There’s no doubt which need has the most heroic-sounding definitions. Knowing your own mind. Going your own way. Holding your course. Keeping your nerve. Sticking to your guns. Staying true to yourself.
Independence is about strength of will. It’s the maverick in all of us, the part that doesn’t worry too much what others think.
Where you find the need, there’s usually a convention to be challenged. Like in whisky. Whisky comes from Scotland, doesn’t it? All the famous brands are made there. I know it’s also made in the USA but that’s bourbon and that’s different. Whisky, proper whisky, is Scotch. Isn’t it?
Well, not if it’s Irish it isn’t. Then it’s ‘whiskey’, not ‘whisky’.
And top of the Irish whiskey pile, by a mile, is Jameson. As a brand, it has every kind of distinctive asset you could wish to find.
One of the best is that John Jameson was actually Scottish. He was a lawyer from Alloa who married Margaret Haig, whose brothers owned the Haig distilleries in Scotland. She was also a first cousin of the Steins, another Scottish distilling family, who owned the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin, which had been founded in 1780. That’s why ‘Established since 1780’ is on the label.
Jameson moved to Dublin with his wife in 1786 to manage the Bow Street Distillery for his wife’s uncle. He took over ownership in 1805 and in 1810 the John Jameson & Son Irish Whiskey Company was formally established. The Jameson family coat of arms is also on the label, including the motto ‘Sine Metu’, which means ‘without fear’.
The product itself is distinctively smooth, so it often takes people used to the taste of Scotch by surprise. Part of the reason for this is it’s triple distilled, unlike the typical Scotch whisky, which is distilled twice. ‘Triple distilled’ is also on the label. That’s how to have your packaging working hard for you.
In recent years, the company have even brought out limited edition St Patrick’s Day bottles, designed by Pearlfisher. This year’s celebrates the ‘Sine Metu’ family motto with a design inspired by an Irish legend which is meant to explain the origins of the phrase ‘to chance your arm’. To quote Pearlfisher’s post:
‘Black James’ Butler and his men found themselves barricaded behind the door to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin in the battling days of 1492. Looking to make peace, Gearóid Fitzgerald, who was on the other side, cut a hole in the door and extended his hand through the gap as a token of friendship. Instead of cutting off his arm with a sword. Butler shook it and the long-standing feud came to an end.
So that’s why Dublin is such a friendly place. Good story.
On top of this, Jameson has always advertised. Way back when, the Jameson tag-line here in the UK was ‘You’ll never know until you’ve tried it’. There used to be cross-track posters in London tube stations, where a Jameson drinker tried to tempt his Scotch-drinking friend into giving Irish a go.
Just shows, when people have two minutes spare, they’re more than happy to read long copy.
Put it together and you have a great brand. Heritage, story, reasons to believe, experience, saliency, distinctiveness. But what underpins it all is a sense of continuity.
Maybe that's the real insight into Independence. It's a one-way street. So once you set off, if you are true to yourself, there's no turning back.