This piece is aimed at established breweries. Whether you’ve been brewing for five years, or for 25, rebranding can be an important step to reflecting positive changes and growth to your audience. But it’s not something to be taken lightly and there are some important factors that should drive the decision. Let’s talk about some of these reasons as well as additional issues to consider before undertaking the process.
Starting off, businesses don’t rebrand just for the sake of rebranding. “Hey, it’s Tuesday. Let’s spend $50K!” There’s got to be a problem you’re trying to solve, or an opportunity you can’t pass up. Some reasons a brewery may consider rebranding:
- Your homespun look, while adored by many longtime fans, may not properly reflect your core values to new customers.
- Your identity, packaging and/or website are dated. It happens.
- Your website is barely usable and it’s got you thinking about other communication tools.
- Your competition is aggressively marketing and selling more beer than you.
- You’re going to be distributing in a new market (or you’d like to).
- You’re repositioning (new beer styles, new location, new concept/etc. )
One of the most important things to consider when looking to rebrand is taking stock of your brand equity. Basically, this is all the positive connotations, messaging and positioning you already represent to your audience. This translates to your visual identity system as well — do you “own” a certain color, typeface, texture or other visual element? Think New Belgium Brewing Co.’s iconic cruiser or Anchor Steam’s anchor and ribbon illustration.
Taking stock of your brand equity is important because it gives you a foundation for moving forward with the rebranding process. What elements are absolutely critical, and which can be jettisoned? If an update is in order, what elements do you need to maintain to ensure your current customers aren’t lost trying to find your beer on tap or on shelves?
Brand equity is determined through a larger brand audit process. This entails reviewing all of your communication channels, tools, messaging, audience(s), broader positioning and your brand essence. We wrote a piece on defining your brand essence a couple weeks ago.
And all of this is assuming you still want to maintain some elements from your initial branding. But what if you’re looking to start with a clean slate? Maybe your head brewer, due to a series of unfortunate life choices, had to fake his own death and move to Rio. Maybe a brewery across the country decides to sue you because your name kind of sounds like a one-off seasonal they brewed back in 2002. Look, it happens.
No matter the reason, if you’re looking to completely start from scratch, it’s largely the same process as defining your brand essence, only you’re not so much looking toward the past as you are toward the future and where you’d like to position your brewery.
Some things to noodle on
1. Try to pin down exactly why you want to rebrand. What communication problems are you facing on a daily basis? Get this into writing and ask other people on your team for their input as well. If you need to rebrand bad enough, you won’t be the only one who knows it.
2. What does your brewery stand for? Does your logo design, packaging and website reinforce this message? How about your advertising?
3. A brand audit can be a great way to begin this process. Hiring a design firm is critical in this process.
4. Check out New Belgium’s recent rebranding for a great example of maintaining existing brand equity and the charm of their old packaging while positioning as a top-tier craft brewery.
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.