How to Launch a Successful Craft Beer Brand
As a craft brewer, marketing your brand is one of your biggest challenges. I’m betting that, like most craft brewers, you didn’t get into this business because you were passionate about the business stuff, you got into this business because you’re passionate about brewing the best beer on Earth.
There are many craft brewers that have great products but are struggling to succeed in business because they don’t have a strong brand.
As the number of craft breweries grows, it’s becoming harder and harder for consumers to choose which breweries to visit, which beer to purchase and which growlers to collect. Now more than ever, it’s critical that you successfully differentiate your brand and your beer.
Many breweries with horrible branding have amazing beer, and conversely a lot of the breweries with really great branding with mediocre beer. The problem with bad branding on great beer is that you have a disconnect—people might not give your beer a chance because they think the poor branding and label design equals poor beer.
Craft beer drinkers are much more discerning, curious and adventurous than other beer drinkers. They want facts, history, and bragging rights. They’re amateur reviewers and wannabe experts — sometimes they’re even real experts, and they want to know the story about what makes your beer special.
Successful Beer Package Design
What’s the first step to successful craft beer brands? Great Beer. It’s expensive to convince people that crappy beer is good (ever wonder why Budweiser spends so much money on advertising…). With great beer and a great brand, you’ll spend a lot less time and effort on advertising and trying to convince consumers to buy your beer.
The Brewers Association lists, “Shelf Appeal” as one of the main selling points to craft beer. This not only refers to the individual label design, but the appeal of the “brand family” of beers and the point of sale pieces. Products from the same supplier should be designed to look good together because a mishmash of packaging—different styles and sizes of bottles, different shapes of six and four-pack carriers mixed in with each other is messy and not visually appealing.
Professional package designers are experts in balancing the shelf appeal (design and messaging) as well as the functional as aspect of food product safety, protection on the store shelf, and find-ability—which allows consumers to navigate to what they’re looking for with minimal effort.
One of the advantages you have as a craft brewer is your genuine passion about your beer and your company. People buy from brands that they trust, and when they feel they are experiencing something authentic, it creates brand loyalty.
Use figurative language and strong verbs, interject a sense of fun and excitement, and tailor your story to your audience. You should never be afraid of adding a little tension or conflict, and never be afraid to let your passion shine through. The craft beer industry doesn’t take itself too seriously. And why should it? Beer is fun! It’s for kicking back: vacations, parties, holidays, BBQ’s and beaches. People are attracted to brands that tell this story.
Branding a Brewery
A successful craft brewery starts with passion and strategic branding. A successful brand identity should accurately reflect a brand’s core character. This involves carefully cultivating your; vision, mission, tone-of-voice, name, logo, labels, bottles, packaging etc. Learn More about Branding
It’s not as easy or as simple as you might think. Yes, you can write a sentence. But does that make you a professional writer worthy of a position on the Bestseller List? The same is true when it comes to branding. Sure, you can come up with a great name and you’ve got a niece who can design a logo… but will that name stand the test of time, and can your niece also help you define all the points where your brand comes into contact with consumers and potential consumers, can she make sure that the logo and identity communicate the core values and promise of your brand? Taphouses, Websites, Liquor stores, Facebook Pages, Tweets, Magazines, Events and Salespeople all need to present a consistent brand message that reinforces you brand promise. To become a successful craft brewery, you’ll need to address all of these factors in the brand development stage.
Successful Breweries Craft Great Beer
You craft brewers spend as much time thinking about how to present your beers to the public as you do brewing them. What if you developed a strong brand that could do all the talking for you? More time for creating great beer!
Here are a few of our faves:
Back Country Brewing opened it’s brewery in Squamish BC in 2017 and was awarded Rookie of the Year at the 2017 BC Beer Awards. We like the branding and packaging because of it’s distinctive label, use of the lantern and it’s link to backcountry camping and the brands’ positioning to the outdoor enthusiast, so key to it’s Squamish location.
Feel the “Liquid Aloha” literally. Kona Brewing company is rolling out new custom bottles for their entire line of Kona Brews. The new 12oz. bottle will be embossed with a Hawaiian Island Chain and “Liquid Aloha” lettering, complete with refreshed labels and packaging. Kona Brewing is delivering more of that sense of place that Kona is known for, and I think this new bottle and package really brings Hawaii home.
Whistler Brewing Company has a strong reputation as a true BC brewery. The style of their brand identity is warm, fresh and natural, mixed with some old school Whistler nostalgia. The illustrations on each brew features playful scenes of local animals and vivid local scenery.
Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, headquartered in Redlands, California, began with a love of flying and a passion for good beer. A licensed pilot, company founder Ben Cook launched his brewery in 2007 in a warehouse adjacent to the local airport and aptly named the business Hangar 24. The logo pays homage to America’s golden age of flight. Just like his favorite airplanes, Ben Cook’s Hangar 24 brand quickly soared.