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Guinness: What We Can Learn from Britain's Most Popular Pint

A nice cold glass of stout

At Tonic, we're always on the lookout for inspiration from successful brands. And who better to learn from than one of the UK's most iconic brands: Guinness?

Guinness and advertising are synonymous. From the Toucan to the surfers to the famous slogans, the brand's iconic ads are instantly recognizable. But for 170 years, Guinness didn't advertise at all. When they finally did start advertising in 1929, they had one simple rule: the quality of the advertising must match the quality of the product. Simple, but effective.

Screenshot 2023-06-01 at 11.25.38

Earlier this year, Guinness became Britain's most popular pint for the first time in its 264-year history. Not bad for an Irish brand!

So, what can we learn from Guinness's success? Here are a few key principles:

  1. Listen, listen, and listen again. Guinness was one of the first brands to invest in consumer listening. They understand the importance of understanding their audience in any communication. For any employer brand to be effective, we need to understand our audience in detail, not just what they want from a job, but who they are. Their motivations and behaviours.
  2. Be distinctive. Don't be afraid to be different. When everyone else was making ale, Arthur Guinness decided to make stout. Every company is different, and we shouldn't shy away from that.
  3. Have clear and consistent brand pillars. Define what you stand for and the pillars of your proposition. Guinness has kept these consistent for nearly 40 years. This will build resonance and engagement with your audiences. Don't change them every two years.
  4. Be flexible in how you apply your brand. Our audience's needs and wants will be different. Therefore, how we communicate our pillars to them will be different. A truly global campaign will be flexible in how it's applied locally, building off the same pillars.
  5. Focus on a handful of metrics. We have a tendency to overcomplicate our metrics. Like Guinness, take a handful of short-term and long-term objectives that will drive real business impact. This way, your efforts will be more focused.
  6. Learn and iterate. Nobody gets it right all of the time. The first thing Guinness does when thinking of a new campaign is to look at the last one and learn. Not just the negatives, but the positives as well. Keep learning and optimizing.

These are six simple principles that we can apply to our employer branding efforts to truly create a brand that is human-centric and stands out from the crowd.

We'd love to chat with you over a pint of Guinness (other drinks are available) about all things brand.

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Guinness: What We Can Learn from Britain's Most Popular Pint

About Author

Fergus O'Connell
Fergus O'Connell

Head of Brand & Insight. Sportsman. Irishman. Lover of Guinness.

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