Here at Great Little Box Company, we’re in the business of helping companies put their products in the packages that help fuel their success. And we have a special place in our hearts for our craft brewery clients. All businesses, of course, need distinctive packaging that’s true to their brand. But in the craft beer space, increasing competition necessitates seriously powerful and thoroughly considered branding.
We love putting our heads together with craft brewery clients to figure out the packaging part of their branding process. But truthfully, we know that a craft beer brand is always better positioned to succeed when it’s built strategically from the ground up. In other words, a competitive craft beer brand is never an afterthought. It’s the result of careful planning.
That’s why we’re publishing a three-part series on building better craft beer brands. Our extensive experience in this space has given us some insight into this critically important process, and we’re so happy to share it.
In this post, we’ll give some tips on kickstarting your craft beer brand by defining its essence.
What’s a “brand essence”?
The brand essence is the “big idea” behind your brewery. It’s the identity that helps it to express itself visually through brand assets like a logo. But it’s about so much more than the visual. It helps to guide everything about the business, from its name to the way it serves customers.
For example, one of our clients, Red Truck Beer Company, has a message that captures their brand essence really well. They say that they are “built on the values of a simpler time.” And this “simpler time” is defined as an era when “you didn’t need a dictionary to order a drink when trucks went to work, not to the mall, and a handshake was a contract.” With this, they’re clearly expressing their essence as a brewery that caters to people with working-class values who like an “old school” approach. Their brand essence is down to earth, traditional, and honest.
Defining the brand essence
So, how can you define your brand essence? Here are a few steps you can take:
- Identify your “WHY”
Simon Sinek said it best: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
So, ask yourself, “Why a craft brewery?” What’s the story behind your decision to create this business, out of all the businesses you could create? This is a great way to start digging deep and finding out what really makes your brand tick.
- List the core values
What is your business all about? What do you and your other stakeholders care so much about that you just can’t compromise on it?
Take Red Truck as an example. It’s safe to say that “traditional” and “integrity” are core values for this brewery. These values lead them to brew beer “with no preservatives, pasteurization, or shortcuts.” Even if they could make more money by taking a shortcut, they won’t! Tradition and integrity define their very essence as a company.
So, to list your core values, write down 10 to 15 words that best express what your brewery will not compromise on. Then whittle that list down to the most important 3-5.
- Put your brand essence into words
Once you’ve defined your “why” and listed your core values, you want to find a way to easily communicate your brand’s essence. The words you use to describe this essence can be strictly internal, or they can filter down into your branding and marketing.
Red Truck can say their brand is “built on the values of a simpler time”. How can you express what your brand is about just as confidently and clearly?
To get there, try talking with your stakeholders, from investors to customers, about what the brand stands for. Ask yourself and other questions like:
- Why do we matter?
- How can we make our customers’ lives better?
- What makes us different?
- Who would be proud to drink our beer?
The essence is step one
Hopefully, this has given you some insight and actionable approaches for kickstarting a truly compelling craft beer brand. We want nothing but success for our craft brewery clients, and we know success starts with strategic thinking.
Next time, we’ll talk about positioning the brand. And after that, we’ll dig into branding and packaging. Until then, cheers!
Links to the Entire Blog Series
From Core Values to Cartons: How to Brand Your Craft Beer Brewery, Part One
From Core Values to Cartons: How to Brand Your Craft Beer Brewery, Part Two
From Core Values to Cartons: How to Brand Your Craft Beer Brewery, Part Three