I was giving some thought to recent marketing successes and Tito’s Handmade Vodka came to mind. Tito’s is the fastest growing brand in a very crowded field, full of well-known incumbents like Smirnoff, Grey Goose, Absolut and Svedka.

I hate to burst people’s bubble, but vodka is ethanol. It is what comes out of the end of any still. Other spirits, like gin, have added flavors. Brown alcohols are colored and flavored by aging in charcoal-lined barrels. The mineral content of the water used to bring vodka down to 80 proof is the primary reason one brand tastes different from another.

So how did Tito Beveridge do it, other than having a convenient and memorable name?

Simple. He told a story.

I have heard the live reads on SiriusXM radio so many times I practically have Tito’s story memorized:

  • Tito maxed out his credit cards to build a still
  • He got the first license to distill in the State of Texas
  • He distills his vodka six times
  • Tito’s vodka is “handmade” in Austin, Texas
  • Tito’s vodka is naturally gluten-free (spoiler alert: gluten is a grain protein, there is no protein in any distilled spirit)
  • Simple bottle with a plain brown label, so the buyer gets the value in the vodka

Tito continues to add to the story by claiming, “I make filet mignon at a pot roast price.”

He also started Vodka for Dog People, a charity that provides for the health needs of canines and talks about how dogs have always been around the distillery.

But here is Tito’s greatest coup: he recruited an army of fans to help build the brand.

In Tito’s words, “If you are in a bar and they don’t have it, ask to speak to the bar manager. If you tell 20 of your closest friends we’ll just keep this thing rolling. Thanks a whole bunch, I try to make it good.”

Who can say no to that?