Free Beer Merchandise - Pin on a Backpack

Stronger Brands through Free Beer Merchandise

I imagine most of us who are passionate about beer have had great memories forged from brewery experiences. Even if you didn’t have an extraordinary experience, I imagine you still have good memories of a brewery you have visited in the past. One of those experiences for me is pinned to my backpack that results in frequent memory recall, plus friends and strangers asking about the pin and brewery. Those experiences are crucial to building a strong beer brand, so I want to discuss one way of capturing those strong branding moments, while also building your brand outside of your brewery or taproom using quality free beer merchandise.


*Oprah voice*
YOU get a pin.
YOU get a sticker.
YOU get a keychain.

This all came to me from a free Fort George Brewery pin that I have on my backpack. It’s not a cheap looking button-style pin (there are nice versions of those), but it is a lapel pin with a thicker shaped material and the graphics debossed and painted into the plastic. This appears to be a much more affordable way to create a pin with the same appeal as the colorful metal and enamel pins that have become all the rage. 

To take this even a step further down the branding rabbit hole, this pin was for a specific beer in their portfolio, which itself had branding power. Why not push a specific beer brand (or more!) and get branding for your brewery at the same time? 

I wasn’t a huge fan of this brewery from the start. It was a don’t judge a book by its cover kind of thing. I started to experience more of this brewery and beer brands from friends and trusted sources. I finally tried their beers and made my way out to their brewery. The experience was amazing (it helps they are on the Oregon Coast), their beer is amazing, they were all friendly, and the brewery was awesome. I quickly became a brand advocate.

What are you doing to capture these branding opportunities?

You got merch, right? If someone coughs up the money for some swag I would say you did your job well. Kuddos.

Are you charging for stickers, pins, or buttons, etc.?

I just want to hit home the idea that you might get much more brand mileage and brand exposure by delighting your customers with the gesture of using quality free beer merchandise. How many more people would slap a sticker, or wear a pin, if they didn’t have to overcome the idea of handing over money? 

Get some nice pins or stickers made of your core beer brands. Your customer orders one of those beers. What if your server slides over the matching beer brand’s pin or sticker with their bill? You might have just created a brand advocate for that beer and your brewery. Fort George certainly did with me.

Here at CBC, I worked with 1623 Brewing Co. on the idea of creating buttons and also mailable postcards. 1623’s brand was founded on the concept of travel and distance between loved ones, so a branded postcard folks could get and mail for free was a perfect fit!.

And as the eco-conscious dude that I am, and I just promoted creating a ton of little plastic things, I have to leave on this note.


It’s going to look bad and will result in your brand looking cheaper. People are not going to be wowed with their cheap free gift, likely resulting in people just tossing them out. Think cereal box or claw arcade machine game and don’t do that. Cool? Cool cool cool.

If you’re looking for more inspiration:

Allagash had some great conversations around branding and merchandise here.

My good buddy Nick and I discussed the perceived quality of a beer brand here.

Market the Brew joined the podcast to discuss marketing ideas to bring butts to your barstools.