instagram, and the most active 20% of brands posted 6 or more times per week.”

Keep reading to see how three of today’s leading spirits brands are  using visual content to stay top of mind with their fans – and to attract new ones. We analyzed the 25 most recent posts for each brand to see what worked for each and why.

Smirnoff

Smirnoff is full of sass and their Instagram account does a great job of getting that across, much to the delight of their fans. Cleverly curated product shots in humorous settings are a staple of their feed, alongside content promoting their collaboration with the hit reality television show, The Bachelor.

With a total following of 203,000 on Instagram, Smirnoff has generated over 75,000 likes from their last 25 posts.
9 videos generated: 65,562 likes
16 photos generated: 10,025 likes

Video outpeforms photos by a longshot when it comes to reach. That should surprise no one. But what’s interesting is that Smirnoff uses a deceptively simple format that’s just a few seconds long, yet still keeps their engagement consistently high.

For example, this short video below has racked up 35,000 likes so far – that’s an engagement rate of 17%! Like most of their videos, it shows easy ways to enjoy their product such as infusing a whole orange with vodka and then serving up spiked slices. The funny comment helps too: “When you’re trying to eat more fruit in 2020 but still drink Smirnoff.”

View this post on Instagram

When you’re trying to eat more fruit in 2020 but still drink Smirnoff.

A post shared by Smirnoff (@smirnoffus) on

Why it works:

Smirnoff’s videos are just a few seconds long and easy to produce. Nothing fancy. But by keeping their video content practical and showing simple ways of serving up Smirnoff, they manage to consistenty produce videos that get great engagement and more than make up for their minimal investment.

Aperol Spritz

Aperol is best known for its eponymous iconic cocktail, the Aperol Spritz. According to Insider Magazine, (and despite this New York Times article denouncing the drink) it was the ninth best-selling cocktail in the world for 2019, making the top 10 for the first time because of its popularity at 30% of the world’s best bars.

The bittersweet orange aperitif is all about sophisticated fun, and that’s exactly what you’ll find on the brand’s Instagram, conveyed in several distinct visual content themes:

  • Atmosphere shots featuring social gatherings and flirty scenes
  • Product shots with patterned backgrounds featuring finger food to pair with your Spritz
  • Centennial celebrations honoring the brand’s Italian origins
  • Aperol’s Graphic Novel project, the “Orange Chronicles”
  • “Perfect aperatif” moments interpreted by different artists

With a total following of 76,700 on Instagram, Aperol has generated an impressive 98,300 likes from their last 25 posts.
4 videos generated: 76,316 likes
21 photos generated: 22,008 likes

Unsurprisingly, Aperol also saw higher engagement with video over photos. But unlike Smirnoff, their most successful videos involved major production efforts such as this one, which has amassed 30,579 likes to date with over 40% engagement.

Why it works:

As a brand, Aperol is grounded in several striking elements such as its bright orange hue and classic Italian aesthetic. These give it a distinctly coherent and highly memorable visual identity that is perfectly suited to Instagram.

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Many top shelf whiskey brands take a similar approach to their Instagram, focusing on product shots that convey premium quality. On the surface, Jameson starts out in a similar vein. But you only have to engage with their feed for a few seconds to see how they’ve taken a sharp left turn to create content that’s fun, funny, and visually intriguing in a way that’s wholly their own.

One visual theme they do very well is incorporating bottles of Jameson in amusing visual shots – the kind that pique just enough interest to get you to click through and discover the gag. It’s one of the reasons Jameson’s posts get an average 3.7% engagement, while industry averages hover at 1.53%.

Check out these posts:
Here
Here
And Here
To see what we mean by amusing 😉

This single 3-second video introducing Jameson Cold Brew has gotten over 26,000 likes, showing the exponential appeal you can get by successfully combining two popular product categories!

View this post on Instagram

Meet our new brew #JamesonColdBrew

A post shared by Jameson Irish Whiskey (@jamesonwhiskey) on

With a total following of 134,000 on Instagram, Jameson has gained 124,382 likes from their last 25 posts.
8 videos generated: 83,934 likes
17 photos generated: 40,448 likes

Why it works

Jameson relies on wit and humor to create visual concepts for their Instagram that are engaging, scalable enough to post daily, and totally on-brand. They build on the visual identity that is commonly used for top shelf whiskey brands and infuse it with their very own Jameson DNA. Clearly, Jameson fans love them for it.

The bottom line

A strong visual identity on social media is only going to get more valuable for alcohol brands. Those who have theirs figured out and manage to consistently create visual content to support it will find themselves ahead of the curve.  Those who haven’t can catch up  with the right tools and a clear understanding of why audiences find them appealing. Even scrappy efforts can yield impressive results.

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