7 Things to Keep in Mind When Branding Your Beer
Chances are, creating brands was NOT why you decided to create a craft brewery in the first place. You are a master at creating great beers, after all. But, good brand design is great at letting your product sell itself on the shelves, so you don’t have to. Branding should start when you decide to brew the beer, not after it is on tap, so don’t wait to engage with the brand process. Good branding done at the right stage will allow you to do more of what you do best — make great beers.
Here are a few things to consider when thinking about your next new product.
1: Pick a name your audience will relate to. The beer isle is filled with unusual, irreverent names. Finding one that ties to your brewery brand, let alone one that is not already in use, can be really hard. Your products are unique — so select a name that helps folks understand why they are special. Look for a name that connects with your brand: maybe it relates to the ingredients, an aspect of your brewery, the season, an emotion that the beer elicits– it helps most when it resonates with your product and your audience.
2: Your audiences are changing constantly. Once upon a time consumers had to be convinced to try beers that were ‘craft-brewed’. National mainstream beers were all they knew, and getting them to appreciate the character of craft beers was the challenge. Those days are gone (yes!). Curious customers are more willing to try new things. This raises the bar for chefs, brewmasters, winemakers, grocers, distillers and even bartenders. Your audience is more sophisticated than ever, and they are not afraid to experiment. They are not limited by income or other demographics, and they continue to refine their preferences as they get more knowledgeable about craft beer. A successful brewery brand has a strategy that allows itself to remain relevant and adapt in an evolving beer market.
3: Start early. While brewing and branding seem like different tasks, they should really start at the same time, and work in tandem. Branding should start when the beer or spirit begins life, so that the identity can grow and is ready for roll-out when your beer is. You don’t need to create the whole brand design immediately, but don’t do a throw-away label just as a place-holder — this will work against your branding later when consumers see a disconnect in the visuals. Get your designer in the mix when your taste-master dreams up a new product, or when you’re envisioning how to lay out your tasting room. That way they’ll be able to create a visual that compliments the beer’s attitude and the perspective of its creator. The design will also have a higher chance of fitting with the brewery brand story.
4: Make sure the packaging reflects the passion that went into the product. Boring labels are for boring national brands. Consumers taste with their eyes, so it’s important to make sure your brand shows off the passion that went into the creation of the beer. It is equally important to make sure each label looks like a professional, high-quality product, and is easy to discern from your competition. Many products fall short on the shelves because they are too eccentric. There’s a fine line between quirky-cool and quirky-weird. Your audience is willing to spend more for a product that looks well-made and is still filled with character.
5: Think big-picture. Visual consistency is vitally important from day one. Application of the new design can start with just a tap handle or growler, but keep in mind that if it is well received in the tasting room it may soon live on the label, 6-pack, website, menu, signage, social media, t-shirts, cases, and line-extension products too. The more places the design appears, the more it is recognized, and the bigger the brand will grow.
6: Custom caps and neck labels will help sell more beer. The more square inches you can brand on a bottle, can, 6-pack or 12 pack, the more folks will experience the complete brand picture. Bottling and canning lines may limit your labeling options, but it may be a worthwhile investment when you compare with increased sales. Look for elements of your packaging that can be customized to highlight the specialness of each beer. Packaging can be expensive to produce, but neck labels, caps, even unique design elements on the 6-packs can help add a differentiator to your package. Finding those little details of customization can make the difference between looking like a boring brand and an irresistible microbrew.
7: Your new product will start on tap, but needs to thrive on the web. People have the ability to find out everything they can about your brewery and products before they visit. Creating a handsome and intuitive web experience will help sell your products and fill the seats in front of your taps. Make sure your website is simple, consistent with your brand story, and works on everyone’s device.
Iron Design specializes in branding, and we’re ready to help take your beer to the next level. For 15 years, we have helped successful craft brewers and distillers create product names, logos, messaging strategy, packaging, websites and merch. Give us a shout – we’d love to stop by, share a pint and find out more about what makes your products great.