Ed Cotton: Why Brands Need Places Of Origin

Stressing physical space in a digital world, Bombay Sapphire will soon have a Home of the Imagination to give it somewhere to ‘be from.’

The digital world gives us the opportunity to imagine new worlds for brands and to create virtual spaces that brand audiences can navigate and explore. They can be updated, changed and modified to suit the times and most important they can be accessed by everyone from anywhere.

Given the power and opportunity of digital, it therefore seems strange that Bacardi’s Bombay Sapphire would need to go beyond this. Bombay is a brand that was launched in the mid-1980s and was in the Diageo family until Bacardi acquired it together with Dewar’s in 1998 for $2 billion.

The 1980s was a time when we saw spirits brands being created without provenance; they were born from the minds of marketing teams, new product consultants and agency creatives of all different shapes and sizes. These were the brands that took on the established players and offered a new generation of drinkers something of an alternative to the stuffy old world of their parents and grandparent’s spirits brands.

Fast forward to 2012 and Bombay Sapphire is now looking ancient and one without provenance, the brand possesses a beautiful bottle design and botanicals story, but it doesn’t come from anywhere, that is until now.

Probably as a result of extensive consumer research, Bacardi has decided that Bombay needs a home so they brought one and are turning it into a production and physical center for the brand. Much like a winery or a whiskey distillery, it’s a place you can visit and live and breathe the brand’s sensory signatures.

However, unlike wineries and whiskey distilleries- Bombay Sapphire’s Home of the Imagination doesn’t have a historical connection to the brand, instead they picked an amazing site in a beautiful part of England and are a designing the space from scratch that will open in 2013.


It’s an important reminder that brands need centers, they need something that holds the whole thing together and has substance.

Obviously, Bombay is an extreme example because the category has specific demands from provenance that doesn’t necessarily ring true for others, but in a world where digital is dominant, the physical is going to hold an increasing allure.

Brands that exist within physical space and have the opportunity to create for it need to think really carefully about the experience and how they can deliver something that goes well beyond the virtual.

To see the original post, click hereOriginally posted on Influx, which explores the intersection of brands and the social, consumer and cultural forces that shape them. Read more on Influx.

Picture via Influx

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