Craft breweries spend a lot of money on marketing, branding and positioning their beers. It’s important to make sure the dollars are invested wisely and are generating a return on investment.
Founder and Lead Designer Jeremiah Tutwiler from 831 Branding + Design has information to share on this subject. Read on for tips on how to make the most of your marketing spend.
Q: In your definition, what is branding and why is it important?
A: A brewery’s “brand” is what the public thinks of that brewery. A brewery’s “branding” is what the brewery does to guide the public’s opinion. Everything that influences public opinion is part of your branding: logo, typefaces, colors, images, message, voice, tone and the styles of beer you brew.
This is why branding is so important; it’s the only way you can guide the public’s perception of your brewery. Branding is the only way you can influence the brand they are building.
Mark your calendar for the 2nd annual Craft Beer Finance & Investment conference in Denver, Colorado Oct 26-27. Agenda and lineup of speakers here.
(Since I’m a finance guy) How do you establish a Return on Investment for marketing/branding expenses?
Breweries are largely built on word-of-mouth, but for word-of-mouth to be effective, people have to have something to talk about and get behind. That’s where your branding comes in. It gives them a reason to care. If people don’t care, or don’t care as much as they could, then your brewery is going to fail. The ROI for branding is in the strength of your customers’ excitement about your brewery, and that excitement is what leads to sales.
At the same time, a lot of that word-of-mouth comes through social media and that’s where you can get solid numbers. You can see exactly what people like and what they don’t like. You can gauge how well your branding is affecting public opinion by measuring how well/how many people engage with your message (and no, “likes” don’t count as real engagement).
The same goes for your website. You can learn a lot about your customers’ interests and then make branding/marketing/operational decisions based on real numbers and facts instead of “Well, everyone said they liked that idea…”
The chance to make big decisions based on more than guesses is a huge return on investment.
What inspired you to focus on marketing and branding services for craft breweries?
My wife and I have owned a branding/marketing studio for over 10 years, working with clients from a variety of industries. About two years ago, we began to think about finding a niche so we could work with an industry that really meant something to us on a personal level. We knew that industry was craft beer but we were hesitant to go all in. Then, when we began marketing craft beer conferences for a long-time client, we realized it was time to just jump in and go for it.
How many brewery clients do you have? What is the range of sizes, geographical location and age of the breweries?
We entered the craft beer space this year and just finished our first branding project for a new brewery in Virginia. We also handle branding/marketing for the Brewery Business Network.
What does your ideal client look like?
Our ideal client is a brewery that has been in the space for 5-10 years and is operating at a 3,000-15,000bbl capacity.
When a brewery reaches this point, they often run into problems with their branding:
- it doesn’t relate to their current place in the industry
- it’s scattered, and/or
- it doesn’t connect with their customers the way it used to
Where are you located? Do you have clients that you work with remotely, and if so, how does that process work?
We’re in Northern Indiana, but our clients are mostly remote. To keep things personal, which is really important to us, we use a high-quality online video conferencing platform that allows us to meet face-to-face with our clients. Of course we use email/phone calls, but we also make ourselves available via text.
What is the most common branding or marketing mistake that you see breweries make?
Watering down their brewery’s overall brand by making every beer into it’s own “mini-brand”. Big beer does this because people are historically loyal to a beer style, not a brewery. So they’re focused on making individual products, each with their own target market.
But that’s not how craft works. Yes, people are still more loyal to beers than breweries, but craft beer consumers care about experiences. That’s why they drink craft beer in the first place. So a brewery’s experience has to be consistent from taproom, to beer styles, to social media, to labeling and package design. If it’s not consistent, people will feel confused instead of comfortable.
What is your expertise and/or how do you differentiate yourselves from other marketing firms?
As a husband-wife team, we’re the people our clients work with from day one. When they have a question, they talk directly to us. When they need to vent about something, we’re here. There are some much larger branding teams out there who do fantastic work as well, but they don’t have the resources to invest in their clients at that level.
What is the best way for people to learn more about your services and to get in touch with you?