If you are in the craft brewing business, you are really in the branding business. There are so many craft beers on shelves and taps across the country — what are you doing to stand out? Bob Morehouse, chief executive officer of Vermilion, a full-spectrum integrated design and interactive agency based in Boulder, Colo., sent out some quick branding tips that might be useful for you to consider before launching that next great year-round or seasonal beverage.
- Even in this day of technological over-reach, strong brands have an enormous advantage over their upstart brethren. Morehouse said his team starts brainstorming in brand strategy workshops to create, fine tune, evolve or juice up the brand. In these, they look to map out an integrated communication strategy that understands the competitive landscape, speaks to the customer and positions the company in a memorable way.
- The most challenging task for this team is the initial creation of the name and identity of a brand. Is it a slogan or a logo or a signature product that will be the true memorable hook of your brand? Will it be the atmosphere? The creative marketing campaigns or customer interaction? This should take the longest time, but also provide the biggest reward for your company.
- Moving out of the high level and into the nitty gritty of establishing that brand, obviously Morehouse places the focus on the web. Start with your site, by making it engaging and informative. It should be an extension of that naming/identity you settled on earlier. Vermilion uses open source platforms and modern content management systems that allow sites to breathe and grow at the same pace as your company.
- From the site, move the messaging out into social media. As Morehouse put it: “Build it and they will come no longer applies because many of your customers are spending more time on social sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn than on the actual web.” A strong social media presence serves many purposes, but most importantly it gives you a feel for your customers, increases your communication reach (cheaply), makes messages timely and extends the reach of your network.
- Morehouse also said not to give up traditional forms of advertising, in print and in other local media. You might not see the direct, tangible return on investment, but that consistent advertising will keep you visible and deeply establish the brand name/identity you created earlier.
“They say print is dead, but those same people probably predicted radio was dead, too,” Morehouse said. “We’re producing beautiful brochures for a wide range of clients, and there’s nothing like it to build a brand. Invitations catch your attention. And with today’s digital technologies, elaborate color printing works for the smallest of quantities.”
- Maybe more appropriate for many craft brewers is the importance of branding on packaging. There are a ton of ways to take packaging concepts, but Morehouse says, across industries, the main trends are eco-friendly, minimalist packaging.
“Consumer products rely on their packages more than any other medium to speak to the consumer and differentiate from the competition. For years, packaging has been a cornerstone of Vermilion’s design practice,” he said.
For nearly 30 years, Vermilion has been providing distinctive and effective solutions to a wide range of clients, with a particular emphasis on work for nonprofit, educational, scientific and civic organizations.