Mistakes Breweries are Making in Branding – Part 1

This will be an ongoing series of posts! Check back for other posts under the same title as new topics come up. I won’t pick on any particular brewery, and I don’t want to be overly negative, but I think starting with what’s wrong can help shed light on what might work better!

A logo is not a brand

Most of the time, folks refer to their logo as their branding. I get it, and we don’t need to go super nerdy branding here, but…your logo is one element of the visual identity of your brand. To make this clear and easy to differentiate, I like to call your logo, brand colors, and brand typography your “Brand Identity.” Lots of things make up your brand, let’s discuss.

So then, what is a brand?

Your name is a great branding element, your tagline or slogan, of course your brand identity, but in most ideal situations these brand elements evolve or stem out of your branding.

Your branding is:

  • Your story
  • Who you are
  • Why you’re relevant
  • Your values
  • Your products or services
  • Your employees
  • Your attitude
  • Your persona
  • Your location(s)

One really great way to start creating this story and building a brand is to simply answer this one question…

Why you?

Simple, yet so damn effective.

This question is more challenging, but also so important, in today’s beer market. You have 5+ neighboring breweries that are busy with customers, who are likely making pretty good beer. Why does your brewery matter? Why would a customer decide to visit your brewery or purchase your beer off the shelf?

There is a really inspirational and very clear presentation of this concept from Simon Sinek. He has a wildly popular TED talk on the subject, and followed with a book and website, Start With The Why

Take the 18 minutes to watch this video, it’s seriously inspirational.

Many brewery brands think they have their why already, but often it is their how or what. Take a look at this example and see if it resonates:

WHAT? We offer an elevated array of international beer styles

HOW? Innovative brewing techniques. Sour and barrel aging program.


Find out your why, then your story and brand values should easily follow. 

Start with your Why

How does your logo represent your brand?

I see so often that a business comes up with a catchy name, a theme, and creates a cool and trendy logo to fit. I’m not going to say you can’t be successful going this route, but with a highly competitive market like beer, you are not creating a brand that evokes more engagement and eventually brand affinity.

If you create a theme out of thin air, you can risk coming across as cheesy, or that you’re trying to hard. Having an in-depth story (or your why) gives more legitimacy and everything else will flow more naturally.

When you have a solid brand backbone, the visual elements of your logo can represent that brand. Each element could be tied to something in your branding. 

Cool looking or trendy logos can go out of style quickly. 

If you create a logo based on your brand it has meaning and you will be proud to represent your logo for a long time to come. You can always evolve your brand identity or your logo with the times, if you ever feel like your logo is too outdated.

Brand Persona or Customer Persona

One little trick that can help create your brand, or brand/marketing strategy, is to create a brand or customer persona. When I ask brewers who their target customers are, 9/10 times I hear “everyone!” Craft beer drinkers are more diverse than ever, and I get the idea of wanting everyone to be your customer. When it comes to branding and marketing, how difficult is it to market to everyone? Very. I would also say potentially damaging, as well. If you try marketing to everyone, your brand will become scattered and won’t resonate with enough people to stick.

This is a fun trick to help with this.

You can start with your brand persona. If your brand was a living and breathing person, what would they be like?

  • What style of clothes does this person wear?
  • Do they wear a watch?
  • What kind of shoes? (maybe no shoes, all natural baby!)
  • Do they wear a hat? What kind?
  • Pants or shorts?
  • What kind of jacket?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What is their job?
  • What kind of car do they drive?
  • What neighborhood do they live in? Downtown, or maybe in a suburb?

Once you have a solid idea of who this person is, your brand persona, create your brand as something that would appeal to this person. Everything you do in your communications and marketing should speak to this person. This will definitely make sure you stay on brand in your marketing!

Stay tuned for more following parts in this series!