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Crafting a premium website for Woodford Reserve

Shaking up the global digital presence for an American icon.

Food and Beverage
Web Development
UX / UI Design
Digital Marketing
Website Localization

The Objective: Going Premium on an International Scale

Brown-Forman Corporation, one of the world’s leading spirits and wine businesses, faced a strategic challenge with Woodford Reserve, one of its most iconic and fastest growing brands. Woodford Reserve is a “super-premium” bourbon that has seen dramatic growth throughout the “Bourbon Boom”.

Unfortunately, in some international markets bourbon still faced a consumer perception challenge where it was seen as a “low-end” spirit compared to local alternatives. As a super premium bourbon, Woodford Reserve faced an uphill battle to convince serious whiskey drinkers in these markets to try bourbon the way the master distillers intended: neat, on the rocks, or mixed in a fine cocktail. As a result, Woodford Reserve’s exceptional product wasn’t gaining the market share that Brown-Forman’s leadership knew was possible. 

That’s when brand marketing leadership at Brown-Forman approached ADK Group with a challenge - reinvent the global website to support further international growth. And the work needed to be done quickly without sacrificing quality. The user experience needed to showcase the story of Woodford Reserve, and of bourbon, to win over the hearts and palettes of whiskey drinkers worldwide. The team also needed a high level of customization and seamless integration with ecommerce services.

"We can make any changes we need on the site. We can update product pages, we can change our distillery information, we can add hero videos, we can do so many things that we couldn’t do before. And my team doesn’t need to get the IT team involved, we don’t need to rewrite code, it’s built very flexibly and allows us to respond to the changing world."
Colton Payne,Global Brand Manager, Brown-Forman
The Outcome: Driving Results While Accounting for COVID-19

The new Woodford Reserve website launched in February 2020, just as COVID-19 effectively shut down tourism, bar and restaurant traffic, and large-scale events like the Kentucky Derby which Woodford Reserve sponsors globally. Even with this once-in-a-generation pandemic, the results of the site are impressive. Website traffic has increased by over 70%, and international traffic has already increased by over 26%. The addition of the multilingual site content later this year will provide another great way to reach their audience across the pond. 

Despite setbacks from the pandemic, the revamped digital experience for Woodford Reserve benefited from the latest SEO performance upgrades. These created long-term value for the brand while already increasing organic traffic by over 31%. Additionally, because we built the site with a flexible, pagebuilder architecture in WordPress which enables Brown-Forman’s marketing team to own the future customization of their website as they work to grow the brand. 

"We were looking nationally. We had folks pitch the business as far out as California and Virginia Beach. But one of the things that we felt ADK had clear experience with was building super premium and luxury high end web experiences, experiences that reflected the type of brand that Woodford Reserve is."
Colton Payne,Global Brand Manager, Brown-Forman
Why ADK?

Not unlike Woodford Reserve Bourbon, our success can be attributed to how we are made. There are many capable website designers and website developers. But global brands with critical business objectives and tight deadlines require a partner that offers a rare balance of strategy, creativity, technical depth, and a proven process all under one roof. 

As a large, independent digital agency, that’s how we are built. Repeatable processes, proven teams, specialized expertise, and strong communication are what make our integrated agency model unique.

Complex IT and security requirements? Not a problem, our devops and backend team is used to those. Difficult localization needs? We’ve done it many times before, both with automated services and manual translation systems. A billion dollar global brand that needs to be carried forward online? Bring it on, we love a challenge. 

In the end, we served as digital translators for Brown-Forman by turning their challenges into opportunities and delivering beyond their expectations every step of the way. ADK’s proven project management and WordPress development process made sure that Brown-Forman got everything they needed and more on-time and to a high level of quality. 

We also leveraged the proximity of our midwest office in Louisville, KY to work closely with Brown-Forman at their headquarters and at the Woodford Reserve distillery. This carried forward our existing partnership with Brown-Forman that spans other wine and spirits brands