Early in October, I was contacted by Tomatin and given an opportunity to have an exclusive on the complete rebranding of the Tomatin range, so I took the chance to spend the entire week up in Scotland. After a number of days on Speyside, I arrived in Inverness staying at the Kingsmills hotel where I was welcomed with a free dram of Tomatin 12 Years Old... an excellent introduction to the brand.
With only a short drive the next morning down the A9, I was met by Graham Eunson Distillery Manager, Jennifer Masson Marketing Manager and Gaynor Duthie from Genoa Black.
Established in 1897, Tomatin has a fascinating history. The distillery at one point was Scotland's largest single malt producing distillery, but in the darker times of the 1980s it faced liquidation. However, the distillery recovered and since then has gone from strength to strength. Over 80 per cent of their staff live in the grounds of the distillery, in purpose built homes erected to specifically house the distillery workers, with generations of the same family working side by side.
With a change in strategy, the brand has gained significant awareness over the past few years, and as part of this, Tomatin has decided that the time was right to reveal a new branding, packaging and identity for the brand.
As Graham Eunson explained, "As a production guy, it's quite strange for me to get excited about a marketing aspect to the whisky industry, but in the coming months we are going to be rebranding Tomatin in its entirity, and I happen to think that's a very exciting prospect. Production and Marketing don't always see eye to eye. I have to admit that I have been guilty of that in the past, but it's very important that given a brand like Tomatin, which is still reasonably small in the grand scheme of things, that it's very important to get the marketing just right, the packaging right and the whole story behind it right. And one of the key things about the story here at Tomatin is - honesty. We don't have the most beautiful distillery in the world but we have a very honest distillery which makes good whisky and which is a very important factor. I think this is a fantastic opportunity for us to look forward, to get things right, to get the look of the product every bit as good as the product inside the bottle."
Much like the whisky they make, the brand takes time, craft and people to build. The uniqueness of Tomatin's location founded the basis of their brand proposition - 'The softer side of the Highlands.' Historically, the Highlands are seen as a harsh tough environment, which traditionally produces heavily peated malts. Yet, Tomatin is a Highland malt with a difference. Light, delicate and mellow, it is softer than you would expect. This softness is reflected by the surrounding landscape of the Monadhliath Mountains and the Alt-na-Frith burn, combined with the gentle patience of its loyal craftsmen.
For rebranding to take place, a number of key components need to come into place. Jennifer Masson the Marketing Manager, in order to build on this brand proposition, employed the services of the award-winning creative agency Pocket Rocket Creative, based in Stirling, to create a new look and feel for the brand which would be rolled out across the packaging.
The brief was to develop an identity that would cut through the saturated single malt market and capture the 'softer side' of the Highlands. The end result presents an identity that, applied across the core range of single malts, uses colours with an earthy and softer tone than the current and a refined version of the present logo to create a fresh, contemporary identity which retains the quality and tradition of the brand. Incorporating the Monadhliath Mountains on the base of the packaging and the bottles across the core range, this captures the landscape that is intrinsic to the brand. Ultimately, the new packaging now reflects the product inside, the distillery in which it was made and the people it was made by.
Integral to any brand refresh is the promotion and launch to the market. Due to their previous experience in the whisky industry, Genoa Black was appointed by Jennifer, to lead the promotion of the new range through PR, launch events and social media, with a key focus on incorporating the brand message.
Interpreting this brief, Genoa Black has developed an engaging campaign 'Tomatin Life', a celebration of their people, their place and, of course, their whisky. The campaign is a taste of what makes Tomatin the 'softer side of the Highlands', a taste of everything that makes Tomatin different. The campaign launched in November 2015 and will run through to March 2016, culminating with launch events in London, New York, Hong Kong and throughout Japan.
Recently Tomatin received some good news, which resulted in a substantial order and now means that the rebranded 12 Years Old will, in December 2015, be first launched exclusively in Sweden. Then in March 2016 the entire range will be rolled out across Europe.
Tomatin 12 Years Old, 43% ABV
Bourbon & Sherry Casks
Tomatin 14 Years Old, 46% ABV
Tomatin 18 Years Old, 46% ABV
Oloroso Sherry Casks
Tomatin Cask Strength, 57.5% ABV
Bourbon and Sherry Casks
Tomatin Legacy (NAS) 43% ABV
Bourbon and Virgin Oak Casks