Craft Beer Branding: Five Steps to Success

This is the second in a series of four Biz Wire posts focused purely on craft beer branding. The Bizability Group recently hosted Brewing A Beer Buzz: The Secrets of Successful Craft Beer Branding, a craft beer branding seminar at Chapman University, and each of these craft beer branding pieces will highlight information from that seminar as well as incorporating current branding trends from across the country.

Lists. Everyone loves a good list, and this list of the Five Steps to Successful Craft Beer Branding is bound to be no different. Just a little hoppier.

So let’s begin.

Five Steps to Successful Craft Beer Branding

  1. Craft A Story. In our last installment, Craft Beer Branding: It Starts With A Story, we explained how a story is the beginning of a good brand. So, no surprise: it is the official first step of the Five Steps to Successful Craft Beer Branding, and since we’ve already discussed it previously, we’ll keep this mention of it brief. So here we go. You’ve heard the old Young Veteran Brewing Company craft beer brandingreal estate adage about the three most important things to consider when buying a property, but there’s a similar adage for storytelling: 1.) keep it interesting; 2.) keep it interesting; and 3.) keep it interesting.  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. For an example of a great craft beer brand story, check out Young Veterans Brewing Company. 
  2. Craft A Brand Promise. Now, take the why you started this business from your story and craft a brand promise. Your why you started this business should contain the mention of a significant value being delivered by your business. If it doesn’t, redo it. If it does, take that value and build your promise to deliver that value through all of your business activities. You must let your customers know what to expect from your brand, and then you must never let them down. A 2004 study from the Journal of Consumer Research showed that credibility was one of the biggest elements driving brand consideration. At our Bizability Group  Brewing A Beer Buzz: The Secrets of Successful Craft Beer Branding seminar, Tyler Kemp from Golden Road Brewing conveyed the brewery’s brand promise as: We are LA’s own regional craft brewery focused on great beer and active outdoor lifestyles, and we seek to include the next wave of craft consumers in our process and journey.
  3. Choose Your Brand Identities. Craft beer branding has some aspects that are unique to the industry. However, choosing brand identities for a craft beer brand is similar to choosing brand identities for other consumer products. First, a good brand identity should accurately reflects a brand’s core character. Carefully choose your brand identities such as your name, your logo, your bottle labels, your bottles and growlers, your tap handles, and your keg collars. It’s not as easy or as simple as you might first 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 come to brand identities. Sure, you can come up with a great name and you’ve got a buddy who can draw a sweet logo, but take the advice of a sage brewer like John Rockwell at LA Ale Works: “Get professional help.”
  4. Identify and Tailor Touch Points. This is a really big step, one that can make or break your brand. You need to define all the points where your brand comes into contact with consumers and potential consumers, and then you need to make sure that those touch points communicate the core values and promise of your brand. Tasting rooms, websites, blogs, Facebook posts, tweets, servers and salespeople–they all need to present a consistent brand message that reinforces you brand promise. This step requires a lot of work, and that alone could be the reason that there are hundreds of thousands of mediocre brands, but very few great brands. Many people think craft beer branding is easy. This step proves it isn’t. Do it right and you’ll have a shot at being a great brand.
  5. Implement, Test and Adjust.  Step five emphasizes one thing: a craft beer brand is a work in progress. You must implement your employee training and implement your plans for touch point encounters as identified in the previous step. You must contact professionals for help with your brand identity. Moving forward is great, but it’s not the whole picture. Craft beer branding requires consumer surveys (what do employees think of your brand, or their tasting room experience?). Once you have the survey results, you need to fine tune and adjust your brand messaging and touch point encounters. Maybe you even discover that your promise needs to be adjusted. The main point here is this: Check to see if what you are doing is building a great brand, and then adjust accordingly.

These Five Steps For Craft Beer Branding require great effort and true professionalism. Approach these steps with that attitude, and you could have the next great craft beer brand.

The next installment of our craft beer branding blog series will focus on the types of professional branding help available to craft beer brewers.

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