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VOL. 066

Do all of your labels have to look the same under a Branded House?


Today I wanted to answer a few audience questions we received during our CBC presentation back in April:

1. Do [fancifully] named beers within a Branded House become Sub Brands, or are they still part of a Branded House system? 

2. Do all of our labels need to look identical under a Branded House, or can they take on their own independent look and feel to some extent? 

These are great questions, and it’s easy to see why this can be confusing. 

So let's get to it.

Let’s get some quick definitions in place. From The Beyond Beer Handbook here:

A fanciful name is a unique name to identify a product (that you would usually trademark). That’s it. It’s legal jargon—a churched up way of saying “product name.” (e.g. 60 Minutes. Truth. 805. Red Trolley.)

A Branded House centers around a strong parent brand (corporate name and brand identity) that is prominently displayed on all products.

This creates a consistent experience across all your brands and touch points, building equity and recognition for the parent brand every step of the way. Visually, this manifests in the consistent and intentional use of logos, icons, typography, color and packaging composition.

A Sub Brand is a new brand (name and identity) that is still closely connected to your parent brand; but think of it as a little extra spice given to separate itself from the rest of your portfolio.

A Sub Brand still carries the same overall values that intuitively link it to your parent brand, but targets a specific audience or occasion with further defined attributes and benefits that might not be offered by the parent brand alone.



An important point here for both of these models: Your parent brand is the main purchasing driver (the reason someone is buying your product) for customers.

(Above): KettleHouse uses fanciful names across their portfolio. But none of these beers are true Sub Brands. (Yet.) 


So to question 1: Do [fancifully] named beers within a Branded House become Sub Brands, or are they still part of a Branded House system? 

Answer: They are part of your Branded House until you explicitly decide to scale them into true Sub Brand (or beyond).

A Branded House model means that your products are positioned as being clearly from your brewery. They can have independent, fanciful names and still fly under your parent brand's banner. 

We explored the shift from brand to Sub Brand in depth in last year’s Sub Brand Summer series (specifically, in issue 3).

A snapshot from that series is that every Sub Brand has a fanciful name, but not every fancifully-named beer is a Sub Brand. 

A fancifully named beer is part of your Branded House until you decide to Scale the Sub Brand Ladder.

(Above): Two examples of brands that are currently scaling the Sub Brand Ladder, including Left Field Brewery and Fernson Brewing


On question 2: Do all of our labels need to look identical under a Branded House, or can they take on their own independent look and feel to some extent? 

Answer: Your labels do not have to look identical in order to fall under a Branded House. 

Again, the biggest point here is which brand plays the main purchasing driver role.

If a beer has its own unique name and label, but is still clearly positioned as being from your brewery, then your parent brand is the main purchasing driver. This means you’re still rocking a Branded House. 

A semantic point here: We call any system under which your parent brand is the main purchasing driver, a Branded House.

When all of your brands—let's say your flagships—fly under a rigid (nearly identical) template, we call this a Monolithic Branded House.

In its most extreme form, this would look like a rigid template across your packaging and NO fanciful names. So Prost Pils. Or Schlafly Pale Ale. Or Fernson IPA. Or Birdsmouth Black Lager

Your packaging does not have to look rigidly similar to work as a Branded House. It’s more about why someone buys your beer. And specifically, if they’re doing so because it’s from your brewery. 

(Below): Zero Gravity's portfolio is a great example of fanciful names within a Branded House that don't fly under a rigid template. 

None of these are true Sub Brands, but they are positioned to be scaled up the Sub brand Ladder later on if the Zero Gravity team decides to do so.

(Above): A Monolithic Branded House eschews fanciful names altogether, in favor of Brewery Name x Style. e.g. Prost Pils & Prost Dunkel, Birdsmouth Lager, etc. 


Wrapping up

Remember your Parent Brand’s role in your Brand Architecture. 

Ultimately, whether or not you introduce fanciful names and run your packaging under a rigid (monolithic) template is a positioning decision. 

If you’re a newer brewery, there may be some benefit to building your parent brand at every touch point. 

If your brewery is growing and you see a path towards building momentum around a horse brand or two, then adding fanciful names can set the stage for scaling that brand when the opportunity arises.

Around the Shop

Q&A Podcast: Can you rebrand in-house? Plus, what do we think about the BA's independent seal?

Speaking of Q&A, here's a recent podcast where Cody and I fielded a handful of BBT-subscriber-submitted questions, including: 

1. Can a brewery handle its rebrand in-house or should this always be outsourced?

2. Does CODO prefer branding new breweries or rebranding established ones?

3. Did CODO ever considering opening a brewery? Plus, what beverage category would we launch right now?

4. Do you think it’s worth putting the Brewers Association’s Independent Seal on packaging these days?

5. How should we deal with a delicate IP / beer naming situation?

6. What are some tips for how to be a terrible client? (???)

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)

Ready to learn more?

The Beyond Beer Handbook

Part book, part quiz, and part choose-your-own-adventure-style novel, The Beyond Beer Handbook is a purpose-built tool for helping you expand your brewery’s portfolio and build a more resilient business.

Craft Beer, Rebranded

Craft Beer, Rebranded and its companion Workbook are a step-by-step guide to map out a winning strategy ahead of your rebrand. Building on CODO’s decade of brewery branding experience, this book will help you weigh your brand equity, develop your brand strategy and breathe new life into your brewery’s brand.

Craft Beer Branding Guide

The Craft Beer Branding Guide outlines how to brand, position and launch a new brewery or beverage company. This is a must-read for any brewery in planning.

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