Since partnering with our first brewery client in 2012, we’ve traveled across the country (and increasingly, the world), to help bring regional production breweries, brewpubs, nano breweries, farm breweries and contract breweries to market through brand strategy, naming, package design and interactive design. Over this time, we’ve worked with over thirty breweries and have had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of other breweries-in-planning about their concepts, business plans, hopes, dreams and favorite beers.
As the craft beer industry continues to grow, people are starting to understand they can’t just brew great beer to be successful—they have to have a unique story, compelling branding and smart marketing. So while they understand they need branding, we’ve found that a lot of people still don’t know exactly what that entails. People tend to think of branding at the surface level—as though it begins and ends with logos, merch and growlers. In many of our conversations, we were not only explaining how important branding is, but how to approach it with a deeper sense of purpose.
In early 2014, we began writing about how breweries should tackle the branding process—laying out a step-by-step look at strategic considerations like positioning, messaging and naming as well as more hands-on things like how to design your brand identity, website and packaging. After a few years of learning and committing our thoughts to word, we decided to gather all of these pieces into a single website where people could easily learn how to make their brewery stand out. And we decided to give it away for free.
This culminated in the Craft Beer Branding Guide. Launched in August 2016, it was so well received in the craft beer (and design) community, that late last year, Neenah Packaging—who was in the process of introducing their new BELLA craft beer label line—reached out to partner with us to produce a special print run. We’ve used Neenah paper for years and were honored that they wanted to work with us.
In mid-December, 2016, we were having our year end wrap up meeting at Big Lug Canteen (celebrating a great year with wings, poutine and beer!) when Neenah called to give us the project green light. This kicked off one of the most exciting sprints in our firm’s history. We spent most of our holiday break heavily editing and rewriting the guide. January was spent on design, layout and production planning. The book was sent to print in early February (and needed every bit of it due to the foil stamped, blind embossed, gate folded cover and diecut beer bottle swatch book). March was spent producing a promo video to live on a redesigned homepage (including an order form). And the entire project culminated in Cody and I flying out to Washington DC for a full week at the Craft Brewers Conference to hang out with Neenah and promote the book.
The newly printed book will be available through the Craft Beer Branding Guide website for free (compliments of Neenah Packaging) while supplies last.
The entire project has garnered a lot of press. Here’re some of our favorite mentions:
Neenah / Against the Grain: CODO, Craft Brews Made Better
How Magazine: Craft Beer Branding Tips: Defining Your Core Values
The Creative Agency Podcast: Winning Business with Targeted Content
Parse & Parcel: A Collaboration Print, Digital & Beer
Sprited Magazine: New Publication Helps Brand Your Beverage
Brand New: Craft Beer Branding Guide; Print Edition
FPO: Craft beer Branding Guide
Inc. Magazine: 7 Simple Branding Sessions from the Craft Beer Industry
Calloway Green: How to Generate More Leads Through Content Marketing