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UK Insights

How do brands tell a Scottishness story, when consumers are the authors?

Lyndsay Kelly

Project Manager, The Cultural Practice

Social 29.11.2017 / 17:00

Scotland flag

Kantar Added Value assessed three Scottish brands to see how people are connecting with their brand and embedding them into their own stories.

Increasingly, people are spending time creating their own stories, capturing and curating their lives through photos, and sharing them on social media. For people to want to use brands in their own stories, brands must be rich in meaning and culturally relevant to their lives. They also need to be distinctive, sharp and loud in order for people to hear, engage and remember a brand story. The brands that are woven into consumer stories are creating deep rich connections with their consumers. By connecting with culture, brands deliver the raw materials for people to tell their own stories. But what makes people want to tell a story with your brand?

We explored three Scottish brands to understand how they are telling relevant stories about Scottishness and see how consumers are connected with them, and reflecting these brand stories back, to help them tell their own stories around what it means to be Scottish. 


Looking at Talisker, through its activations across multiple touch points, from its packaging and Instagram to immersive events creating storms in the middle of London, we saw that it had created a distinct code of Scottishness across all its marketing platforms. It brought to life the wild, raw untameable nature of Skye and its storms, which is at the heart of the whisky. And when we looked at the user-generated content people were sharing under the hashtag #talisker, clearly the brand’s story resonated with consumers.

We analysed over 1000 images with the #talisker storm. Of course, there are the odd images of people having a dram in a bar, but many of the consumer-generated pictures we found reflected the story of Talisker set up by the brand. Images brought to life the raw, untameable nature of the brand, even using filters to exaggerate the moody, misty aesthetic. The brand gave consumers all the right tools to create really coherent stories, stories that the brand would be proud to see reflected in social media.


Next we looked at Drambuie, who is shifting away from the Scottish landscape where it is made to its story as an iconic prohibition drink, one which fuelled speakeasy music culture both here and in the States. Bringing this story right up to date, Drambuie positions itself around underground jazz music and activates a clear consistent story across the globe, projecting a story of culture and musical delight. Again, this clear distinctive story resonates with the people it serves and has been effectively woven into consumer-generated content, amplifying the brand story.

But even the most inspiring brand positioning can struggle to be picked up in a relevant way by their consumers. You can’t control the stories people tell. If you want people to share stories about your brand, you need to give them the right tools.


We found this when looking at Highland Park. Its story was rich and distinct – bringing to life the dark, strong magical nature of the Orkney Islands. But when we looked at social media, this story was not generally reflected back by consumers. What we saw was a fairly generic picture of wild wet Scotland.

This suggests to us that although the positioning was distinct, it was not always relevant to the people it serves, as they were not really weaving the Highland Park story into their own. In a crowded noisy world, Highland Park could perhaps be ‘louder’ about its story across more touch points.

Brands can no longer behave like they used to. They must be nimble, responsive and constantly evolving to stay connected.

So what we learn is that your consumers are an incredibly powerful marketing tool. Their reach is unbelievable. In order to harness this, you must tell culturally relevant, aspirational stories which they want to weave into their own.

Although you do not have total control over what your consumers post about you on social media, you can guide them in the right direction through your communications. Ask yourself – what stories are you telling the people you serve that are culturally relevant and aspirational? Are they stories they can weave into their own?

By unpicking the stories people tell around your brands, you can understand your earned equity today and how culturally vibrant you are. This will help you to sharpen your proposition and transform your communications and activations to ensure consumers are telling the stories you want them to tell.

Source : Kantar Added Value

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