Red Bull: not for the faint-hearted

Red Bull is a renowned energy drink that was the first of its kind. Over the years, with their aim to “Spread our wings over the world”, they have become a lot more than just a drink (Adames17, 2011). Today they fill TV screens and stadiums with their sponsored extreme events. Through these associations, the brand has become a beacon for extreme sports, with their product being the fuel for their “adrenaline junkie” followers.

When looking at the above, it is clear that Red Bull’s identity focuses on the extraordinary. It is important, however, that every aspect of this identity is communicated to consumers to gain a competitive following. So how do they do this?

Red Bull’s identity is built in delivering an energy drink that fuels adrenaline seekers to help them keep up with their extreme lives. They furthermore seek to contribute to their supporters’ lives by hosting events that fill their need for “epic” experiences.

It is important for any successful brand to have a focused identity. By knowing exactly who you are and who you want to serve, the potential consumers can easily recognise themselves in your brand. Red Bull has a distinct set of followers because the brand represents their lives. The consumers therefore use your brand to brand themselves which is beneficial. Not only does it create authenticity through real brand representation, but also allows you to form part of a certain community.

For a brand to be able to build and maintain a strong identity, it is important to ensure that their verbal and visual language always represent this identity. Klopper and North (2011:82) highlights three features of visual and verbal language that will help a brand effectively communicate their identity:

  1. Brand tone of voice
  2. Brand symbols
  3. Brand story

The brand tone of voice is the way the brand speaks. Here the brand needs to look at the specific words they use. Red Bull communicates their identity by using words associated with fun and sports.

On their brand information page, the first line reads: “Dive into some interesting information…”. By starting the page off with the word dive, the association with extreme, fun and adventure are immediately made. Their Facebook page also consists of this type of language. Some titles to videos uploaded read: “A wee day out”, “Oopsey Daisy” and “Unwheelivable”. The tone of voice is informal, fun and associated with adventure.

Image 1: Red Bull Facebook page (Source:

It fits perfectly with their identity and appeals to the adventure-seeking consumer they serve. Their tone of voice is also consistently communicated through all their channels. Their consumers are therefore always certain who the brand is and what they represent.

Image 2: Example of verbal language in Red Bull’s print ad. This language again highlights the brand’s extreme side (Source:

Brand symbols are elements directly associated to specific brands. The Red Bull logo is widely known and consists of two bright red bulls storming head on, with a yellow-gold circle in the middle. This logo is effective as it shows the brand’s identity. The bulls charging each other show the extreme and fearless side of the brand. The yellow-gold circle in the middle can be seen as a burst of energy that comes with the drink.

The most famous symbol of the brand, however, is their tagline: “Red Bull gives you wings”. It is used in all of their advertisements and is the main focus of the brand. It implies that the product will enable you to do the extraordinary.

The brand has television advertisements that feature drawings of ordinary people drinking red bull, and then getting their wings. Even though this is an infamous ad, I do believe that it is one area where they are moving away from their brand identity. The sketches are out dated and humorous and do not fit with the fearless bad-boy image of the target market.

Image 3: Red Bull gives you wings ad sketch (Source:

Lastly, the brand story showcases the brand identity and purpose. This can be done in different ways, as long as the message stays the same. Red Bull’s recent success story was with Red Bull Stratos. Red Bull states that the mission was to “transcend human limits”. They had an expert free-fall from the stratospheric balloon with just a parachute. The mission was a success and the story even greater. It catered to the adrenaline spirit of the target market and tied in the “gives you wings” message. The brand story showed that with Red Bull as a partner on your side, you can “transcend human limits”. You can get your wings. The result is successfully evoking adrenaline and adventurous feelings in the consumer, and them associating these good feelings with the brand.

Image 4: Red Bull Stratos mission (Source: )

Through the example of Red Bull one can learn the benefits of cohesively communicating your brand identity. By displaying who you are and the purpose you serve, you enable consumers to easily associate with your brand. Strong visual and verbal language are therefore the ultimate ramp to new successful heights. Are you ready to jump?



Adames17. 2011. Mission Statement. Available:  [2016, November 5].

Klopper, H.B. & North, E. 2011. Brand Management. Cape Town: Pearson

Red Bull. 2016. The company behind the can. Available: [2016, November 5].

Red Bull. 2016. Red Bull profile. Available: [2016, November 5].

Red Bull Stratos. 2016. What is the mission?. Available: [2016, November 5].


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