How this startup from zero to $120 million selling canned water did it

To increase your revenue – the formula is old as the hills: 

  1. Capture the attention of a target audience, 
  2. Get engagement – likes, shares, comments, 
  3. Sell more.

To be more precise – in marketing speak – 

  • Find an unaddressed target audience,  
  • Niche down – do not try to address the whole market, 
  • Differentiate and segment clearly from your competitors – stand out and stand for something – your Big Purpose. (Humans remember change and differences – the thing that stands out – captures our attention – we notice the unusual)

If you are trying to break into the supermarket business – how do you get aisle space? Answer: Not by looking and sounding like your competitors. 

Liquid Death has become one of the fastest-growing nonalcoholic beverage brands in history.


Launched in Los Angeles in January 2019 with the strategic pitch – Murder Your Thirst.

Liquid Death began selling what is essentially water-in-a-can via its website. 

How did it do it? 


Before: Water brands were a sea of sameness -indistinguishable: packaging of mountain peaks and trickling springs, good-looking athletes – you get the picture. 

Now Enter Liquid Death.

It started with a test commercial in 2017 ( no product was available) 

  • The video went viral with millions of views,
  • Within a few months, the landing page had more followers than one of the leaders in the water category – Aquafina.
  • Millions were demanding that the product be released. 
  • Their email signup/rewards system says – “Selling Your Soul.” – sign up now. 

Know your niche


When at a bar, a concert, a backyard barbecue, or a company party –– if everyone is drinking and you’re carrying a plastic water bottle, you don’t fit in – everyone asks why you are drinking water.

Liquid Death packaged their water in aluminium tallboy cans designed with killer graphics. 

Solution: Liquid Death solves the job of fitting in when drinking water. 

Target Market 

Liquid Death took inspiration from heavy metal and punk rock bands, targeting young men who previously might only have drunk water at the gym.

Strategic Narrative – Its quirky, rebellious messaging doesn’t feel or look like a brand – it’s more shock and awe, entertainment meets a product. 

  • From the can – This infinitely recyclable can of stone-cold mountain water came straight from the Alps to murder your thirst. When a group of teenagers sets off into the mountains for a weekend of drinking regular water in plastic bottles, they become hunted by an aluminium can of mountain water that is dead set on murdering their thirst and recycling their souls,
  • The brand’s first advertisement gained almost 5 million views on YouTube: they positioned their water as the deadliest stuff on earth, Liquid Death, which kills thousands of innocent surfers, snowboarders and kayakers annually. The video then pans out to see the attractive female presenter waterboarding a suited man taped to a trestle table.
  • Other marketing includes selling a limited-edition skateboard decorated with paint infused with skateboard legend Tony Hawk’s blood or creating a heavy metal album inspired by negative internet comments about the company. 

Online Feedback 

  • Liquid Death, thank you. Finally, my 9-year-old is excited to drink water instead of soda,” and it’s all because of your brand. It feels like something cool you’re not supposed to have, but it’s the healthiest thing you can drink. 
  • “Hey, I don’t want to drink alcohol, and now I feel way more a part of the occasion when I can walk around with a Liquid Death, and people aren’t saying, ‘Oh, how come you’re not drinking?'”

Every successful business now is a cross between an entertainment-media business with its products and services attached. 

The worst position to be in is being another business that looks and sounds like your competitors – you can only make small profits when you are in a sea of sameness. 

Is this your business? Let’s Chat. 

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