What Red Bull Can Teach You About Effective Branding

Red Bull did the seemingly impossible.

Founder Dietrich Mateschitz started from practically nowhere in the mid-1990s to become the only successful new entrant into the soft drinks market for more than a generation, baffling experts in the process.

Red Bull grew its sales from six to 300 million cans between 1996 and 2006.

It makes for the perfect case study to examine, piecing their story together and learning lessons from their successes in branding.


Of course, Red Bull isn’t the only company to try to enter the soft drinks market. Virgin attempted to do the same with its brand of cola 20 years ago.

But despite having the genius entrepreneurial backing of Founder and CEO Sir Richard Branson and a well-established marketing and logistics infrastructure, the company wasn’t able to break the market.

It’s competitors, the Coca-Cola Corporation and PepsiCo, continue to dominate to this day.

Although Red Bull’s target market was more open than the cola market — it was making energy drinks rather than direct Coca-Cola substitutes.

Today, it’s still lauded as a shining example of what is achievable in competitive markets on a small budget.

Red Bull showed that it was possible to enter the energy drinks market — just like Elon Musk demonstrated that it was possible to get into the automobile market and win with Tesla Motors.

Before long, others followed with energy drinks (Monster, Rockstar, NOS, AMP, etc.) and a whole new segment of the market was born.

For marketing companies, like AMW Group, none of Red Bull’s success is surprising in hindsight. The company essentially did what many modern marketing gurus today would recommend: forget about the product, just do something interesting and it’ll advertise itself.

For small business owners and entrepreneurs, this sort of thing might seem counterintuitive, but in the case of Red Bull, it worked.

Remember, Red Bull’s core product was little more than a fizzy cup of coffee in a can. The company knew that if it was going to get recognition, it had to go beyond the drinks and sell something else: an idea of what it meant to be a customer of Red Bull.

Red Bull decided that to make a name for itself, it had to literally give itself “wings” and so it started putting its branding all over extreme sports, including the spoilers of Formula One (F1) cars.

This set off a chain of events in the minds of its consumers and admirers (followers).

People witnessed stunning acts of heroism, like the best pilots flying planes around obstacle courses, jumping off mountains in wing suits, and smashing up against the crash barriers at the Monte Carlo race course.

They then associated the brand with incredible feat of athleticism, daredevilism, and fearlessness. This, in turn became associated with the drinks themselves.

Red Bull’s product was a shortcut — a quick fix — to achieve the same level of concentration and ability required to do what their favorite daredevils were doing in competitions, on TV and across the web.

If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s worth taking some time to do what Red Bull did.

First, think about the psychology of your target market/audience. Ask yourself, what is it that they really want? Is it the product itself? Or is it something more fundamental than that like an experience and a lifestyle?

If you get the formula right, like Red Bull did, you stand to make a lot of money.

Fun Fact: Founder Dietrich Mateschitz has led by example, learning to fly classic airplanes and even encouraging his employees (10,997) to do the same.

Entrepreneurs Have To Climb A “Wall Of Worry” Before They Make It To The Top

Financial investors know all too well about climbing the “wall of worry.” Stocks keep rising and investors keep spending, even when the fundamentals are weak. Entrepreneurs have to climb their own wall of worry. But their wall is an entirely different animal to your wall. For an entrepreneur, the fear is at the center of everything that they do.

Take Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, for instance. Musk is often asked how he manages to make such daring decisions with vast sums of money. eBay acquired PayPal in October 2002 [for $1.5 billion in stock], earning Musk $165 million. But instead of going and spending the rest of his life on a beach, he reinvested it in two risky business ventures. One of those ventures was an electric car company – madness back in 2004. And the other was a space company – again, complete madness. Commentators assumed that Musk must be made of sterner stuff. He must just have an affinity for taking risks. But in interviews, Musk frequently talks about his intense fear of the unknown and how he nearly lost it all. The moral of the story? Taking risks is difficult, even for the best entrepreneurs in the world.

Here, we’re going to look at some of the major fears held by entrepreneurs and what they can do about them.

Image Credit: Flickr
Not Knowing How To Start

Entrepreneurs tend to have great ideas. But the difficulty in entrepreneurship isn’t the idea itself: it’s getting to the final destination. Most entrepreneurs don’t have a clue how to even begin, even if they’re masters of their own product. Here’s a tip: start by looking for local business groups in your area. Sometimes the local government will put on free seminars for startups. And often, business banks will put you in contact with networks and network events where you can find mentors. Find somebody else who did it, and get them to set you off in the right direction.

Not Earning Enough To Keep Cash Flow Positive
Image Credit: Pixabay

The irony of startups is that they have to spend money like mad while not getting any money in. Marketing, SEO, insurance: it all costs a small fortune. Often the problem is the gap between selling the service and getting the payment. Startups don’t usually have their own credit card reader. Instead, they have to wait days, even weeks, for money to come through via invoice. In the meantime, they can often dip very close to the red.

This is a perennial problem of running a startup, and there aren’t any hard and fast solutions. The best approach here is probably to focus on your own wellbeing so you can continue to drive the business forward. Grab a mentor, and get their emotional support to see you through, even if it all ends in financial ruin.

Not Attracting Customers

The first few weeks and months of running a startup can be a lonely experience. There you are, spending all this time and money on building a business, and the phone is silent. After a few weeks go by, you start wondering whether anybody is ever going to ring.

The trick here is patience and an infectious enthusiasm for what you’re doing. Consistently delivering your business’s message through multiple channels is what will win the day.

Tesla Launches the Electric Car We’ve All Been Waiting For! Meet the Model 3!

Elon Musk (Tesla Motors, Space X, SolarCity, and OpenAI), known to many as the real Tony Stark/Iron Man just launched the Model 3 and it’s a pretty big deal!


Elon Musk and Tesla logo

For the affordable price tag of US$35,000, you too can own the Tesla Model 3…along with 115,000 other people who had blindly deposited their money on a car that wasn’t even unveiled! That right there is a testament to the credibility and reputation that Elon Musk and his team have built at Tesla Motors.


Here’s a comprehensive review of what you’ll get for $35K clams! Okay, so this won’t be a comprehensive review, but more of an overview or very, very quick snapshot.

  • The Model 3 goes from 0 to 60 mph in less than SIX SECONDS!! [insane!]
  • You get 215 miles in a single charge! Perfect for those round-town commutes and short road trips!
  • Comes with plenty of room thanks to those five adult seats.
  • Ye olde 15 inch touchpad display. [Very nice]
  • Both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions! [Whaaat!]
  • Autopilot hardware comes standard. [Think Knight Rider]
  • Front and rear trunks for storage. [Enough for a surfboard]
  • The roof and windshield are one big glass! [Look up!]
  • A bunch of other bells and whistles!


For anyone who has followed the progression of Tesla in the past, you’ll know that they’ve gone through and overcame a lot of production issues, from failed models, to designs being ripped off, to almost going belly-up. Not this time! They’ve mastered the art of creating a well-oiled…well-electric machine. Model 3 deliveries are right on schedule and will start around late 2017. That’s not far from now.

Musk and his team should be very proud. The Tesla Motors fans all seem very satisfied and the shareholders are smiling from ear-to-ear, especially with over $7.5 billion worth of Model 3 preorders!

Go Tesla!

James Dyson: His Inventions Have Never “Sucked”!

When you think of the word innovation, which entrepreneur comes to mind? Was one of those names Steve Jobs? Maybe even Richard Branson or hot-shot modern day “Iron Man”, Elon Musk? But there’s one man who is a leader in innovation and who in my opinion doesn’t quite get the recognition he deserves.

Sir James Dyson is a British inventor, engineer, designer, and business leader and perhaps best known for his vacuums that it “will never lose suction” and his bladeless fan under his private company, Dyson Limited (founded in 1993). The mere thought of both inventions is enough to end this blog at this line. There are very few entrepreneurs and industry leaders cooler than Dyson.

The Ballbarrow in what looks like a '70s advertisement
The Ballbarrow in what looks like a ’70s advertisement

In his early years he realised how everyday problems could be solved by coming up with better and more practical solutions. Take for instance his “ballbarrow” invented in 1974, after watching a traditional wheelbarrow get stuck in muddy ground. Why didn’t I think of that?! It was pure genius. Such a “simple” idea, but yet it required complex thinking.

Dyson is renowned for being meticulous,  he once created a total of 5,127 prototypes for what later became the DC01, his first machine, the vacuum cleaner, developed in a workshop behind his house between 1979 and 1984. You do the math on the annual average of prototypes!

Most recently, Dyson released its Dyson 360 Eye, a robot vacuum cleaner capable of cleaning any space effectively and efficiently by tracking its own movements from where its been to where its going next.

I was good just drying my hands in a public restroom with the hot air from those hand-dryers and I accepted that as the norm. Then Dyson creates the Airblade! Just like that, everything else seems mediocre. That’s what I admire most about James Dyson — he has a way of creating solutions to everyday problems. Like he once said, “you have to distinguish between what people say they want now and what people might want when they see what it can do”.

I’ll say this much, I couldn’t imagine living in a world without bagless vacuum cleaners.