In our last post, we wrote about the importance of branding and positioning for new craft breweries. We discussed how to make yourself stand out in a crowded marketplace and touched on the need to align this idea with your branding — things like your identity, package design and responsive website. Another important ingredient in this process is finding and energizing your audience, or perhaps, helping them find and support you.
More often than not when branding an organization, whether in craft beer or any other industry, we’ll be told that everyone is in their audience. “We want to be inclusive!” This is one of our favorite inside jokes, along with, “Oh, we don’t have any competition.”
While a lot of craft breweries have the noble goal of getting more people drinking good beer, it’s important to realize that your audience isn’t everyone. It can’t be. By telling a compelling story through branding and positioning, you’re going to connect with a certain kind of person. And if you do it properly — through great beer, branding, marketing and service — they’ll be your biggest fans and evangelists.
In fact, if you really do this properly, you may even turn some people off. But that’s OK; that’s part of this. You can’t be everything to everyone. The same beer that interests a 55-year-old, seasoned homebrewer may not resonate with a 22-year-old woman who’s just getting into better beer. Figure out how you differ from other breweries, figure out who’ll go crazy for your experience and start delivering. These are your people.
By trying to be everything to everyone, you’ll end up with watered-down messaging, and even worse, watered-down beer. You’ll become bland — another me-too brewery. And who wants that?
Some things to noodle on…
1. What type of beer gets you excited? If you only brew beer you’re passionate about, people will take notice. Your beer will be better, and this care will directly translate to your excited customers.
2. Do your homework. What other breweries are open (or opening) in your market? What makes them special? Who buys from them? Do these breweries target the promiscuous craft beer drinking masses or are they offering more of a niche beer?
3. Who do you (and don’t you) want drinking your beer? Do you want to reach craft beer newbies with a refreshing cream ale or target grizzled craft beer drinking vets looking for high octane, bourbon barrel one-off experiments? Your branding and design (and of course, your beer) can directly influence who buys your product.
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.