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Guinness scoops Brand of the Year prize

GuinnessGuinness has been named Brand of the Year at the Marketing Week Awards 2023 seeing off fierce competition from Boots, Cadbury Dairy Milk, Sage and Yorkshire Tea to take home the top prize.

The brand triumphed following a public vote where Marketing Week readers were asked to choose their winner from the five shortlisted brands and the scores from a jury of brand and marketing experts, who were asked to rank the shortlist for brand management excellence.

Guinness’ triumph is no surprise when you consider the success it has seen over the past 12 months. Guinness became Britain’s most popular pint earlier this year, accounting for one in every nine pints pulled in the UK, and saw a sales uplift of 19% across Europe. Kantar ranks Guinness as the UK’s most distinctive beer brand and the fifth most distinctive overall.

This Much I Learned: The DNA of Guinness and why that matters in 2023For a brand that hasn’t changed its iconic product since 1759, it’s a remarkable marketing success story and one that proves the value in understanding your brand’s unique DNA.

Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson heaped praise on the brand earlier in the year for its impressive growth – achieved not entirely through a new line extension or product innovation – but thanks to “fundamental marketing done brilliantly”. He continued: “No new tech. No alternative approach. Just the textbook applied, beautifully, to an exceptional brand.”

The secret is black and white

The Guinness marketing function are aware of the fantastic platform they have to build off. Two of its marketers, Diageo’s global director of beer, Smirnoff and Bailey’s, Grainne Wafer, and head of Guinness GB, Neil Shah, spoke to Marketing Week about the success of the brand for our This Much I Learned podcast.

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“It’s not about ripping up the rulebook, it’s about building on it,” said Shah, who has presided over two key product innovations that maintain that unique Guinness experience but bring it to a different audience through its Guinness 0.0 alcohol-free variety and its Nitrosurge technology that allows for the perfect pint of Guinness to be poured at home.

Both innovations went through rigorous research and insight before being launched, Wafer told us at the time.

How Guinness became Britain’s most popular pintAs to the success of the brand, for Wafer it is simple: “The truth of marketing is that it’s a simple strategy executed consistently with good investment levels, with evaluation and learning that optimises that over time.”

Russell Parsons, Marketing Week’s editor-in-chief, says: “Brand of the Year is all about identifying a brand that others can learn from. The brands that are employing strategic nous and tactical excellence, pulling on all the levers at their disposal, and to great effect. In short, a brand we can all admire. For a long time, Guinness has demonstrated all that, and more.

“It’s a brand with a strong sense of self. One that understands its DNA, and why that matters. A worthy winner of Brand of the Year.”

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