I remember about six years ago when a few breweries started to open up in my town. It was interesting to watch as each one attracted a horde of people wanting to work in whatever capacity, for whatever pay was available — mopping floors, filling growlers, checking IDs — anything. And their payment was often as simple as a growler fill for every hour worked. To people outside of this industry that may seem absurd, but if you love craft beer, and the people who make it, you understand that the real payment wasn’t just a few growlers, it was the opportunity to be a part of something they love.
If you’ve been following our series on Craft Brewing Business, you already know the public side of branding. That is, how to differentiate your brewery and turn this idea into a compelling story to attract new fans. But we wanted to explore another benefit of understanding your core values, your “why” and your brand essence, to create an awesome company culture that will attract and retain the best people in your community.
The idea of “company culture” has been sullied a bit as of late with visions of Silicon Valley tech startups slinging Nerf darts at each other across foosball tables, but I promise it’s deeper than this. Your culture is driven by your core values and brand essence. It’s why you brew your beer the way you do. It’s your workplace environment. It’s working together to solve problems that arise, celebrating victories and working through failures as a team. Your culture is driven and shaped by the amount of ownership your people can take in the brand. It unites and aligns everyone, from the owners and head brewers to the sales and marketing people to the volunteers filling growlers to the delivery driver, behind one compelling story.
And this shouldn’t be forced. Yes, there are corny manifestations out there, but your people should be excited to get up in the morning and go to work. They should be buzzed about it and tell their friends and family about what they do and bring them into the brewery nonstop.
Here are a few things to think about as you begin to consider your brewery’s culture
1. What are your core values? (don’t be shy, list everything)
4. Do you give employees freedom to take ownership of your brand? (through social media, sales, events, etc.)
5. How engaged is your audience? (new mentions and check ins every day?)
6. Describe your ideal employee.
7. Describe your brewery/workplace. (including things that most customers can’t see)
8. How does your team work together to solve problems?
Company culture is something that tends to form organically, but it can be shaped. As with anything, you need to write that story. If you’re in a leadership role, you need to brew the best beer possible, treat people well and have a firm grasp on your origin story. If you can do these things, you’re halfway there. The rest begins from the day you open up shop and continues as long as you’re in business. It’s the continual telling of your story and ultimately shapes who you are, what you do and why you matter.
This column was provided by the folks at CODO Design, a five-man branding firm based in Indianapolis, IN. They’ve spent years working with startup craft breweries on naming, branding and positioning, responsive web design, and package design. They’ve gathered their experience into a comprehensive Craft Beer Branding Guide to help startup breweries navigate the entire branding process. Check it out at www.craftbeerbrandingguide.com.