Beer and Branding

Was in my hometown for the weekend, and had an interesting conversation around branding and specifically what makes a successful brand. This on the heels of the New Yorker article about the branding firm Lexicon – view the synopsis here. Keep in mind that I am not a marketer, so I am making this up as I go.

Briefly, according to Lexicon, the goal of branding is to “is to determine what “story” a client wishes to tell about his product and then find a word that evokes it—and spurs the impulse to buy.”

The article cites all sorts of examples, but this idea is relevant to a conversation I had with my father about branding a new business. A good friend works for a well known brewery in town, and we have for years kicked around the idea of starting a small, high quality brewery with my friend at the helm. The model for this business would be Lawson’s Finest Liquids, which makes small batches of world class beer and sells it at one retail location in Vermont’s Mad River valley.

We began kicking around ideas for a name, and found that it would be it easy to pick a name associated with the location and call it a day. So, if your brewery were in Saratoga NY, you might call it Hudson Brewing Company or Starting Gate Brewing Company. Thinking about it more, I realized that this approach leaves something on the table. The best brands pack a large number of associations in to a small amount of text. To use an example from the beer industry, Brewery Ommegang is named after an ancient festival in Brussels, and the brand evokes associations with celebration, the perceived high quality of Belgian beer, and the tradition of Belgian brewing all in one word. Even Brooklyn Brewery, a seemingly location based brand, evokes Brooklyn’s brewing and industrial glory days.

Each of these brands tells a compelling story about the product, AND convinces consumers to purchase. So, what to call our brewery? Not sure yet, but I know it will evoke high quality, American made, Belgian style beer. At least I know how to begin the process.

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2 Responses to Beer and Branding

  1. Eric P. says:

    Yes sir . . . it’s all about the story. by means of a case study in a related category, check out Zacapa rum. everything about the brand – product, name, bottle, visual assets – evokes the tradition in which the spirit is made. even before i had seen the brand written up in branding circles, i bought it. i was pulled in by the mystique that pervades the presentation and quality of the product itself.
    this will help you build a context of your own around a boutique beer brand. think of other successful beer brands that really stand for something – corona, delirium, sapporo. it is impossible to de-link their packaging, product experience, and visual identify. and deliciousness.

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