Branding with the Brand Manager

Branding with the Brand Manager

Kirsty Mackinnon, our Brand Manager here at Wemyss Malts, has kindly set aside some time to talk to us about her brand, her ideas and how she's personalised it to her tastes and thoughts. We ran through a few questions with her earlier in the week!

What was the state of the brand when you first joined?

The brand was in a healthy place but in order to adapt for the future, I think we were all aware that changes had to happen. My predecessor had already done a lot of research into what needed to happen and we were set on our trajectory - a new bottle, refreshed messaging and portfolio cohesion. It was the implementation of this where I came in and I was set on continuing this momentum into a physical change.

What were your first steps?

I was really keen on unpacking the brand and really delving into what made it special. I defined the master brand - that is Wemyss Malts as an umbrella - and really gave that a guideline. We decided on black and gold and a minimalist overlook, and as curator's of vivid expressions we thought this gave the brand the most versatility for the next stage.

This involved creating individuality for the 3 strands of the brand: Core Collection, Limited Editions and Single Casks. These are all integral parts of the larger master brand but need their own stage. So for the Core we strove for a more vivid appearance than the old branding with a real emphasis on the expression itself. The Limited Editions are heavily influenced by their maturation so take inspiration from the cask - for example, Nectar Grove has been aged in ex-Madeira Wine Casks so has a Mediterranean backing hence the sunset boulevard feel. Whereas the Single Casks, being the pinnacle of what we offer at Wemyss Malts, have an ultra premium scent.

Where did your inspiration stem from for these changes?

So I really wanted to create an evocative experience for the customer and of course this comes through the appearance first and foremost. I love the process of naming, I think so much can be absorbed about a product simply from hearing what it's called. Creating an idiom approach, a scenario based naming standard, I feel has really elevated the product. You don't want the elegance of whisky to be clouded by complication so a simple, stripped back premium appearance suits our liquid the best.

What excites you about the brand?

This may seem like a cheap answer but the Core Collection is really special. We are one of the only brands I can think of that curates their own blend from start to finish, and all in-house. Our Production Direction Isabella Wemyss is quite the master blender. She has sourced barrels of whisky, stored them, kept an eye on them and used her experience in the industry and blending more generally, to know when the time is right to use them. All three expressions are special, and I really want to tackle the stigma around blends and tease people into appreciating the liquid for what it is - balanced, complex, unpatronizing and award winning.

I am also really excited about the evolution of Lord Elcho that is in the pipeline at the moment. We have a new bottle mould coming and refreshed messaging. I feel it is the other strand of the business that occasionally goes under the radar - both at our end and the customer's. For this reason, I wanted to give it a bit of a spotlight and some attention. I mean, it's a 40% malt content blended scotch. That's high, very high, in the industry so I think the customer really needs to know that and realise the potential it has as a spirit.

And finally, what do you love most about the brand?

I love the control I have over this brand: the freedoms and the trust that have been given to me by the Wemyss Family. I have been told to crack on and grow the business in the most exciting way possible and that is what I intend to do. The potential for this company in terms of growth and outreach can be massive and I am excited by that -  the prospect of change, adaptability and freedom. Whisky, after all, is about selling an experience, and engaging the customer in that is a really fun, exciting and challenging career!

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