We’ve worked with some great drinks’ brands over the years such as: Sharp’s Brewery, Cornish Orchards, Black Tor Rum and Tarquin’s Gin. Taking them to the top of their category through success branding and packaging; and keeping them there through guardianship, insights and constant brand evolution. We’ve learnt a lot along the way and share in this article our top tips for how to build a successful beer brand in today’s competitive marketplace.
Know Your Place
Let’s face it, beer drinkers are thoroughly spoilt for choice. From the giants of world beers, familiarity and tradition of cask ales, through to the pick and mix, adventures-in-taste world of craft; it’s sometimes hard to make a decision. Knowing your ‘place’ within the ‘beer universe’ helps to understand the consumers and competitors that inhabit your world, and create branding, packaging and communications that fit it perfectly.
Know Your Tribe
Who’s likely to drink your beer? Knowing, and sharing this information with your designer or creative agency – can help to build a strong brand identity that’s appealing to your ideal customer. Does your beer have wide appeal, or is it more niche? What kind of taste and experience are your consumers looking for? How and where are they likely to consume it? Are they drinking at home, with friends in the pub, for an occasion? What’s their age, life-stage, income and aspirations?
Most drinkers know the types of beer they like. They’re often loyal to a small number of brands, but can be persuaded to try new products where the branding is right. Consumers choose a beer because it aligns with their values and what they are looking for. This could be as simple as a price driven decision, taste preference, brewing method or because drinking a particular beer will imply something about their social status.
Consumers proactively (and subliminally) make judgements about a beers’ flavour, cost and social status from its looks. All brand touchpoints should deliver a consistent message about what a drinker can expect. An adventurously flavoured craft beer that’s branded like a traditional ale, or a premium lager that looks like a session ale are not signalling the right cues. This kind of mis-match between what a customer perceives, and what they actually experience, can have a detrimental effect on a brands’ image and sales.
Successful brands convey personality and know what makes them stand apart from the beers they compete with for shelf, or tap space. They confidently communicate this which strengthens brand loyalty, and attracts new customers.
Is your taste profile, aroma, mouth-feel or appearance unusual, new, different? Do you use pioneering brewing methods, or follow a well-kept secret tradition? Are you leading the charge in zero-carbon production? Do you upcycle waste ingredients? Is your beer low or no alcohol or gluten free?
Your brand is much more than a logo. It’s tone of voice, sales messaging, photography, story-telling and the interactions and experiences created for drinkers by your team.
A brand will be experienced through many different touchpoints – packaging, pump clips, advertising, website and social channels, clothing, POS, merchandise, livery and many other outputs. Every interaction is an opportunity to tell your unique story.
Aspire and Evolve
Successful beer brands don’t stand still. They react, flex and evolve as their business grows, or the environment or consumers’ needs shift. They keep an eye on their competitors and study market insights to predicate trends and changing consumer behaviours.
A great example of this is the move towards sustainability and reduction of carbon footprint. This has impacted on what materials beer brands use in their packaging and merchandise, and how they communicate their environmental credentials to consumers.
When the global pandemic hit in 2020 consumers behaviours changed radically. The on-trade environment is still adapting to a new way of serving customers. Traditionally drinkers have ordered at the bar, but table service is now more commonplace meaning brand assets like glassware, mats, trays, advertising etc have become increasing important. People are going out less and having fewer, better-quality drinks when they do, to mark the occasion. Off-trade beer sales have risen as people have been drinking more at home. All factors that are contributing to a more competitive retail space and forcing beer brands to reconsider how they show up in on-trade spaces.
You’ll never be able to compete with the plethora of beer brands out there, but you can strive for success in your corner of the cosmos. Have confidence in what your brand stands for and align your visual identity to your values to resonate with a tribe of loyal and new fans.
Cathy Fisher – Buddy Creative