Stolichnaya vodka has announced their major rebrand in direct response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Solichnaya was originally marketed as Russian, however, the invasions have made retailers worldwide pull Russian products from their shelves to support the Ukrainian people. For example, Total Wine stores removed all the Russia-made products from their shelves and included “We are no longer selling any Russian made product”. Other liquor retailers have also announced that will be pulling both Russian-made and Russian-branded products from their shelves, that mostly means vodka products. In the most extreme cases, bar owners have dumped their Stolichyana products in protest.
Although Stolchinaya is not made in Russian and has production facilities in Latvia, the brand name is famously marketed as Russian and as a result, has been pulled from many retailer and bar shelves. As a response, Stolichnaya vodka has rebranded itself as Stoli Group and has also announced they do not use any ingredients from Russia and moving forward is finding a way to represent its Latvian roots.
From our perspective, we don’t think shortening the name to Stoli is going to change the perception from a Russian vodka to a non-Russian company. Although this was an immediate response to their branding in the short-term, it does not tell consumers why they are not a Russian company and merely changing the name does not seem as an effective solution to their branding problem. Consumers also have known as the vodka as Stoli even without the rebranding so this name change is not the most effective way to get away from their historic Russian ties.
Moving forward, we do think the name change should be kept because that’s what consumers have known it from the past decades, but we also think they Stoli needs to promote that they are a Latavia company, and it should be a marketing priority going back to the companies roots like employees have expressed. One way this could be done by adding more information to the bottle like a little map of the country, instead of just saying that they have no affiliations with Russia.