Brief #115: How to build a killer brand  🔪

Welcome to Future of Marketing.

Each week, we send you the most relevant trends, resources, and strategies in social and user-generated content (UGC) from leading marketers and brands around the globe. 

What does it take for today’s brands to stand out in a crowded market? 

Sometimes it feels like most brands sound the same… look the same… behave the same. Perhaps, it’s because we, as marketers, are afraid to experiment or cross the wrong line – and instead, choose proven frameworks to avoid failure. 

But there are a rare few who disrupt the status quo (and do it well). 

Let’s break down this week’s #BrandCrush: 

Liquid Death 💘

The punk-rock water brand that wants to “murder your thirst.” 


Liquid Death initially gained traction when founder Mike Cessario shared a promo video before they even had a product.

“We launched on social long before we ever had a real product. Cut to three or four months later and our Facebook page has more followers than Aquafina and our marketing video has three million views.”

Liquid Death founder, Mike Cessario.

Long story short…

This brand mastered the art of creating scroll-stopping content by breaking away from the norm and staying true to who they are. 

They did the unexpected:

  1. They went against the standard, preachy tone of “wellness and aspiration” and instead, play with words like “death,” “metal,” and “murder”
  2. Their aesthetic resembles a beer brand and rock metal album covers
  3. They’re solving a real problem by selling water in a can and promoting #DeathToPlastic

They’re genuinely different – and they do a phenomenal job at extending their brand personality into everything they do. 

✨ For example… ✨ 

Authentic content > Staged product shoots

The first thing you’ll see when you visit their website isn’t a staged product photo or stock photography. It’s a video compilation of user-generated content.

A man drinking Liquid Death as he cliff dives. A woman “shotgunning” a can of Liquid Death. A little girl drinking from a beer-like can (but it’s just Liquid Death).

a little girl drinking from a beer-like can (but it’s just Liquid Death)

Why this works: People trust people more than brands. 

According to TINT’s annual State of UGC Report, ninety-three (93%) of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by customers more than content created by brands.💡

They make marketing fun: 

They have a page called “Timewaster 5000” where they share all of the “dumb things [they’ve] ever made,” including: 

A “killer” baby name generator 

5 babies with KISS-style make-up on "killer baby namer" banner

A focus group where people blind taste Liquid Water versus the most expensive beverages on Earth (like caviar).

A video of a focus group trying Liquid Water vs most expensive beverages on earth

Why this works: As the creator economy continues to grow, more brands will turn into media companies (i.e. think of employees as influencers). The reason? No one wants to feel like they’re being sold to.

If TikTok’s success has taught us anything, it’s that people want to be entertained. 

The takeaway: 

When you create awesome brand experiences, experiment, and have a little fun, you gain loyal fans and glowing testimonials along the way.

A message from a customer's daughter saying he passed away but Liquid Water made him feel like the coolest 87 year old man ever.
"5 stars and 9,007 opinions from randos" on the mountain water (12-pack)

What we’re learning


Join us for a chat with two of our favorite marketers at TINT on Wednesday, July 20th at 12pm CT. We’ll be discussing how brands can thrive in the most competitive shopping season in history.