Perceived Quality and Expectations

“When people’s experience match their expectations, their loyalty increases”
(Marty Neumeier – Brand Gap)

This quote really resonated with me. I covered many aspects of this idea on a podcast episode of perceived quality. Customer expectations and experiences fall into the same realm as perceived quality, but Neumeier’s idea really ties it to building brand loyalty regardless of any certain perception of “quality.” Quality is no brainer. It has to be built into any brand or product. Moving beyond just the quality, the idea of connecting an experience with an expectation can help us break down the overall goal of your branding and design aesthetic.

We can look at a number of experiences when it comes to brewery branding, with retail packaging and brewery taprooms as a couple of examples. When it comes to packaging at retail and reaching those that haven’t experienced your brewery, it’s critical to try to set and meet a consumer’s expectation. Your design and messaging are cues for a customer to understand your brand and what the beer inside that package might be like. 

There are a lot of nuances to this idea we could explore. For instance, if you were a heavy metal themed brand and all you make is sessionable, very light drinking beers…that might be a major disconnect to customers. Two easy to grasp ideas of expectations are around the quality and consistency of your branding and design, and the quality of your beer.

Let’s start with the example of bad packaging design (“bad” is subjective, sure, but there are some pretty steadfast rules as to what reads well and looks good) For one, a customer might pass you over as a brewery that doesn’t take itself seriously, or worse makes bad beer. If a brewer perfects their craft and spends every working (maybe waking) minute to fine-tune every aspect of their beer, why wouldn’t they do that with their packaging design? It’s almost like…you just built this race car, ran it on the track and tuned it perfectly, but the body exterior isn’t finished…so you bought some Rustoleum from Target. So what happens when someone does drink that beer, and the beer is phenomenal? They lost a connection between what their expectation was (poor design, maybe poor beer) and what they just had to drink (wow, that was really good). My guess is this person will be much less likely to remember this beer than if you had a well branded and well designed label. 

I think one easy to grasp idea of expectations is that of premium quality. Visual clues like bottle shape and size, custom labels with diecut shapes and special finishes, and of course the label design can represent a premium quality beer. Many customers are expecting to pay more for these fancy bottles and are going to expect the liquid to meet their expectations. If you deliver on that quality, you have just positioned your brand as top-notch and your beer as a well crafted beverage. This customer would be much more likely to spend additional money on your offerings the next time they see your beer on the shelf, and would also love to brag to friends about drinking that beer.