Feels like we spend all year harping on the importance of marketing and branding, so let’s close out 2016 by looking at some of the campaigns and concepts that caught our eye.
The design industry tends to use environmental design, exhibition design and spatial design interchangeably. We’ll spare you the industry lecture (with all its tribal language and trappings), and simply say that this is the act of viewing your brewery as an immersive, three-dimensional brand experience. This oft-overlooked portion of your brand can help tell your story and make your brewery more pleasant to patronize. Way-showing signage and thoughtful spatial design fosters better customer service and creates a lasting impression that’ll keep people coming back.
Now, maybe this isn’t new. We’re not promotion historians. Maybe somewhere else among the 4,000+ breweries that exist a handful of them have done something similar. This is the first we’ve heard of this promotion, and Triemert is calling it “Beer Amnesty” for crappy beers:
Residents of Nebraska’s largest city are invited to bring in their less desirable offerings — typically leftover from friends — and trade up for Brickway beer, no questions asked.
Brewing handcrafted beers for over 20 years, Bear Republic Brewing Co. has recently expanded on its barrel-aged program with the introduction of its Wild Club, an exclusive, members-only club.
“We want our members to fall in love with the passion and creativity of our team and the expression that comes through in the beer,” said Wild Club Manager Frances Kruger.
There are two club levels available, Wild Club and Wild VIP. There is no fee to become a member, customers just pay for the beer each shipment and enjoy the perks.
San Luis Obispo (or SLO Town) is one of California’s oldest communities, and its historic downtown is home to SLO Brewing Co., the longest running brewpub in the area since prohibition and an amazing concert venue, feeding the edgy tastes of audiophiles from nearby Cal Poly.
After closing the doors of its beloved Garden Street brewpub last December, SLO Brew recently announced the highly anticipated opening of its new location on Higuera Street in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo. Just steps away from its former location, SLO Brew is debuting a music partnership with The Knitting Factory Presents, a menu curated by Chef Thomas Fundaro and new craft beer flavors. That’s on top of its beautiful locale.
Before we forget, SLO Brew also opened up a production plant just on the outskirts of town called The Rock, replete with a new canning line. The brewery will start to package beyond kegs for the first time since opening in 1998. Rock and roll, right?
Amid the expanded distribution, big bucks transactions and market share growth think pieces, never forget that the true foundation of the craft beer industry is in that local connection. We never forget this because every day we are hit with dozens of brewery announcements promoting a small festival or speciality release party or some other cool gimmick for its loyal fans. There are too many great examples to discuss, but every now and then one jumps out that we want to share.
Yazoo Brewing officially opened its doors to sell kegs of Yazoo Pale Ale, Dos Perros, Spring Wheat and Onward Stout to local bars and restaurants in Nashville in 2003. In 2009, Yazoo brewed Tennessee’s first ever legal high-gravity ale after getting its distillery license. After six years, it was time to move into a bigger space. Yazoo beer can now be found in most of Tennessee and Mississippi and was one of the first breweries to really embrace the sour, wild ale craze before it got big. The Yazoo Embrace The Funk (ETF) program is a series of wild and sour beers aged in various types of oak ranging from six months to three years.
Beer and music just go together. Whether it is bands collaborating with breweries on new beers, brewers branding a beer after their favorite tunes — or even breweries creating their own music — there are constant innovations happening that mesh craft beer and music. Here are some headlines to prove my statement.
- Ninkasi Brewing opens music studio, releases first EP
- Guided by Dogfish: Brewery celebrates Guided by Voices indie rock album with indie beer
- The String Cheese Incident’s Kyle Hollingsworth releases beer alongside solo album
- Brooklyn Brewery launches U.K. record label
- Crown and Fort George Brewery engage customers with music-focused cans
A new project collaboration between The Lights Out, a music and light project that takes people on a journey through parallel worlds, and Aeronaut Brewing Co. is taking the beer/music tandem to the next level. The outcome is T.R.I.P., a sci-fi album and beer adventure.
The term franchise feels antithetical to the craft beer industry, but with the right mission, a franchise can help further the long-term growth of the industry. Part of what makes a franchise feel sterile or inauthentic (i.e. anti-craft) is how the model traditionally works: create a homogeneous experience and product that can be easily replicated across the country. That wide spread tactic just screams Big Beer, but if you keep the strategy of spreading a single concept far and wide, and infuse it with craft beer — viola, you have exposed more people to the craft beer experience.
We know some chains like TGI Fridays and the like are featuring more craft beers on their tap lists, but there are other growing franchises making craft beer integral to their brand, which is cool.
Beer needs women; women love beer. It’s the wise beer business that wants to – and does – invite them into this delicious conversation. In How To Market Beer To Women: Don’t Sell Me A Pink Hammer, I’ve compiled direct female beer consumer and buyer insight (read: data) from women across America in what their relationship with beer is and what they want it to be.
Wait a minute – what? Women have a relationship with beer? Yes, indeed they do. And all of us in the industry need to recognize all taste buds are ours to serve and not get hung up on gender of the drinker. Women are a robust market to tap into for those who understand they’re waiting for all the flavors and wonder of beer.
Comics and craft: Virginia’s Heroic Aleworks creates the Justice League of beer (check out this artwork and Q&A)
Art, style, storytelling, a guy who grows into a giant green humanoid because the world drives him crazy — comic books encapsulate some of our favorite forms of recreation — but their entertainment value also has ripple effects. Comics raise super readers, they empower writers (like these dudes) and they’ve even been known to inspire a business or two (say, a multibillion-dollar movie industry). When Tim Hoke was looking to brand his soon-to-open brewery in Woodbridge, Va., he was similarly inspired by a stack of stories that put his creative powers into super mode.
After defining your brewery’s values, brand essence and core messages, you can begin transitioning into the visual side of the house. Our next step on this path is to articulate your brand’s personality. We’ve found the best way to tackle this is to think of your brewery as a living, breathing person. Then, you’re simply defining what personality traits that person has. Understanding these attributes will pave the way for your next step — brand identity design.
Did you know that yesterday was National Lollipop Day? It was also International Chess Day and Moon Day and Nap Day and Ugly Truck Contest Day. Unless you have an annoying co-worker with a calendar that promotes such things, you probably had no idea. But somehow, for some reason, those “days” took place, and every day there is another list of silly celebrations. As silly as this is, some of them could be a quick way to grab a couple more customers on those slower week nights.
Rockford, Ill.’s Prairie Street Brewing Co. just released an impressive new video intended to tell the story of the many facets of the company’s business — from making beer to offsite catering. We love the Miles Nielsen’s “The Grain” song. We love the beautiful camera work, and we love how Prairie uses this as a serious sales tool to sell its Dockside Taproom, wildly popular Thursday Night “Dinner on The Docks” and its many events spaces in which weddings, meetings and other special events are hosted. Should your brewery be doing something similar? Yeah, probably.
A quality-conscious, ingredients-heavy ale isn’t that cheap to make, and nothing is really that cheap to make, distribute and sell for a small business. That’s reflected in the price of craft. It ain’t cheap, and everyone must get their cut (just look at the profit breakdown of a bottle of beer). But even a premium product like craft beer should consider consumers who prefer to spend less money. It’ll be an excellent way to stand out from the craft competition.
Meet Pat. He’s been with us for over 4 yrs and sometimes on the bottler he zones out. Happiest guy ever! pic.twitter.com/PNBt8dYiQq
— Highlander Brew Co. (@HighlanderBrew) June 9, 2016
Money is tight. Capital is tied up in equipment and product. You’re paying the bills and making some decent dough, but maybe you don’t have a huge marketing budget. So, let’s just say that snagging Benicio Del Toro to look bored yet still cool in your national TV commercials is probably out of the question. You, craft brewer, need to be a little more clever with your time and money. Even the big craft brands understand that social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest and Something Awful (What? Just me?) are key, word-of-mouth recommendation communities that can generate a ton of free-ish marketing buzz about your brands. Just check out all these cool mini videos we found on Twitter. They engage with fun, intimacy, education and (thus) more interest in your brand.
Schlafly Beer, the largest locally owned and independent craft brewery in Missouri, launched a new marketing plan that shoots messages directly to customers upon entering the building. Schlafly patrons can download the new Schlafly mobile app, which interacts with exclusive on-premise beacon technology, to receive notifications about drink specials, tasting notes, new beer releases and more when it matters most — when they are about to order a beer.
Within the news release, the company calls Blue Moon “the No. 1 craft brand in America.” Such claims have led to at least one customer suing the company, citing deceptive marketing practices. As of yet, courts have not agreed, although the tax code might officially decide this “craft beer” debate at some point. While we are skeptical of Blue Moon being dubbed a “craft beer” — in the idea that craft beer companies promote community, environmentalism, charity, small businesses, fellow brewers and experimental brewing — we might be OK with parent company MillerCoors promoting it as craft.
We first met Derek Fernholz and Blake Thompson a few months prior to this road trip. They were friends in the beginning stages of opening a production brewery in Sioux Falls. They had a solid business plan, funding in place and even had a location pinned down. What they didn’t have was a name, brand identity or package design. Adding further drama to this story is that they had already gone through an unsuccessful branding process with another firm before reaching out to CODO. And they had nothing to show for it — no name, no positioning or branding, no package design, nothing. Just the hollow feeling of throwing a briefcase filled with money off of the tallest, coldest most desolate mountain peak.
With the Bay Area brewing landscape more crowded than ever, newcomer Harmonic Brewing knew that they would have to offer the community more than a perfect beer to distinguish themselves. To get a leg up on the competition, the brewery needed an innovative marketing approach to create a bigger, contagious customer experience that would lead to more revenue streams.