Local icon can still grow its brand

Published 11:01 pm Monday, November 6, 2017

Ale-8-One has become synonymous with Winchester, but now is the perfect time to strengthen that connection.

It is almost impossible to mention the city without someone pointing out it is home to the beloved product, Kentucky’s oldest and largest independent soft drink company.

Ale-8 stands out for its unique story, classic branding and one-of-a-kind flavor.

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The company was recently selected to be a part of Road Trip Kentucky, a documentary highlighting unique businesses throughout the state.

Celebrating its milestone 90th anniversary in 2016, Ale-8 has built a foundation for the next decade and beyond through a partnership with Cracker Barrel that allows the drink to reach customers in 42 states.

In addition to online sales, Ale-8 is also available at grocery and convenience retailers throughout Kentucky, and in parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee and West Virginia.

So, while the company is a tremendous community partner and has expanded its reach and draw regionally, it also has a tremendous opportunity right to energize the community and further expand its brand.

Now is perfect time to capitalize on the buzz that will come with Road Trip Kentucky and make the Ale-8-One production facility a can’t-miss destination that draws people from near and far.

It starts with maximizing the facility’s premium location and visibility along Interstate 64.

The building could truly stand out in ways no one else could match.

It would start with celebrating the recognizable logo as well as the red, green and yellow color scheme.  The building could mirror the cardboard cartons the drinks come in.

One of the most unique elements of Ale-8 is its classic glass bottle. Why not showcase a giant replica to create the most unique signage ever?

Even the trucks used to deliver the soft drink are iconic. Park one on the roof of the production facility and passing motorists will pay attention.

The goal would be to make it impossible for anyone to drive by and not know that Ale-8 is made there.

The next step would be to encourage more people to want to stop for a “taste.”

The company does a good job of giving tours at least once a week, but we could see that expanding to daily with higher visibility and a focused outreach program within Central Kentucky.

A complement to this would be aggressively marketing its physical and online store that features great branded products and quality merchandise. The problem is not enough people know about these offerings.

A project of this scale this wouldn’t be easy. It would take a clear vision and strong commitment to the community, traits Ale-8-One has shown for more than nine decades.

It would also take a significant amount of money. A partnership between the company and our city and county governments to invest in tourism could be an integral part of this project that would be a win-win situation.

Ale-8-One and Winchester are forever linked and can grow those bonds to showcase a product as unique as the city it calls home.