Right off the bat I have a confession to make: I'm definitely more of a wine fan than a craft beer connoisseur. That being said, during my time interning for a winery/brewery I found myself endlessly fascinated with the ins and outs of the craft beer industry. I was immediately drawn the the branding and promotion of small breweries and what draws people to try brews that they had never heard of before walking through the brewery door.
I wouldn't even begin to claim that a summer long internship makes me any sort of an expert on the subject, but I'm excited to share a few thoughts and insights anyways.
Today, let's talk branding.
It's my humble opinion that a well crafted brand and some clever beer names to back it up is more vital to a small brewery than the actual taste of the beer. I know, I know. Every brewmaster and true beer enthusiast across the world just gasped in horror, but from my perspective and the perspective of novice beer drinkers everywhere I'm definitely picking the funny name and pretty bottle over the aroma and "mouthfeel" of a brew anyday. A craft brew isn't like the big beer brands (and thank goodness). The people walking in to buy your product are most likely a first time customer at your establishment, and more likely than not they can't tell an IPA from a pilsner. So make their choice a little easier by making the options fun or campy rather than serious and intense.
So what constitutes "good branding" for a brewery? Well, mostly a sense of uniqueness. People can get beer just about anywhere, what is going to make them choose you? I can't answer that question for breweries, but if you look closely enough I guarantee there is something about what you do that no one else can. Show it off!
I think a good way to establish this for a brewery (and many other types of companies as well) is to personify you company in a sense. Is your brewery a Star Wars geek or a mountain man? A WWII vet or a cowboy on the run? Whatever the answer to that question is, your branding should follow closely behind that personality.
Most importantly? Don't let your brand start to take itself too seriously. Craft breweries have a lot of draw, and some of that comes from being cool and different. Don't be a stick in the mud, once you start having fun with it your customers will too.