Every time we work with a client, our challenge is to help their brand shine with packaging that truly expresses who they are as a company. We know this is part of what will help that brand to succeed and we take the responsibility seriously.
Because our craft beer clients are entering an increasingly competitive space, we decided to create a series of posts about building better craft beer brands. Our years of experience in the craft brewery market have given us lots of insights and strategies and we wanted to share them. After all, our clients’ success is our success.
In our first blog of the series, we discussed defining your brand essence, and in this post, we’ll talk about brand positioning.
A quick review of brand essence
Brand essence is the identity that directs how your company expresses itself. It guides everything, from your logo, to the style of beer you brew, to the way your staff serves customers.
To define brand essence, we suggest:
- Figuring out your “why”, the reason you want to open this brewery
- Listing the core values that guide how you run your business, no matter what
- Putting your brand essence into words with help from all of your key stakeholders
Of course, you can get more insights and tips by reading the original post here.
Now, it’s time to talk about brand positioning, the next stage of creating a dynamic and successful craft beer brand.
What is brand positioning?
It’s all in the word. What “position” do you want to hold in the craft beer industry? What’s your “place”, the place that no other craft beer brand can occupy? In other words, what makes your craft brewery different from every other craft brewery and who are the customers you attract as a result?
Your positioning answers three critical questions:
- What do you do?
- How do you do it differently or better?
- Who do you do it for?
Defining your brand positioning
How is it done? Here’s what we suggest:
- Create a positioning matrix
Think about the other craft beer breweries in your community (or beyond, if you plan to distribute to retailers). How are they similar or different?
Here are a few things you can consider (but note that there are many more):
- Are they serving mostly approachable beers or niche beers?
- Do they have popular tasting rooms or are they focused on distributing to retailers?
- Do they have a lot of history in a community or are they new?
Once you have a few of these questions, you can put them on a positioning matrix with a simple Y and X-axis. (You can get a free positioning matrix template here.) For example, you could have one axis representing where a brewery falls on the “new or established” question.
When you plot out where your competitors fall, you can see where there are literal spaces in the matrix. For example, it might be that nobody in your community is offering an innovative brewpub with niche beers. So, that could be a position that your brewery occupies. (Just don’t forget to consider whether nobody is offering that type of brewery for a reason. Sometimes a community is just not interested or ready!)
- Get clear about who you want to serve
It’s simply not true that your craft brewery is going to be “for everyone”. If you try to appeal to “everyone”, you won’t resonate with anyone.
So, think carefully about who would drink your beer in the position you plan to occupy. And who do you want to drink your beer?
We took a look at Red Truck Beer Company in our last post; let’s consider them again. Their brand essence is “build on the values of a simpler time”. To this end, they serve approachable beers, hold fun events, and communicate in a straight-shooting “voice” in all of their branding and marketing. It’s clear that they’ve made the choice to appeal to beer drinkers with working-class, old school values, and not what might be described as a more “snooty, highbrow” beer fan.
- Write your story, craft your statement
Once you’re clear about what you do, how you do it differently, and who you do it for, it’s time to get that all on paper. Two great ways to do that are through brand stories and positioning statements.
To create a brand story, write a few paragraphs about what you’re doing, how it’s different/special, who you’re doing it for, and how it all came together. For example, check out our client Alaskan Brewing Company. Their brand is quite regional and steeped in nature and history. Their brand story captures that so well.
To craft a positioning statement, simply write a sentence that states what you do, who you do it for, and why that’s special, different, significant, or valuable. For example, Alaskan Brewing Company’s positioning statement might look like this:
Alaskan Brewing Company crafts brews that draw on its region’s rich history and ingredients for proud Alaskans who want to feel a connection with their home.
You’re well on your way to a powerful brand
Success starts with strategic thinking, especially when it comes to a craft beer brand! We hope this post, as well as our earlier post about brand essence, gets you on the right foot when it comes to creating a seriously compelling brand.
We’ll finish this series by talking about branding and packaging. In the meantime, we drink to your health!