How Liquid Death Turned Water Into Gold

Michael Beausoleil
7 min readDec 20, 2022

If you’ve browsed a grocery store recently, you might have spotted Liquid Death — the coolest new drink on the market. Its can blends in with other energy drinks, but there’s one catch: It’s healthy. It’s totally caffeine-free, calorie-free, and free of artificial sweeteners. And this is because it’s actually just water.

Canned water isn’t new, and Liquid Death is relatively expensive for water at just under $2 for an individual can ($1.89 on Amazon). But that hasn’t stopped the brand from growing to $700 million in November 2022.

So what’s the secret? It’s all in the branding. It’s not like water is some revolution, though this water does come from a “deep underground mountain.” The purification process keeps all of the minerals and electrolytes from this source, but really, it’s just a can of water.

You’re getting a 16.9 oz “tallboy” for under $2: while it’s pricy, it’s not going to destroy your bank account. Still, it’s just water in the can, but the company managed to take this water and turn it into marketing gold.

The birth of Liquid Death

If it’s really just water in a can, and you need water to live, why is it called Liquid Death?

CEO Mike Cessario got the idea while attending the Warped Tour — a high-energy rock show. The event is often sponsored by energy drinks like Monster, but performers didn’t want to spend their time guzzling these unhealthy energy bombs. So, they’d fill the cans with water and drink them on stage to promote their sponsors.

Liquid Death Skull Logo
Liquid Death logo

So, the product gets its name because it’s going to murder your thirst in a market that wants to sell you sugar and caffeine. It’s quite obvious that the cans draw inspiration from the artwork traditionally plastered on energy drinks. It’s cool enough to fit into a DJ set, but it won’t make your heart beat out of your chest.

Upon its inception, the idea teetered between too crazy to work and crazy enough it just might work. So, the brand started with a marketing stunt commercial, and it went viral. This isn’t too shocking for Cessario because he had produced viral advertisements for Netflix. And he knew his brand would merge a love for extreme sports and heavy metal with a sarcastic tone. This got eyes on his…

Michael Beausoleil

User Analytics | Digital & Brand Marketing | Productivity … hoping to explore topics that interest me and find others with similar passions