We travel all over the country helping craft breweries with branding, positioning and marketing. Aside from being a whole lot of fun, this puts us in a unique position to see what does and doesn’t work in beer branding in real-time. For today’s post, we thought it could be cool to look at some of the quickest things you can do, right now, to ensure your brewery’s branding is running on all cylinders.
Starting out, the most important thing you need to do is to dispense with the notion that branding is necessary for your brewery to stand out among 4,000 other craft breweries and counting. That’s what your IPA is for. Standing out.
With that in mind, don’t even bother making a killer logo. Just steal a hop illustration from Google and call it a day. If you feel the need for a more professional look, just use one of those cheap online logo design sites. I mean, why pay some fancy pants design firm a million bucks for something you can get for a few bucks from a kid overseas who’s not even old enough to drink your beer?
Oh, and all those trade articles about how the world is running out of beer and brewery names … complete hogwash. Just pick something cool and run with it. Maybe “Dogfish Head” or “New Glarus.” They can pry that name from your cold, sued hands. Right?
Don’t worry about having a compelling origin story. That’s for suckers who can’t brew great beer.
Make sure your website is NOT responsive. Granted, even the cheapest template will likely be responsive, go ahead and hard code that bad boy yourself. Dust off that Flash book that you use to prop open the garage window every time you homebrew and get to work. Make sure to include several under construction gifs. And maybe a badass Gandalf background.
And no matter what you do, make sure your email address DOES NOT match your url. It’s far more professional to use a Hotmail account. Show those distributors you mean business.
Share memes on all your social media channels. Memes show people that you’re “hip” and “with it.”
While we’re on this topic, Instagram and Twitter are over. Make sure to set up a Google Plus account and link it to your Christian Mingle profile for optimal cross pollination. And if you absolutely must have a Facebook page, try to update it at least once a year. Again, memes are good.
Merch is dumb. If people want to support you, DO NOT make it easy for them with frivolous things like T-shirts and hats. And don’t even think about stickers.
Business cards are also dumb. This is 2016, man. We can just use that Bump app. Remember Bump? The app that allows us to share contact info by touching our phones together? Don’t worry, I don’t use my phone in the bathroom, and I’m sure you don’t either.
Why buy growlers when you can reuse old milk jugs? Boom, just saved you three grand.
Be sexist. Be absurdly sexist. Be so sexist that even free speech advocates are taken aback. Women don’t drink craft beer anyway, bro.
Host Juggalo night one or maybe six nights a week.
Make sure to belittle anyone who asks why all your beer is cloudy and tastes like soap. And why you’re serving it to them in old milk jugs. Haters, the whole lot.
If someone comes into your tasting room and asks for a Bud Light, you could use that as a teaching moment and offer them something similar. Or, you could do the badass thing and let them know how dumb they are for wanting to drink something they’re familiar with and enjoy.
Also, be even more sexist. Design beer labels that you’d be ashamed to show your mom. And if you want to expedite this process, don’t bother sending those bad boys to the TTB for approval. The government doesn’t belong on your
horribly designed and sexist awesome labels.
Get drunk at work. Every day. Not a little buzzed. Not one-beer-more-than-you-should’ve-had, but sloppy drunk. Then, fraternize with patrons. That small group of people in the corner? Yeah, the group that looks like they’re from out of town and visiting old friends … they’d love to hear about your favorite conspiracy theories. That guy over there, compliment his tie!
That about wraps this up. If you’ve made it this far, you’re already ahead of the game and well on your way to having the coolest brewery around. Good luck!
This terribly thought-provoking April 1 column comes via the smart folks at CODO Design, a five-man branding and web design firm located on the Old Northside of Indianapolis. 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.