When Edmund McIlhenny began making TABASCO® Sauce in 1868, the United States was still recovering from the Civil War. Five generations later, their sauces are sold in over 185 countries and territories. The basic recipe remains mostly unchanged. However, McIlhenny Company’s marketing and distribution strategy evolved to include a global network of partners managed by a small team on Avery Island, Louisiana.
Loss of brand flavor
McIlhenny Company, maker of TABASCO® Sauce, is a heritage company with a valuable and iconic brand identity. Its visual assets and messaging are managed by a small international sales and marketing team. They work with a network of distribution partners to market products to a global audience.
These partners are experts at marketing and distributing products in their regions. To reach the world, they are essential. However, without enough guidance, their work didn’t always support the overall brand identity and strategy. Junior International Brand Manager, Hailey Russo, says, “Our distributors were holding the keys to our brand, and they were doing a great job in their markets, but we weren’t creating a consistent global brand experience.”
Policing and supporting the work of global partners was a challenge. Cultural differences between regions and a lack of established brand guidelines allowed unwanted variation. Lack of centralized access to approved visual assets often made it easier for partners to grab outdated and incorrect images from the internet.
The most consistently vexing problem involved the most important element of TABASCO® Brand’s identity – the diamond-shaped logo. Russo says the biggest frustration was “seeing that dang wrong logo everywhere.” It popped up in marketing campaigns across the globe.
Erica Rudy, a Creative Director at McIlhenny Company’s agency partner, 77 Ventures, was tasked with finding a solution. Rudy says, “When Tabasco came to us they asked, ‘How can you help us bring more consistency to our brand across 100-plus countries? Our team immediately thought of digital asset management.”
A recipe for consistency
The international team’s main goal was to bring consistency to the brand around the globe. They had the advantage of nearly unparalleled brand recognition and a network of independent partners with deep knowledge of their markets. McIlhenny Company needed to protect 150 years of hard-earned brand recognition while giving local distributors the freedom to adapt and localize. This objective was guided by an internal motto, “Inspired, not required.”
Rudy believed a centralized platform that could serve the brand’s global distributors would allow localization with consistency. There would be no excuse for using whatever popped up on Google if approved creative assets were available anytime and easy to access. She recommended they search for a platform where brand guidelines and searchable assets could be hosted along with examples of best-practices to encourage consistency.
At the time, Webdam had just launched a new product, Brand Connect. It was exactly what their team was looking for. Brand Connect centralizes approved content with updatable brand guidelines and features distribution controls, easy-to-build portals for creative content and adaptable templates. Brands can showcase assets in an intuitive and visually engaging format.
Flavoring the world
Rudy says, “when we looked at it we thought, ‘Holy cow, this is the future.’ This is a really powerful tool because it’s so intuitive.” 77 Ventures was able to get everything up and launched in four weeks, including new brand guidelines.
Incorrect logo use became a non-issue almost immediately and email requests plummeted. Rudy says, “Brand Connect helped McIlhenny Company reduce them by hosting the digital assets partners needed most from the launch.”
With time freed up, the creative team was able to get proactive. They started sending a “portal push” email each month announcing new content and tool kits featuring fresh creative assets like delicious food photography. They also provide guidelines for brand messaging on social media. The effect on brand consistency was dramatic. Hailey says, “Webdam has taken our business and our strategy to the next level.”
McIlhenny Company Executive Vice President Harold Osborn told 77 Ventures Creative, “This just revolutionized our business. Absolutely. Without a doubt.” Thanks to Webdam and Brand Connect, McIlhenny Company is finally able to control its brand experience everywhere their red-capped bottle is sold. And no one has to look at that dang wrong logo anymore.
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