Building an Authentic Brand with Purpose featuring Uncle Ed’s Damn Good Vodka

On this episode of Digital Hospitality, brothers Ed and Walt tell the story of their purpose-driven vodka company live from the Wonderfront Festival in San Diego, where they were a major sponsor. Wonderfront Festival co-founder (and previous guest of Digital Hospitality) Ernie Hahn makes a special appearance.

Uncle Ed is the face of Uncle Ed’s Damn Good Vodka. There’s a reason for that. His ideals are the brand’s ideals. He and his vodka are on the same path.

He wouldn’t be involved with the company if he didn’t think he could make a difference.

Ed, an environmental scientist, and his family, including their pet pig Tuk Tuk, live on an organic island farm in Hawaii where they manage a self-sustaining existence surrounded by a beautiful lush jungle landscape. They traded in city life for a simpler life off the grid.

Ed also knows how to make some Damn Good Vodka.

For a decade, Ed and Walt have owned and operated the distillery in their home state of Idaho.

They wanted to make sure the vodka company was in line with Ed’s values, including living sustainably. For example, the bottle for Uncle Ed’s Damn Good Vodka has no plastic, uses recycled paper label, flint glass, and has zero water waste. It’s also gluten-free and made with non-GMO ingredients.

They took what Ed stands for and bottled it.

It’s a vodka with a purpose — to simplify, sustain, and give back. The company also aligns with charity, including Waves for Water, which provides clean water to those who need it.

The Foundational Philosophies of Uncle Ed’s Damn Good Vodka are:
* Be real, authentic, and transparent
* Remain community-driven
* Be mission-based
* Focus on waste minimization across the supply chain
* Live by intentional production
* Work on ways to create more sustainable packaging
* Aid clean water missions around the world
* Create ultra-smooth tasting vodka

At the Wonderfront Festival, Uncle Ed’s Damn Good Vodka did more than lend their name as a sponsor. They had an entire village area set up at the Embarcadero Park North, which reflected the sensibilities of the brand with vodka tastings, music, games, and more.

Uncle Ed’s Damn Good Vodka is about family, Walt said. “The most successful brands, not just in alcohol, are small, family based, true authentic stories.”

“When Ed left our distillery in Boise to move to the big island to fulfill his dream, it was really kind of defining moment of ‘what do we do, where is our business going to go?’ Walt said. “I just saw Ed live his passion.”

Ed said the company is still striving to make steps toward being even more environmentally responsible, reducing their carbon footprint, and making more purpose-driven business decisions.

“We just got done finding a biodegradable plastic shrink-wrap that goes around the pallets when we ship them off,” Ed said. “It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s constantly moving forward. It’s a bunch of small steps.”

It’s about the mission of the brand, which when it’s a core fundamental of the business, will always be there.

Walt said he’s incredibly proud that his brother Ed has found his purpose. “Watching my brother walk around his farm and the more he talks about what he’s doing — and the more excited, the more passion he gets — as his brother, that makes me absolutely happy.”

“It warms my heart, it makes me feel amazing.”