When it comes to brewery marketing and branding, making delicious beer is only half the battle.
If your brewery doesn’t have solid branding, then you’ll have a tough time standing out in today’s crowded craft beer market.
Isaac Arthur, co-founder of CEDO Design in Indianapolis and a brewery marketing and branding instructor for the UVM Business of Craft Beer Program, says in order for consumers to take notice, it’s important that breweries share the “What,” the “How,” and the “Why” of their business.
“Why should people care you’re brewing beer? What makes your story compelling?” Arthur explains in a UVM Business of Craft Beer podcast interview.
About a decade ago, breweries could open and do well without strong branding. But much has changed, he says. As of 2017, it’s estimated that a new brewery opens every single day in the United States. Such explosive growth means increased competition and a need to stand out from the crowd.
Without branding and positioning, Arthur says it’s difficult for breweries to make a splash, even if they’re making outstanding beer.
“Your brand is your customers’ perception of your company, including your products and your culture. It’s their gut feeling about what you do and ultimately shapes why they either love or hate you,” Arthur writes in the Craft Beer Branding Guide, which he co-authored with Cody Fague in 2017. “Why do they think you’re different? How do they describe you to friends? Why do they (or don’t they) support you?
Meanwhile, positioning is the strategic act of defining your brewery’s core concept, main audience, and how you’re different from your competition, he writes.
The What, The How, The Why of Brewery Marketing and Branding
Simon Sinek familiarized the concept of the “What,” the “How,” the “Why” in his book, “Start with Why.” Arthur explains this concept is about having three layers to your story. Unfortunately, most breweries land somewhere between the “What” and the “How” in terms of marketing, he says. But the “Why” is key because it draws people in and creates a deep emotional connection.
Here’s an example Arthur outlines for developing the “What,” the “How,” and the “Why”:
What: “We’re a small, Belgian-focused brewery.”
How: “We use traditional Belgian brewing methods to create authentic Belgian beer.”
Why: “My great, great grandfather worked at a brewery in Belgium and I grew up hearing stories about him. I’ve wanted to be a brewer for as long as I can remember.”
Arthur points out that the “Why” is clearly more compelling than the “How” or the “What.”
Learn Brewery Marketing and Branding at UVM
Since 2009, Arthur has led branding efforts within the food and beverage industry, and spends most of his time traveling around the country helping to bring startup craft breweries and food artisans to market through foundational positioning and brand strategy, naming, package design, responsive web design, and environmental design.
He is an instructor in the Business of Craft Beer’s Marketing and Branding Your Brewery course. The craft beer online course will cover:
- Key industry trends
- Best practices in differentiating your brewery
- How to build a solid branding and marketing plan
- How to measure success and plan for the future
In today’s competitive craft beer market, Arthur says it’s important for breweries to take stock.
“List out your core values. Figure out what makes you stand out from your competition. Make sure your customers understand why you exist,” he writes in his Craft Beer Branding Guide. “Do your labels look awesome? Is your website useful? Is your beer delicious? How are you going to grow in a manner consistent with your brand?”
If you’re asking these questions, he says, then you’re on the right track.