I heard a great TED Talk the other day that discussed authenticity’s role in branding. The idea that caught my attention was that the more ubiquitous something becomes (say, a craft brewery), the more likely we are to think of it as being mass produced, less special and less “real.” Even if the reason that company became more commonplace is due to having a great product, service and story.
This immediately made me think of craft beer and the unfortunate phenomenon we see of people supporting and championing new breweries until they start to become more well-known. Breweries are only cool as long as they’re a unique, special thing you and your friends can share. You’ve seen a similar, groan-worthy trend in Indie music circles for decades.
So what can we take away from this? What can breweries do to ensure early fans remain with them for many, many years?
Let’s start by digging into what it means to be authentic itself. Is it tied to quantitative things like a ceiling on beer production? Your corporate structure? How many people you employ? Does being VC-backed versus bootstrapping your brewery matter?
For the sake of this thought, I’d say it’s tied more to qualitative things like your positioning and brand essence. Does your name tell a compelling story? How about your packaging?
How can you remain authentic while growing?
The most important thing you can do is not lose track of your brand essence as you grow. What’s the compelling story behind you opening up shop? Why should people love you and your beer? What makes you special? What do you stand for? If you can keep telling that story in a clear way, you’ll keep your loyal fans and continue attracting new ones.
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.
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