3-year $700 million valuation! See how a drinking water brand walks out its own soul path through anti-traditional marketing

A drinking water brand has achieved a 3-year $700 million valuation through anti-traditional marketing

With the improvement of people’s quality of life, the competition in the drinking water market has become increasingly fierce.

In addition to well-known brands such as Nongfu Spring’s “Changbai Snow”, Yibao’s “Lu”, Jinmailang’s “Twelve Hours”, and Evergrande Spring’s “Deep Mineral Water”, there are also cross-border brands such as the “Mineral Water” soft mineral water with a black gold packaging from the beverage brand Yuánqì Sēnlín, and the natural mountain spring water “Deep Underground Spring” from the coffee brand San Dùn Bàn.

At some point, the competition in the drinking water market has also become “high-end”. More and more drinking water brands have begun to emphasize water quality, packaging, and creativity. The stories of drinking water brands seem to have reached their limits.

However, the drinking water brand Liquid Death takes a different approach and uses “rebellion” and “madness” as its brand concept. It uses bizarre, black humor, spoof, and satire to the extreme and opens up its own “soul path” with its unique “punk marketing”.

In just three years, its valuation has reached 700 million, and its sales have increased 15 times. Investors from Science Ventures once compared Liquid Death to the “Tesla” of bottled water, stating that “Liquid Death, like Tesla, does not preach, but only brings happiness and joy to consumers, making their products and ideas part of consumers’ lifestyles.” What kind of “marketing genius” is Liquid Death that can bring new ideas to ordinary mineral water?


It’s not just water, it’s attitude

Every mineral water brand emphasizes their water source in their promotion. For example, Nongfu Spring’s “Changbai Snow” comes from Changbai Mountain; Baishui Shan has a production base in Luofu Mountain, and so on. However, Liquid Death, which has water sources from the Austrian Alps, never emphasizes its water source because it wants to sell not only water, but also a “breaking convention” rebellious attitude. Mike Cessario, the founder of Liquid Death, found that the most attractive creativity is often found in tobacco and alcohol products. Consumers may find it difficult to see dark colors in healthy food. It seems that all healthy food brands have never thought of doing some “anti-traditional” marketing. Against this background, Mike Cessario observed that contemporary young people pursue a healthy lifestyle while also loving some seemingly “unhealthy” things like rock, punk, zombies, and vampires. This contradictory youth culture inspired him to create the brand of Liquid Death with a rebellious spirit. In 2018, Liquid Death was officially launched with beer-like aluminum tube packaging, gothic fonts, and heavy metal culture breaking the traditional bright image of bottled water. The design style of the brand’s website also has an extremely strong gothic color. Its brand slogan, “Murder your thirst,” is full of rebellious, uninhibited, and punk spirit. Mike Cessario hopes to reverse the stereotype of mineral water brands with Liquid Death and convey a “breaking convention” attitude.


Selling Creativity, Not Water

As the former creative director of Netflix, Mike Cessario is a professional in the “shenanigans” department. For example, what made Liquid Death stand out from a crowd of drinking water brands was the first Liquid Death promotional video that Mike Cessario released on Facebook. In the video, a young black woman pours Liquid Death mineral water over a man’s head tied to a piece of wood, calmly saying, “For a long time, water has been portrayed as something only yoga enthusiasts and girls drink.”

This simple yet dark-toned short film not only established the brand tone of Liquid Death but also won the favor of many young people. Punk packaging, rebellious videos, and gothic visuals are just the simplest ways to play with Liquid Death. Various shenanigans have been integrated into the entire brand. In the 2022 Super Bowl, unlike other brands that spend a lot of money on advertising, Liquid Death’s official Instagram account stated that it had placed a $50,000 bet on an underestimated team and wrote, “Our wizard has entered the stadium, sitting in section ××, row ××, seat ××. Get ready to witness the birth of black magic. We’re ready to win back the $50,000 bet.” This absurd interactive approach has successfully established the brand as “out of line” in the hearts of fans, greatly promoting interactions between the brand and fans. In addition, Liquid Death’s official website is full of surprises. For example, the “Contact us” section of a regular website has been changed to “Summon Us.” If you want to become a brand member, you need to “SELL YOUR SOUL” and sign a “soul contract” to “sell” your name and email address to Liquid Death to get exclusive brand benefits. In addition, Liquid Death has turned users’ hate mail into a song called “Greatest Hates” and even launched a “Killer Baby Namer” where you can log in to the official website and give your baby a cool killer name, and by providing a birth certificate, you may receive up to 18 years’ worth of Liquid Death mineral water. Liquid Death’s various shenanigans have made more and more people curious about “what Liquid Death is all about,” and that’s already achieved Liquid Death’s goal.


Selling Brand, Not Water

In Mike Cessario’s opinion, what Liquid Death needs is customers who love the Liquid Death brand, not just customers who love the water itself. In other words, Liquid Death’s marketing goal is to build a group of “brand loyal” customers, not just those who are loyal to the product itself. Mike Cessario has publicly stated that “the main product of Liquid Death in the future will not be any type of mineral water. Liquid Death is a brand, not a company that sells water. Customers buy Liquid Death water because they identify with Liquid Death’s philosophy and values, not because our water is of high quality.” By logging onto the official website of Liquid Death, one can discover that in addition to mineral water, Liquid Death is also trying various other products such as T-shirts, vests, hoodies, and other brand-specific merchandise. The watch that Liquid Death collaborated with the watch brand NIXON on sold out in just four days after its release. Although the sales of seemingly non-serious products launched by Liquid Death are just the tip of the iceberg compared to overall revenue, it fully demonstrates the brand value of Liquid Death and proves that Mike Cessario’s envisioned “Liquid Death+” is possible.



From its inception, every step taken by Liquid Death has been unexpected. In the context where drinking water brands are emphasizing quality, Liquid Death’s anti-traditional marketing has undoubtedly succeeded in creating brand differentiation. Liquid Death’s success undoubtedly provides some very valuable insights for small and early-stage brands that have a single product: 1. Compared to big brands, small brands need to use their small size and lack of baggage to create a distinct personality; 2. Emphasize the quality of every marketing plan to ensure the best promotional effect; 3. Build emotional value for the brand based on the product. Just like Robert Woodruff, the president of Coca-Cola, once said: “Even if all Coca-Cola factories were burned down, I could rebuild Coca-Cola within three months.” This sentence contains his confidence in the Coca-Cola brand. A fire can burn all products, but it cannot burn consumers’ awareness of the brand.

Believe that Liquid Death can bring us more unexpected surprises.

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