21 February 2013 // Thoughts

The 5 Keys to Creating Successful Brand Lands: Respecting Tradition, Infusing Innovation

Thanks for reading, and welcome back to Part 2 of our how-to of creating successful brand attractions and experiences. In today’s post, Shawn McCoy takes us on a journey to JRA’s newest brand lands, from the UAE to the US of A.

In 2010, JRA celebrated the opening of its largest brand experience, which just also happens to be the world’s largest indoor theme park. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi offers rides, attractions, shows and restaurants all themed to the car manufacturer and is perfectly situated adjacent to one of the most popular tracks in the Formula 1 universe. While the theme park is located in Abu Dhabi, JRA brought authentic Italy to the guests however it could. The park features several 5-star chefs from Italy who create authentic Italian dishes. It also offers opportunities for guests to experience Ferrari’s Italian roots, such as “Viaggio in Italia,” where visitors can fly over the Italian landscape, or Bell’Italia, where they can drive through miniature recreations of famous Italian landscapes.

The park’s signature “only here” attraction however, ties to the automaker’s tradition for speed. Formula Rossa is the fastest rollercoaster in the world – hurtling to speeds of 150 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds, simulating the acceleration of a Ferrari racecar. Its reverence to its roots, coupled with its need for speed, makes Ferrari World Abu Dhabi a destination brand experience for tourists to the Middle East.

Back in the USA, we move from fast cars to tasty libations, from the deserts of Abu Dhabi to the green hills of Kentucky. Last October, the Bourbon Trail welcomed the new Jim Beam American Stillhouse and Distillery Tour in Clermont, the birthplace of the bourbon known as “liquid gold.” The down-home, rural personality of the brand is evident in the attraction’s authentic buildings and lush landscape.

The tour begins in the stillhouse, a new building designed by JRA. Its architecture and aesthetic were developed to match the agricultural and industrial roots of the brand (while also embracing its quirkiness), and features the “stillevator,” an elevator made out of a bourbon still. The brand’s motto is “come as a friend, leave as family,” so the stillhouse was designed to be homey and welcoming. Jim Beam is first and foremost a family company, with seven generations of Master Distillers, and JRA represented this tradition with a floor-to-ceiling graphic. Fred Noe, current Master Distiller and descendant of Jacob “Jim” Beam, is featured at bottom.

After visiting the Stillhouse, guests have the option of taking the Distillery Tour, which allows them to see the real mass production and bottling processes of the brand’s key products – from running their hands through the mash of the small batch line to feeling the heat of the of the 10,000-gallon large batch fermentation vats. Since these production facilities are spread out over several buildings, JRA included a miniature production line, where the company’s Knob Creek Brand is created. The experiences the entire process, all the way down to barrel dumping, bottling and decanting. Throughout the tour, guests meet the real stars of the show – the Jim Beam staff who create the bourbon. JRA knew that Jim Beam’s greatest strength was its people and looked for ways to leverage this asset throughout the design process.

After the tour, thirsty visitors can make their way to the state-of-the-art Jim Beam American Outpost tasting room for an innovative “only here” experience. In contrast to traditional bourbon tastings, JRA created a cocktail party atmosphere with the introduction of the Enomatic – a wine-serving system adapted for bourbon for the first time. Guests are given a tasting card and are briefly introduced to the different brands. They then have the power to choose which two samples they would like to drink.

The American Stillhouse, Distillery Tour and American Outpost tasting room offer the guest an authentic, interactive encounter that has already earned Jim Beam accolades. A full month before its completion, CNN Travel ranked the new Jim Beam American Stillhouse and Distillery Tour as one of the “World’s Best” – sight unseen and solely based on its vision and proposed enhancements. Jim Beam aims to increase visitor numbers from 80,000 to 250,000 with the new attraction, catapulting it from the lowest rated tour on the Trail to the highest.

By infusing authenticity, intimacy and interactivity with a healthy dash of personality and innovation, some of the world’s biggest companies are creating brand lands that deepen human connections with their products while offering entertaining attractions for fans and families alike.