Last time we talked about the importance of craft beverage associations and the [sales] data they report. Studies like the 50 Fastest Growing Craft Breweries from the Brewers Association help beverage makers in all areas think more strategically about opportunities to scale and expand their business. But what role does brand marketing play in growth? Today we’ll talk about the cues we give customers to help them define your brand for themselves and how that impacts sales growth.
- the basics – what is a “brand?”
- getting crafty – designing your brand story
- behind-the-curtain – examples from great brands
The team at Market Your Craft believes that a clearly-defined brand is vital to the long-term success of a craft beverage business. With nearly 20,000 licensed producers in the United States alone, there has never been a more competitive time to sell beer, wine, spirits and functional/non-alcoholic products. When liquid quality and price are at parity, today’s savvy customer looks deeper at the subtleties that make beverages different. In that arena, the building blocks of brand marketing, including company mission, voice, personality and story, could help differentiate your brand and remove obstacles to growth.
the basics – what is a “brand?”
The definition for brand has changed over the years in direct response to the explosion of media outlets and businesses adopting a “customer-first” approach. David Ogilvy, the “Father of Advertising,” in the mid-1900s described a brand as the intangible sum of a product’s attributes. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers dominated the early airwaves with advertising meant to differentiate products from their more generic competitors. In that way, the challenge facing craft beer producers today is very similar: you must stand out to survive. But that’s where the commonalities end.
Our description of successful brand marketing today is far more subjective, using words like, “thinking,” “feeling,” and “perception.” There is also the concept of time – collective exposure to or interaction with the product – and how those accumulated data points shape a person’s perspective. Recognizing that brands don’t have to mean the same thing to everyone is also important, because 1) customers don’t want to be told how to feel and 2) their feelings can change, sometimes quickly, because of outside influences. Your brand needs to be flexible and adaptable: not in a way that caters to everyone, but to be the right promise, at the right time, in the right place.
So how do we define brand? It’s more of a storytelling exercise than a one-liner. Check out our complimentary workbook with tools for designing a winning brand.
getting crafty – designing your brand story
What does it mean to provide customers with “cues” when it comes to defining a brand? First, it’s time to recognize if not already that the customer either defines your brand in a way that is meaningful to him/her or you aren’t part of the consideration set. Harsh, but true. Second, they form an opinion about you over time, so every touchpoint – packaging, retail, digital, social, press, etc. – should be on-point and reinforce a central message in order to be effective. Hopefully it’s easier now to see why a simple definition of brand is no longer possible: there are far too many factors that influence a customer’s emotional reaction to the craft beverage you’re so proud of.
The team at Market Your Craft likes to approach it from all angles, honing in on an ownable brand story that will help separate your company from the pack. We have found that beyond liquid and packaging, today’s craft beverage customer places value on the following during the purchase decision:
|Origin Story||Helps differentiate a brand from its peers and provides a business advantage when attracting new customers.|
|Mission Statement||What business value do we create for the brand when we have a fully-engaged audience?|
|Company Vision||Future-based and meant to inspire and give direction to employees of the company rather than customers.|
|Company Business||Why is the company in business? What are the core strengths? Which products or services should we stop, continue or start offering?|
|Brand Story||The brand story takes pieces from both the mission and the vision statements to shape a narrative meant to evoke an emotional response.|
|Brand Positioning||What are the benefits? How do you differ from competitors? Are you relevant? What voice do you use? What promise will you make?|
|Testing||Identify customers, stakeholders, employees, partners and other invested parties and ask them specific questions to get an early read on whether or not your refreshed brand will resonate.|
Once your brand story is clearly defined, you can address the following building blocks of a successful marketing strategy for your craft beverage brand: knowing how to talk with customers; defining content worth sharing; outsmarting the competition; building a marketing plan and budget; and identifying resources to execute.
behind-the-curtain – examples from great brands
As craft beverage marketers, we can learn a lot from successful companies both inside and outside the industry. Here are a few best-practice examples of marketing fundamentals from iconic, global brands:
|During a flight back to Germany following a business meeting in Thailand, Dietrich Mateschitz drank a Krating Daeng (“red gaur” or red bison in English) which helped cure his jet lag. He later co-founded Red Bull GmbH with Krating Daeng’s founder Chaleo Yoovidha and turned it into an international brand.||“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”||According to the website, founder Blake Mycoskie “witnessed the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes” while traveling in Argentina in 2006. “Wanting to help, he created Toms Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need,” the site says.|
|ORIGIN STORY||COMPANY MISSION||BRAND STORY|
|During a flight back to Germany following a business meeting in Thailand, Dietrich Mateschitz drank a Krating Daeng (“red gaur” or red bison in English) which helped cure his jet lag. He later co-founded Red Bull GmbH with Krating Daeng’s founder Chaleo Yoovidha and turned it into an international brand.|
|“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”|
|According to the website, founder Blake Mycoskie “witnessed the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes” while traveling in Argentina in 2006. “Wanting to help, he created Toms Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need,” the site says.|
For more information or to conduct a ground-up review of your current brand marketing efforts, visit marketyourcraft.com/brand-vibe.