Oh how the times have changed for beer drinkers. In the past, a trip to your local package store was a brief errand to pick up a tried-and-true brand of brew, maybe a six-pack of a domestic beer or whatever was on sale that day. Now that craft brewers have exploded onto the scene, a beer run involves much more decision making than ever before. When I stopped by my local package store to see just how many brands I could count, I ended up finding over three dozen, and that’s just scratching the surface!
For independent brewers – particularly those just starting out on this wondrous journey – this begs the question: how does one stand out amongst the ever-growing competition? While the operational side of a brewery is certainly important, it can all be for naught if your brand, and what it represents, doesn’t resonate with the people in your community. In order to build a brand that has the potential for sustainable growth and success, brewers need to put extensive thought into what makes their business special and differentiates their product. Here are some things to consider:
1. What is the story behind your brand?
Everybody loves a good origin story. Chances are the idea for your brewery didn’t just fall into your lap out of the blue. Maybe your dad brewed his own beer on the weekends and you learned your craft from him. Perhaps an experience while traveling abroad helped to trigger your inspiration. Whatever the case may be, there’s something about the birth of an idea, the successes and failures in trying to realize that idea, and the ultimate triumph of making it a reality, that resonates with all of us.
2. What are the values of your brand?
Along with the story of how your brewery came to be, you should be promoting the values that shape your brand. What are the qualities that you want to emphasize in your business? What inspires you to run a brewery beyond just your bottom line? These values are more than just buzzwords to throw at your customers. In fact, these ideals can develop the culture within your brewery, particularly among your staff.
3. What do you want the perception of your brand to be?
According to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, your brand can be defined as “what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” But before you go filling your establishment with recording devices, consider instead the way you might describe a favorite brewery to your family and friends. What makes it stand out, in your opinion, compared to other breweries and bars? For example, Reformation Brewery’s website features a video titled “gather, serve, love” that perfectly defines my experiences there. With an open, relaxing social atmosphere and personable staff, its three locations embody a wonderful sense of community that accentuates these ideals.
When all of these ingredients come together, they can create a unique and memorable brand identity. Take, for instance, New Belgium Brewing Company and their classic bicycle logo. The idea for the company was born during a bike trip through Belgium, and New Belgium employees receive their own custom bike after one year of employment! In addition, they are also 100% employee-owned and promote a distinct eco-friendly focus within their core values. It all makes for a perfect fit.
Another terrific example – doing a different kind of brewing – is Alma Coffee in Woodstock, GA. The word “alma” translates to “soul” in Spanish, and their logo features three birds that are all native to Honduras, the birthplace of owner and fourth-generation coffee farmer Al Lopez. The vibrant blue on their packaging and products is inspired by the Honduran flag and, perhaps most importantly, their business is inspired by the desire to support farmers in the region and grow coffee sustainably with eco-friendly and ethically sound practices.
These kinds of fascinating stories are worth telling. With a brand that vividly encapsulates your personality, values, and vision, you need to make your logo both recognizable as well as ubiquitous throughout your business. Companies like Alma Coffee and New Belgium Brewing accomplish this in part through an excellent selection of branded clothing, mugs, growlers, and other neat merchandise. Not only does it demonstrate a logical cohesive effort, it also shows the pride that you have in your identity as a brewer.
As a brewery, you should consider decorating more than just your apparel with that slick logo. It also makes sense to incorporate both branded plastic cups and branded glassware into your business plan. Plastic cups are cheap, easy to store and recycle, and look excellent with a simple, crisp logo superimposed over ice cold beer. Custom glassware offers an even more professional image, but If you don’t like the idea of sweeping up broken glass – and that’s perfectly understandable – then simply offer them as merchandise. Maybe even add a unique mug or growler. This can be a stealthy and effective way to build your customer base, as one of your regulars might impress their friends while pouring a fresh beer into newly purchased drinkware from your brewery.
Without a meaningful brand vision to sell to your customers, they’re far less likely to become a true fan of your product. So whether you’re just starting out or looking for new ways to spread awareness for your brand, make sure you’re proudly telling your story and expressing your core values. Get in touch with Your Brand Cafe today and start creating exciting new ways to promote your brand identity!