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Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss audience segmentation, customer personas, and why you don’t see more fistfights in craft breweries.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. The “traditional” craft beer audience

2. Why craft breweries haven’t had to focus on defining their audience

3. Shifting demographics (and industry trends) that will lead to this becoming more important

4. A primer on audience segmentation

5. How to define your audience (with internal research)

6. How to gather external context to define your brewery’s audience

7. Customer personas: cheesy, but effective process tools

8. An ongoing (unnecessary?) tirade against ESB beers

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

Join 5,500+ food and bev industry pros who are subscribed to the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter (and access all past issues) at: www.beerbrandingtrends.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/defining-your-brewerys-audience/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss the common goals we see breweries set at the start of their rebranding projects.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. The most common goals we’ve seen breweries have for a branding or rebranding process

2. Qualitative vs. Quantitative goals

3. The most important goal of any rebranding project. Period.

4. S.M.A.R.T. Goals (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, Time-Limited)

5. Common qualitative goals we see

6. How to defeat a grizzly bear in hand to hand combat

7. CODO’s 2020 CBC Presentation

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

Join 5,500+ food and bev industry pros who are subscribed to the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter (and access all past issues) at: www.beerbrandingtrends.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/goal-setting-during-a-brewery-rebrand/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss how you can be the best client your design firm has ever had.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. Trust the process?

2. Understand that the design process is iterative.

3. Thoughts on the big Don Draper reveal.

4. Why you need to stick to your timeline.

5. Why is giving great feedback challenging for non-designers?

6. Candor is king. (Don’t worry about your designer’s feelings)

7. Keep feedback focused on specific project goals (and the defined strategy) and not personal tastes.

8. Keep your customer in mind.

9. Is it necessary for a client to personally love the work a design firm develops?

10. How many concepts should a branding firm share? 25? 5? 1?

11. Paul Rand’s work for Steve Job’s NeXT Computers.

12. We’ve decided to record future episodes shirtless.

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

Join 5,500+ food and bev industry pros who are subscribed to the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter (and access all past issues) at: www.beerbrandingtrends.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/how-to-be-a-great-client-and-give-great-feedback/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss what a branding project kickoff looks like. Plus, art direction homework, organizing internal and external partner interviews and thoughts on remote vs. onsite work.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

  1. You’ve worked through the proposal process and now have a signed contract. What is our next move?
  2. Email handshake = let’s get after it!
  3. Pre-project art direction homework. (Art direction, competitive set audit, brand audit, if applicable)
  4. Tools and software for onboarding clients.
  5. Beyond the Executive Team, who do we need to talk to during the kickoff?
  6. How do we organize, prioritize and schedule all of your brewery’s internal stakeholders? (Sales, Marketing & Design, Front of House, Brew Staff)
  7. What external partners will we need to interview? (Distributors, Large Chain Retail Partners, Field Reps, Market Managers, etc.)
  8. Thoughts on in-person vs remote work. When is travel necessary and when can we run everything remotely
  9. What does an in-person, onsite kickoff itinerary look like?
  10. Sample 2–3 day itinerary.
  11. One-on-one conversations vs large group “discovery” sessions. When is each one appropriate?

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/what-does-a-branding-project-kickoff-look-like/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss how your brewery should vet and hire a design firm for your rebrand—what should you expect from this process, what are some land mines to watch out for and why you should work with an expert.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. Give us an eagle eye view of the business development process, from a branding firm’s perspective.

2. How much should a brewery prepare ahead of your initial conversations with a potential partner?
3. What subjects will you discuss in your early exploratory meetings? (timeline, budget, project goals, project context, business objectives, etc.)

4. What is project “fit” and why is it so important at this stage of the process?

5. Differences between contracts and proposals.

6. Always Be Closing?

7. How often does CODO pass on a project because of poor fit?

8. What should a rebranding proposal outline?

9. What is an RFP and why is Isaac always cursing about them?

10. How important is it to like your design partner? What is the role of chemistry in this process?

11. That time a brewery hired CODO because Isaac was “…not some skinny hipster asshole.”

12. What should your branding or rebranding budget look like? How much will this all cost?

13. Why your budget should be tied to business objectives and the value this project will create.

14. Cody presses Isaac for a firm number. Isaac relents with a figure he’s seen cited in several business books.

15. Why work with an expert?

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

Join 5,500+ food and bev industry pros who are subscribed to the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter (and access all past issues) at: www.beerbrandingtrends.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/how-to-hire-a-design-firm-for-your-branding-project/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss the different types of creative partners a brewery can hire to handle their branding or rebranding project.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. What is a Freelancer? Pros and cons?

2. What is a small to medium size firm? Pros and cons?

3. What is a Big agency? Pros and cons?

4. What does “Full Service” actually mean?

5. Why you never want to be an agency’s “cool” client.

6. Why we believe mid-size firms are taking over the world.

7. What should your partner be able to handle in order to be a great fit?

8. Let’s open up a can of worms! Should you hire a partner based solely on their personal or house style?

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

Join 5,500+ food and bev industry pros who are subscribed to the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter (and access all past issues) at: www.beerbrandingtrends.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/how-to-find-the-perfect-branding-firm-for-your-brewerys-rebrand/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss the finer points of announcing your brewery’s rebrand without confusing (and alienating) your current customers.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. Why is this important? What are some of the moving parts and logistics that need to be organized ahead of a brand launch?

2. Gird yourself?

3. A proper brand launch start internally by getting your team on the same page. How do we get everyone marching in the same direction if we’re spread out over several states?

4. What is a Master Campaign Timeline and what are some of the key benchmarks to base this on as we build out our schedule?

5. Why we like a launch week (or month) instead of one specific day.

6. Packaging logistics are often the most challenging issue to manage during this process. What are some tactics we can employ early on to make sure we’re not setting ourselves up for failure later on?

7. In the real world, a “staggered” release is often called for. Is this the end of the world?

8. What is a “Teaser” Campaign and why is it so valuable for announcing a rebrand?

9. How soon should you start promoting that a change is coming? Can you be too early?

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

Join 5,500+ food and bev industry pros who are subscribed to the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter (and access all past issues) at: www.beerbrandingtrends.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/how-to-launch-your-brewerys-rebrand/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to introduce themselves and CODO Design… 7 episodes in. Better late than never?

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. CODO Design overview

2. Cody and Isaac introductions

3. We founded CODO the Monday after graduating from college in 2009

4. Internship experiences that galvanized our decision to start our own firm right out of school

5. How we began to focus on the Food and Beverage space

6. Our work in beer, starting 2010 and leading up to current day.

7. How did our Craft Beer Branding Guide come to be?

8. Why did we write Craft Beer, Rebranded?

9. How have we seen the beer industry shift and mature over the last 11 years

10. We’re working on our third book?

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

Join 5,500+ food and bev industry pros who are subscribed to the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter (and access all past issues) at: www.beerbrandingtrends.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/a-formal-introduction-to-codo-design/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss Brand Essences—what they are and what role it plays in the branding process.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. What is a Brand Essence? (+ real project examples)

2. Why does this matter?

3. Should (or can) a Brand Essence be public facing?

4. What is Brand Personality?

5. “If your brewery were a person, what sort of personality traits would it have?”

6. What is Brand Voice?

7. Spectrum Exercise as a process tool.

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

Join 5,500+ food and bev industry pros who are subscribed to the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter (and access all past issues) at: www.beerbrandingtrends.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/defining-your-brewerys-brand-personality-voice-and-essence/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss the various people and stakeholders groups you’ll need to organize ahead of your rebrand. They also touch on some important process nuances like gaining consensus amongst large groups and emotional intelligence tactics for wrangling all the different personalities you’re sure to run into throughout this work.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. Who comprises the Executive Team throughout a branding project.

2. How many people should actually be involved in decision making throughout this process?

3. How do we organize and prioritize other stakeholder groups beyond the Executive Team?

4. How (if at all) do we bring customers into this process?

5. Why CODO prefers one-on-one intimate conversations over beer to the dreaded large group “discovery” session.

6. What’s the magic numbers in terms of interviews? Where do we start to see diminishing returns?

7. Some emotional intelligence tactics for engaging with folks who *need* to be involved, but that might not be on the same page as the rest of your team.

8. Always assume the person you’re talking to knows something you don’t. (Important life lesson as well)

9. How can we avoid the dreaded “Swoop?”

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

Join 5,500+ food and bev industry pros who are subscribed to the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter (and access all past issues) at: www.beerbrandingtrends.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/organizing-your-internal-team-ahead-of-a-rebrand/

Episode Summary

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

  1. Isaac is leaving CODO to open a brewery?
  2. What is positioning (3 Core Questions) and why does this matter?
  3. How to use a matrix to get a quick eagle eye view of your competitive landscape.
  4. Categorical Differentiation as a positioning strategy.
  5. What is the “Positioning Trap?”
  6. Can a specific a theme or differentiator be too limiting on a day-to-day brand building basis?
  7. How to write your brand positioning statement.
  8. Okay, Isaac is not starting a brewery after all.

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/how-to-position-your-brewery/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss the various types of brand values a brewery can have (Core, Pay-to-play and Aspirational), why they’re all important and how to frame them.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

  1. What are core brand values?
  2. Why frame your values?
  3. Are brand values public-facing or an internal tool and rallying cry for your team?
  4. Quick run down of the most common values we hear over and over again, from breweries all over the world.
  5. ‘The Advantage’ book by Patrick Lencioni *quick note: Isaac’s an idiot. The author of ‘The Advantage’ is PATRICK Lencioni. Not Paul. Isaac said Paul Lencioni with such confidence at least 6 times during this episode. Great job, Isaac!
  6. Core values vs. Aspirational values vs. Permission-to-play values.
  7. Two methods we use for framing core brand values.

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/defining-your-core-brand-values/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss the subtle differences between a brand refresh and a craft brewery rebrand. Plus, how to make sure you’re making the right decision in the first place.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

  1. Differences between a refresh and a full rebrand.
  2. Where does a package refresh fall into this?
  3. Why is this all so confusing?
  4. What is brand equity?
  5. What is a brand audit?
  6. How do you interpret all of this research?
  7. Can you rebrand and keep the same logo?

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/brewery-rebrand-vs-refresh-evolution-vs-revolution/
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logo.png VOL. 010

What Craft Beer can learn from the Beer Wars

 

I just finished rereading Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer. It’s a super fun book about the history of Budweiser and the American beer industry as a whole. 

This book offers loads of valuable insights for today's craft brewer, including:

  • Pivoting to stay viable (if you think the pandemic has been bad, imagine 13 years of outright prohibition)
  • How the beer industry evolved from artisan brewer to the world of mergers and acquisitions
  • The rise of advertising and branding theory
  • The perils of focusing on your competition instead of improving your own product, positioning and brand 
  • Bracketing, i.e. introducing multiple similar products in order to muddle product distinction and steal share. e.g. Miller Light (alone) vs. three Budweiser products: Bud Light, Micehlob Light and Natural Light. 
  • Brand Extensions and the risk of cannibalizing your own portfolio
  • The introduction of faux craft (e.g. Plank Road)
  • Hubris. Hubris. Hubris. 

There's a lot of fun stuff here, but there are two themes I want to focus on for today's conversation specifically—reframing value props and the importance of living by your brand values. 


1. Reframing Value Props (even negatively perceived ones) into powerful differentiators 

Light Beer existed for a decade or so without becoming a mainstream sensation because it was seen as an inferior product—something that women and men (whose doctors and wives had them on a diet) drank. A true blue collar guy (this was the 70's, relax people) wouldn’t be caught dead with the stuff. 

That is until some smart marketing folks at Miller Brewing discovered an interesting consumer insight. Some men were drinking Light beer not because they were worried about their health (or, presumably, their glorious 1970’s dad bods), but because it tasted about as good as “regular” beer, but was less filling. So they could drink more of it. 

This subtle shift—this alchemy—completely recasts the exact same product as not a drink for women and dieters, but for "real" men who want to drink more beer after a long day at work. 

Folks who study advertising history will recall a number of these reframing feats from the past, like Guinness’ Good things come to those who wait, or Hertz’s We're #2 so we try harder. 

Or even the perniciously powerful Marlboro Man campaign. Historically marketed as a women’s cigarette brand, Marlboro embraced the image of a stoic cowboy fending for himself out in the West (Flavor Country?) to capture the hearts of millions of male consumers who had returned home from war only to find themselves stifled by 1950’s office life. Gross and cynical? Yes. Effective and powerful? Very.

Quick aside here: this is also the quintessential examples of why Categorical Differentiation is so powerful. In doing this, Miller Brewing single handedly defined, and owned, the Light beer category for decades.

2. Compromising your values is a road to ruin  

Schlitz Brewing was once one of the best selling beer brands in the world. It was so powerful that it threatened to put Budweiser and Miller out of business for decades

Then in the 1970's, Schlitz management decided to start juicing profits by cutting production costs, namely, using cheaper ingredients and employing state of the art brewing process "efficiencies" (a churched up way of saying "make it faster and cheaper").

Looking for cost efficiencies is good business. But finding those efficiencies by using cheaper, lower quality ingredients and assuming your customers are too dumb to notice is bad business. 

Fast forward a few years and Schlitz's bad business practices caught up with them. A string of QC issues begat major PR issues begat a complete loss of trust from their customer base. 

The straw that broke the back of Schlitz's once powerful brand was a new stabilizer that caused proteins in the beer to bind and hang in the glass. This was described as being "Hazy" (they were about 50 years too early on that trend) at best, and "looking like mucus was in the glass" at worst. Ouch.

You brand (reputation) is your brewery's most important asset. Yes, even more valuable than your beer itself. But no amount of great branding can cover for a low quality product. And definitely not for a product whose quality suddenly declines. 

Since we're talking about beer in the 1970's, let's close this out with some sage grandpa wisdom:

Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose.

Actionable Takeaways


1. Here's a great podcast series that covers this book. Give this a listen if you're more of an audio person.

2. Don't ever cut corners when making your beer. Or at least don't let the accountants back near the brewhouse.
 

Watch our live talk tomorrow at 11:10am Eastern on YouTube


Four Strategies for Extending your Brewery's Brand Beyond Beer


 
Cody and I are excited to speak at tomorrow's Craft Beer Professional Conference about a few specific strategies your brewery can use to extend its brand beyond beer. This is a timely talk that will help your brewery navigate complex brand architecture decisions as you scale your business. ⁠It's also a sneak peek at the book that we've been working on for the last 18 months(!!!).

Here's a direct link to the YouTube video.

Or, register for free at the link below (and say hi in the comments tomorrow).

Latest Resources

Check out our brand refresh with Montana's BitterRoot Brewing


 
We worked with the BitterRoot team throughout 2020 on a subtle brand refresh. Our challenge: how to retain the same homespun charm that's been in place since 1998 while better presenting on shelf to boost sales. This work extended to core positioning and strategy, identity, packaging, merch and sales material.

Cultivating a Craft Podcast (CODO client spotlight)


 
Fertile Ground Brewing is a brewery in planning (and CODO client) down in Jackson, Mississippi. They've started a podcast to document their startup journey and were gracious enough to interview my business partner (and CODO Creative Director), Cody, about their branding process.
 

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)


 

Ready to learn more?


250.png

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.

Want to work together?

Email Isaac to get started. 

isaac@2x.png
isaac@cododesign.com +1 (317) 403-3173
If you’re enjoying the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter, we’d love if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up.
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CODO Design is an Indianapolis, Indiana-based food and beverage branding firm. We develop strategically-sound branding and packaging that cuts through the noise and drives long term revenue growth.


902 Virginia Avenue, Ste 200
Indianapolis, IN 46203

56ac0af1-82fc-4990-97dc-fbc4f884a48c.png   84b882f0-c973-4414-9cb5-36557377e3fe.png

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/lessons-from-the-beer-wars/
*|MC:SUBJECT|*
logo.png VOL. 009

The Coming Seltzer Shakeout? Or, how many brands can your brewery maintain?

 

In the Great Seltzer Rush™ of 2019/20/21, we spoke with easily 50+ breweries who were working to get a hard seltzer out the door as soon as possible. 

Savvier groups understood that a hard seltzer might not work within their broader portfolio, whether from a philosophical angle (e.g. why would our brewery make anything other than beer?) or from a market perception angle (e.g. what would making a seltzer say about our brewery?). 

In response to these questions, the breweries we spoke and worked with were generally planning 1 of 3 options:

1. Release some sort of endorsed brand. E.g. Wild Basin Hard Seltzer by Oskar Blues Brewing / Más Agave Hard Seltzer by Founders / AlpenBlume Hard Seltzer by Prost Brewing 

2. Create an entirely new brand, effectively becoming a House of Brands at the corporate level along the way. E.g. Vive Hard Seltzer (Braxton Brewing) / Truly Hard Seltzer (Boston Beer)

3. Don’t overthink it and just release a straight brand extension (e.g. XYZ Brewing Hard Seltzer). Yolo, indeed.

I believe we're going to see something of a shakeout over the next few years as breweries across the country (sub 5k barrels per year outfits, specifically) begin retiring these seltzers from their portfolios or relegating them to summer seasonal releases. Particularly from those breweries that rushed to market by creating an entirely new brand (so option 1 to some extent and definitely option 2, from above). 

This shakeout will be driven by a few key macro trends:

1. The market is maturing (so overall consumer trial is stalling—seltzer isn't as novel as it was over the last few years).

2. The tidal wave of new seltzer brands hitting the market seems to be causing consumer confusion (hard seltzer SKU-maggedon?) 

3. For the next year or more, we'll (hopefully) be contending with a channel shift back from almost entirely off-premise to a more standard mix of off- and on-premise as the pandemic wanes. 

4. Consumers moving to hard seltzer over the last few years might have been indicative of a move beyond beer in general, more so than a move toward hard seltzer specifically. So kombucha, RTD cocktails, teas and functional beverages are all in play as the next "thing."  



But I think there's a more mundane reason that will drive this shakeout as well. Managing multiple brands is expensive. And it's hard work. And it's expensive and hard every day because building and maintaining a brand never stops. You have to continually invest in branding and marketing to drive sales. 

And if you've created a separate brand that has to be actively managed—complete with its own values, value props, social channels, messaging and positioning objectives—and it's not gaining traction (say, hovering around 5 to 7% of your overall sales), then it could be a distraction and not worth the effort to keep in rotation. 

We've heard this very sentiment from several breweries directly.

Despite what you’re seeing in headlines—“Hard seltzer boom goes flat” “Boston Beer stock is crashing because the hard seltzer boom is basically over”—the hard seltzer category is still growing. It’s actually outpacing beer by a long shot, but this growth is largely up top amongst the established players. For everyone else, the hundreds of smaller brands scattered across the country, it’s going to be increasingly tough to stand out and gain anything resembling velocity. 

To close us out here, let's revisit what David Bower, President of Upland Brewing said about hard seltzer in our 2021 Beer Branding Trends review:

…The size of the hard seltzer category does not equate to the ease in which one can find success within it. The hard seltzer space is as embattled as the rest, and you have to be dedicated to long-term, perseverant brand building efforts to be a contender. It’s not simply a choice of turning on the seltzer money faucet. It’s the familiar slog. Like anything else, it’s critically important that you love what you do and stay true to your passions.



What do you think? Have you had these conversations with your team? Shoot me an email to let me know if I'm close or way off base here. 

Actionable Takeaways


1. If your brewery is working to release a hard seltzer, make sure you have a plan to put the resources behind it to support and scale the brand long term, no different than you would with an exciting new beer line.

2. The closer your hard seltzer brand is to your parent brand, the easier it is to manage on a day-to-day basis. This can be a good route, if you're not worried about the potential to dilute, confuse or hurt your parent's positioning, that is. (isn't brand architecture fun?)

 

Podcast Update!


Beer Branding Trends Podcast will debut this November


 
The Beer Branding Trends Podcast will be a bi-weekly show diving into all aspects of Bev/Alc branding. We've been working on this for several months and are excited to finally share it with you all.

Subscribe now so you won't miss the first episode. 

Latest Resources

We're speaking at the Craft Beer Professionals Virtual Conference 


 
Mark your calendars for two CODO presentations at this fall's CBP conference. Tuesday, October 19 at 11am Eastern will be our first talk: Three Strategies for Extending Your Breweries Brand Beyond Beer.

This is a sneak peek at the book that we've been working on for 18 months. (we'll finish this bad boy someday, I promise). 

Then, Cody will join a panel discussion on Wednesday at 12pm Eastern to discuss the importance of brand building for a brewery. 

Refreshing Tinker Coffee's Brand


 
Excited to share our brand refresh work with Tinker Coffee. The scope spanned an identity, packaging and website revamp.
 

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)


 

Ready to learn more?


250.png

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.

Want to work together?

Email Isaac to get started. 

isaac@2x.png
isaac@cododesign.com +1 (317) 403-3173
If you’re enjoying the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter, we’d love if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up.
c1f38ea3-487e-48e9-ac2c-ad1285ca026f.png

CODO Design is an Indianapolis, Indiana-based food and beverage branding firm. We develop strategically-sound branding and packaging that cuts through the noise and drives long term revenue growth.


902 Virginia Avenue, Ste 200
Indianapolis, IN 46203

56ac0af1-82fc-4990-97dc-fbc4f884a48c.png   84b882f0-c973-4414-9cb5-36557377e3fe.png

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/the-coming-seltzer-shakeout/
*|MC:SUBJECT|*
logo.png VOL. 008

How to Break Category Rules for Fun & Profit

 

Hey there. Hope you’ve been well. 

Quick—think about hard seltzer packaging. What do you see?

I bet it’s something along the lines of a 12oz slim can. It’s predominantly white with black type (possibly run vertically) and a fruit illustration. The secondary pack is also mostly white, and features all the cans across the front. It’s a variety pack (because it’s hard seltzer, after all). 

Hard seltzer has a look. A clearly defined canon. And the vertical exploded so quickly that there was no time for consumer education along the way. Once White Claw tipped and became the weird cultural phenomenon that it is, everyone else had to react. And for competitors, this meant looking similarly enough visually that you register as belonging in the category, but just different enough to stand on your own.

Let’s look at the hot new trend of flavor blasted(!!!) hard seltzer punches and lemonades. 

This packaging is all bright and full color, with nary a predominately white can in sight. But how can this be? How will people know these are hard seltzers if they don’t look like hard seltzer?

Aside from speaking to a specific product attribute (e.g. Welcome to Flavor Town®, baby!), how can they pull this off?

This works because these are not hard seltzers. Not in the way that the category has come to be defined. 

By having a different functional benefit (e.g. full flavor without all the carbs), and different emotional benefits (e.g. I can indulge without ruining my diet), these are essentially a new category. 

It might be too early to make that bold a claim, but you can see the beginnings of that shift through the packaging and positioning of these products already.

They are not hard seltzers. They are hard seltzer punch. Or hard seltzer lemonade. Or hard seltzer tea. And this means they are not bound by category rules and visual vocabulary of hard seltzer, proper.

This same idea is at play in beer packaging where certain styles, and regions, just have a look. IPAs are green. Lagers look like nostalgic regional brands. Big barrel aged stouts look brown and, well, big and intimidating. Even domestic macro brands have a certain look—which is why, to the trained eye, it’s easy to spot fake craft brands out in the wild. They just can’t shake that mega brand provenance and sheen. 

This framework makes it easy to stand out, visually. Even more so if you don’t have to worry about duking it out with the number 1 brand in a category and therefore can’t take a wild chance on boundary pushing package design. 

Some fun examples? Hazy IPAs have a look that completely separates them from traditional IPAs—namely, maximalist pressure sensitive labels (with minimal branding) slapped on a brite 16oz can. 

Though they share the IPA style in name, Hazy’s have a markedly different visual ruleset than traditional (clear?) IPAs. This styling helps them to be categorically differentiated from traditional IPAs.

So Hazy IPAs are a great example. And sour beers before them. It would’ve been cool to see where the Brut IPA aesthetic could have landed (I’m guessing more nostalgic regional aesthetics). But alas, us fickle beer fans moved onto the next shiny thing, effectively killing it in the cradle before a common language could be defined. 



The point I’m trying to make here, is that by breaking down visual vocabulary and category “rules,” you will have a framework for working within, and around, depending on your communication and positioning goals. 

You can make something different, just for the fun of it. For the wit and surprise and delight that it brings. 

Or, you can get strategic and create a new category to bypass all of those rules in the first place.



TLDR: go shotgun a Truly Hard Lemonade Punch this weekend. Just don’t call it a seltzer.

Actionable Takeaways


It's far easier to differentiate based on product category than it is by brand alone. So before wading into a crowded space, see if there is an opportunity to innovate. This can be right on the periphery of an established category, or more boldly by creating a new category altogether.

E.g. Not hard seltzer, but hard seltzer punch.
 

#CODOReads


Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy


 
This is a phenomenal book that marries Behavioral Economics with contemporary branding and marketing practices. This might actually be the most practical application I've found after reading more than 20 books on the subject. 

It overlaps Daniel Kahneman's work from Thinking, Fast and Slow in an interesting way. E.g. how we can create mental shortcuts to get someone to purchase one product over another.

Apologies in advance for talking about and referencing this book all the time over the next several months. I may even dedicate an entire BBT issue to this subject. Stay tuned. 

Latest Resources

How Craft Beer Can Compete (& Win) in Chain Retail


 
We sat down with Zink Distributing for an informative conversation on how craft beer can compete in large chain retail.⁠

Topics range from how to sell more beer in large chain retail, common mistakes to avoid during the process, and is there still room for craft beer in grocery stores [in the face of seltzer mania]?

CODO interviewed in VinePair Article on Rebranding


 
We had a great conversation with Tara Nurin (VinePair) about brewery rebrands, including how to avoid the mistake of viewing an update as a bandaid to hide a more intrinsic issue. Plus, the importance of a properly re-introducing yourself to your fans through the update.

Beer & Bullshit Podcast with Mandie Murphy of Left Field


 
CODO client Mandie Murphy of Left Field Brewery (Toronto, ON) was recently interviewed on the Beer & Bullshit Podcast to discuss how they've weathered the pandemic.

She also walks through Left Field's recent brand refresh (CODO got a nice shoutout around the 27 minute mark).

Craft Beer, Rebranded now shipping Canada(!!!)


 
We've heard you, Canada. At least all 100 of you that have asked to buy a physical copy of our Craft Beer, Rebranded book bundle. 

CBR is now shipping to every person / province / territory across Canada. 
 

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)


 

Ready to learn more?


250.png

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.

Want to work together?

Email Isaac to get started. 

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isaac@cododesign.com +1 (317) 403-3173
If you’re enjoying the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter, we’d love if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up.
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CODO Design is an Indianapolis, Indiana-based food and beverage branding firm. We develop strategically-sound branding and packaging that cuts through the noise and drives long term revenue growth.


902 Virginia Avenue, Ste 200
Indianapolis, IN 46203

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https://beerbrandingtrends.com/breaking-category-convention/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss when (and when not) to rebrand a brewery.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion

  1. Overall look is dated and inconsistent (And no longer reflects your core values and current version of your business)
  2. You’re making major changes within your company. You are repositioning and/or specifically making major changes to your portfolio with new extensions, sub brands and other brand architecture restructuring
  3. You don’t know how to tell your story.
  4. You always feel like you’re reinventing the wheel. (For you in house designers and marketing directors out there)
  5. Some tactical project—e.g. new website, format change—reveals larger messaging issues that need to be resolved.
  6. You’re self conscious of your branding.
  7. When not to rebrand: If there are deep, intrinsic problems with your business itself that have not been fixed, then a rebrand is a waste of money.

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

Learn more at www.craftbeerrebranded.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/when-and-when-not-to-rebrand-your-brewery/
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Do brewpubs need *great* branding?

Hey there, hope your week's off to a great start.

At one of our last in-person conference presentations (back in early 2020, right before the world ended) an audience member asked this question, and I’ve wanted to tackle the topic ever since. It feels timely now that everyone is opening back up, and meeting people (!) at brewpubs and taprooms to drink beer (!!!) in person (!!!!!!!!) is a thing again. 

I'll address this question from its original perspective: does a brewpub, specifically a taproom-based model with no intention to ever package beer for distribution or carryout, need to have compelling branding? Do you need a beautiful identity system when the beer and taproom experience itself is what will keep people coming back?

*cop out time* It depends. 

Our default answer: Your business efforts should always be well-branded. Always. Having an easily graspable, compelling story that allows your customers (and potential customers) to understand what you stand for (and why they should swing by) will always be crucial. Further, why would you dedicate a good portion of your time, energy and treasure to something as personal as a small business and not want its identity to look badass?

But… do you need great branding to stay viable? Let's discuss a couple scenarios.
 

Scenario 1: You don’t need it (but you should still have it) 

Can you open a small brewery in an underserved market, not really invest in great branding, and build a sustainable "lifestyle" business (that is, crank out a few hundred barrels per year, and stay at that level for as long as you want)? You probably can. Even though we're still technically dealing with COVID-19, I do think this model will continue to work, as it has for thousands of breweries across the States over the last decade. Just cross your fingers that another 5 breweries (who might invest in branding) don’t open down the street in the future.

 

Scenario 2: You won’t last without it 

If you are in an area with lots of competition, then great branding becomes table stakes. Imagine opening a small taproom in Denver (or San Diego, or Portland, or Austin, or any major market at this point) without spending any time thinking through your brand strategy and identity. This appraoch would not fly. Strong branding is even more important if your audience skews younger, e.g. design-conscious younger Millennials and ultra media-savvy members of Gen Z.

People want to go to a well-designed taproom. They want a great experience—great beer, great ambiance, great vibe. They want to signal that they are well informed and have great taste. If your brewpub isn’t well-branded, then those thirsty folks are more than likely to go down the street to a place that is. 

Say you’re considering opening a brewpub in an undeserved market and want to create a small, fun place. You don’t want to take over the world—why should you invest in your branding?  


Point 1: Branding as a signal 

Investing in your brand is a signal that you intend to stick around for the long haul. Otherwise, why would you invest in your identity? I never want to oversell the importance of a logo (on its own), but it does serve as a quick evaluation tool for people. "Does this place look cool? Then I bet their beer is pretty good."

At a base level, branding is a signal that a company is well run, puts out a quality product and is to be trusted. 


Point 2: What if you grow?

If you ever want to extend your brand—get into packaging (because of, say, a pandemic…), produce a non-beer product, open a satellite taproom, create a festival, open any other type of concept—then having a solid foundational brand will be crucial. How can you expand and extend something that is non-existent to begin with? Even if you have no intention of extending your brand and building something larger right now, you should set yourself up so that you can if the right opportunity presents itself down the line.

One of my favorite examples of this is our work for Big Lug Canteen. And now, Big Lug Brewing and Hospitality. 

We branded Big Lug Canteen as a one-off concept back in 2014 (read about that foundational project here). Eddie and Scott’s flagship brewpub was so successful that it acted as a springboard for several more restaurant concepts (each one as unique as it is beloved here in Indianapolis). They also restructured their brand architecture, creating the Big Lug Hospitality parent brand plus a rapidly-expanding production brewery.

Investing in their foundational brand, even when they had no grand vision beyond a fun brewpub, gave Big Lug the platform it needed to be on track to brew 10–13,000 barrels of beer annually over the next few years. 

Would 0 to 13k bbls per year have been possible without great branding? Big Lug co-founder, Eddie Sahm himself, doesn't think so—listen to this podcast episode where we discussed this very topic.



So, to wrap this up: Can you operate a functional brewpub without spending the time and resources to develop great branding? Absolutely. But why would you want to? Compelling branding is the most cost-effective way to stake out your position in the market. A strong visual identity and a clear brand direction gives you a plethora of options should you decide to grow or pivot your efforts down the line. Otherwise, you could be painting yourself into a corner for the future. Plus, what will stop three other great breweries from opening in your neck of the woods later on? You need to attract customers and demonstrate why you’re their best choice, now and for the future. Great branding can help you achieve this.

#CODOReads


The Advantage


CODO is going through a strategic planning process ahead of a few senior hires and planned growth. Part of that process includes revisiting our core values and The Advantage outlines the best process for defining your values that we've ever found. 

The process, which includes three levels of values—core, pay-to-play and aspirational values—is so powerful that CODO is now including the methodology as part of our own brand strategy process.

Latest Resources

In-House with Jack's Abby Craft Lagers


New In-House Series conversation with Rob Day, Sr. Director of Marketing for Jack's Abby Craft Lagers. Loads of great stuff here ranging from positioning, to actively living by your core values to lagers. Lots and lots of lager.

CODO's Podcast


Our 2021 Beer Branding Trends Q&A podcast has already been downloaded over 1k times(!)

We've got big plans for this channel that should start rolling out later this year. If you enjoy these sorts of insights, consider heading over there  and subscribing.

Time Traveling with the Beer Can Archaeologist


David Maxwell is an archaeologist and avid vintage beer can collector. Back in 1993, he combined these passions to write the paper, 'Beer Cans: A Guide for the Archaeologist,' and has been an internationally-recognized expert on the subject ever since. ⁠

We were lucky to sit down with David to discuss historic beer packaging, and along the way, discovered how very little of what we see in food and bev packaging today is actually new. 

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)


Ready to learn more?


250.png

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.

Want to work together?

Email Isaac to get started.

isaac@2x.png
isaac@cododesign.com +1 (317) 403-3173
If you’re enjoying the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter, we’d love if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up.
https://beerbrandingtrends.com/do-brewpubs-need-great-branding/
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Listen to our Beer Branding Trends AMA Podcast

Thanks to everyone who sent in a question about our 2021 Craft Beer Branding Trends article. We received about 25 questions from you all and decided that audio would be a more expedient (and fun) way to field them, versus cranking out another 10k word article. 



Listen (& subscribe!) on Apple Podcasts.
 
Listen (and subscribe!) on Spotify.




We answered the following questions.

1. What’s your favorite packaging trend this year?

2. Do brewpubs really need to package their beer? There were several mentions to this effect and I’m not sure I agree with you. Won’t this need fade once we’re beyond COVID?

3. Can you expand on the packaging lifespan thought from the packaging refresh trend? Isn’t the goal to have your packaging become iconic so people can pick it off a shelf anywhere they go? If you're updating it every couple years, how will people know what to look for on shelf?

4. We’re currently a brewery in planning. We’re considering a 12-pack out of the gate (with painted cans) and wanted to see what you thought about this plan?

5. It seems like an “endorsed brand” is the best way to launch a new hard seltzer. Is this approach what you suggest to the majority of your clients or should we consider any other avenues?

6. You mentioned that package design might not need to look like a rigid system if it’s not going to be distributed and end up on shelf. I’m a designer myself and was surprised to hear this. Can you explain what benefits there would be for a brewery’s packaging to not be consistent?

7. I agree that the sub brand family approach is working well for older breweries. Do you think a younger brewery could employ this approach or is time in the market what makes it work in the first place?

We also received a thoughtful email from Drizly about an opportunity most craft breweries are missing out on that can directly lead to an increase in beer sales. We read this email verbatim in our podcast episode, but wanted to include it here for you all to read as well. 

From Jay Sobel, Senior Data Analyst at Drizly 



One thing that jumped out from my perspective working with catalog operations at Drizly were the sections on brands going digital. There's an emerging digital angle missing from this piece that I think a lot of brands are sleeping on right now which is catalog management on leading eCommerce sites. 

Drizly manages a catalog of 200k+ products. Each product should have an image, description, a UPC, locality info and more. There are literally thousands of new products launched each week, and the only economical way to keep up has been outsourcing the work and prioritizing products in a "top down" fashion (slow for small brands).

What a lot of brands don't know is that Drizly has a site called Drizly Supplier (supplier.drizly.com / brands.drizly.com for sign up) that allows them to directly manage their products within the Drizly catalog (their existence, their images, everything else). It's a relationship that hasn't accelerated nearly as quickly as consumer preferences for delivery have through the pandemic. Products that gain an image triple their add-to-carts, and product data (when it exists) is leveraged throughout the consumer funnel in automated features like recommendation emails and "because you bought" shelves. There's money on the table for the small brands that can perfect their portfolio on sites like Drizly soonest — before it becomes a norm, and it's just generally one of the highest ROI 'digital efforts' especially compared to social content.

There are lots of funny cases where a small brand has a great website and a solid Instagram presence, but on Drizly — where there's an actual "buy" button – they are underperforming by 10x because their products are barely represented.

In the bigger picture, these sites rely on product attributes a bit differently than retailers have in the past. For example, UPC is absolutely critical to inventory recognition. Brands that use the same UPC across variety packs or changing seasonal products are shooting themselves in the foot (maybe leg) on eCommerce because that does not play well in our system.

Actionable Takeaways


1. Get your Drizly profile squared away with proper photos, product descriptions and UPC info if you're on that platform and haven't already. 

2. If you're an older brewery reading this, consider if there could be an opportunity to attract a younger (new) audience through a sub brand. Or possibly by spinning off one of your better selling beers into its own sub (or stand-alone) brand?

3. Subscribe to our podcast. We've got big plans for this channel over the next 6 months.

Latest Resources

Time Traveling with the Beer Can Archaeologist


David Maxwell is an archaeologist and avid vintage beer can collector. Back in 1993, he combined these passions to write the paper, Beer Cans: A Guide for the Archaeologist, and has been an internationally-recognized expert on the subject ever since. ⁠

⁠We were lucky to sit down with David to discuss historic beer packaging, and along the way, discovered how very little of what we see in food and bev packaging today is actually new. ⁠

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)


Ready to learn more?


250.png

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.

Want to work together?

Email Isaac to get started.

isaac@2x.png
isaac@cododesign.com +1 (317) 403-3173
If you’re enjoying the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter, we’d love if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up.
https://beerbrandingtrends.com/2021-trends-ama/
logo.png VOL. 005

CODO's 2021 Beer Branding Trends Review Out Now + our AMA

Our 2021 Beer Branding Trends review is out now—click here to read it.

Clocking in at just under 20k words, this is the most thorough annual guide we've put together to date. We've explored four core areas:

– COVID-19 Effects
– Major Industry Trends 
– Craft Beer Branding (& Package Design) Trends 
– Expert Opinions

We're going to treat the June issue of the BBT Newsletter as an ask-me-anything (AMA) related to this article. If you have any questions you'd like us to field, on anything we discuss in this piece, please shoot me an email and we'll cover it next month.

Have any questions?


Email isaac@cododesign.com with any questions or thoughts you have on this year's branding trends review and we'll field them in next month's BBT issue.

Direct section links


Jump directly to COVID-19 Effects


Topics covered include: a continued need for packaging, DTC channels, "shopping on a mission," the aluminum shortage, triaging portfolios, C-stores and a move to embrace social and digital marketing. 

Jump directly to Major Industry Trends


Topics covered include: major brewery rebrands, packaging refreshes, variety packs, a focus on brand architecture, “clean labels,” “lo & no alc,” the curious case of higher octane seltzers, slim cans, innovation teams running wild and kombucha?

Jump directly to Branding (& Package Design) Trends


Trends identified include: “Chobanification,” “slaps,” “Bifurcation,” “V. Vibrant,” “Vintage Mascots,” “Tombstone Typography,” “Illustrated Ingredients,” and “Miami Vice, Baby.”

Jump directly to Expert Opinions


This year, we’re fortunate to be joined by eighteen industry experts spanning brewery founders, CEOs, distributors, marketing directors, leading industry consultants, writers, strategists and economists.

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)


Ready to learn more?


250.png

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.

Want to work together?

Email Isaac to get started.

isaac@2x.png
isaac@cododesign.com +1 (317) 403-3173
If you’re enjoying the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter, we’d love if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up.
https://beerbrandingtrends.com/branding-trends-out-now/
logo.png VOL. 004

Multipacks (12-packs & Variety Packs)—when more is more

 

We helped a lot of breweries launch multipacks (12-packs and variety packs) in 2020. Variety Packs have been a perennial best seller in craft beer, though mostly for larger breweries (call it, somewhere around 8k+ bbls per year). But we saw a sharp uptick in smaller breweries getting into this format last year as well.

The pandemic and “mission-driven shopping” trend drove a lot of demand for variety packs, along with traditional 12-packs. (Market research company IRI tracked 12-packs of 12oz craft cans growing at more than 52% YOY in 2020. And Drizly reported that 12-packs accounted for 42% of all beer sales throughout 2020.)

Doug Veliky over at Revolution Brewing (and the fantastic Beer Crunchers blog) put together a great breakdown of why the 12-pack format is working so well right now. You should go read it directly from him.

If you can get the cost of goods sold (COGS) and production figured out, this is definitely worth exploring. Here are a few tactical things to think about if your brewery is considering this offering.

1. A carton packaging machine is a major capital investment. You can get around this by using folding 12-pack boxes that don’t require glue. In our experience though, these rarely look as nice as glued up boxes (the graphics never seem to align properly). But this is all about tradeoffs and doing everything you can to get your beer out to your fans quickly (during COVID-19, anyway). 

2. Breweries usually include a rotational or seasonal beer in each variety pack to keep people interested. This presents a problem with how to communicate what that new offering is at scale. Printing a new run of cases every time you add a new beer is usually out of the question for smaller brewers because you want to print as many of one design as you can to get the per-unit cost down. 

So what can you do?

Stickers? Check boxes? A window in the packaging to let the seasonal beer peek through? Or, should you simply call it a “surprise seasonal” so you don’t have to mess with this issue at all? Yep, these all work. I can’t tell you which works best because your project context, brand and budget should drive that decision. But if you want to include a seasonal in your variety pack, you will need to figure this out. So think about it now.

Bonus thought 

We’ve seen a lot of breweries put their beer cans across the front of a box, label it a “variety pack” or a “party pack” and call it a day.

Putting cans on the box is fine (it’s actually become a category convention, stemming from when breweries first started putting 6-pack cans in boxes. How else will people know what’s in these boxes!?). But this naming convention is lazy a missed opportunity.

A variety pack should be viewed as its own unique brand with its own unique value proposition. And it should be positioned and named as such.

Actionable Takeaways


1. Think through whether or not you have a beer(s) that could benefit from being sold as a 12-pack. This is as much a COGs decision as it is a brand decision.

2. Is there a beer that lends itself to a particular drinking occasion—a day at the lake? A family picnic. Camping with friends? Commiserating with your friends after you’ve been ejected from your kid’s soccer game (again)? Use these ideas to brand and position your multipack so it has its own fun value prop (beyond simply being more beer from your brewery).

3. Be weary of 15-packs.
 

What’s On Deck?


2021 Craft Beer Branding Trends Published Next Month!


 
Our 2021 Beer Branding Trends report drops on May 10th, and it’s… detailed. Clocking in at just under 20k words, we’ll be diving into 4 key areas:

– COVID-19 Effects
– Major Industry Trends 
– Craft Beer Branding (& Package Design) Trends 
– Expert Opinions 

We’ll email you when this debuts and would like to treat June’s Beer Branding Trends newsletter as a followup AMA where we field any questions you have on this piece. 

More on this next month, friends. 

Latest Resources

CODO x BrewBound Podcast


 
We had an insightful conversation on the BrewBound podcast about how a brewery can rebrand without confusing (or enraging) its fans. This was hot on the heels of the Anchor Brewing rebrand.

Check this out if your brewery is considering a refresh anytime soon. Or if you want to hear my not-at-all-annoying voice. 

How Rhinegeist Brewery Built a World Class Brand with an In-House Agency


 
Here’s the first conversation in our new series, “In-House,” where we’re exploring what it takes to build a world-class brand from inside a brewery. Today, we’re speaking with Greg Althoff, Creative Director at Rhinegeist Brewery.⁠

Beer Branding: A journey through the American craft beer (& design) boom


 

This should be fun (we don’t speak to design groups too often these days). Looking forward to the conversation. We’ll tell some war stories, walk you through our branding process and explain how *you too* can become an 11 year over-night success.

7pm Eastern on April 22 via Zoom. Let’s get weird.

 

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)


 

Ready to learn more?


250.png

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.

Want to work together?

Email Isaac to get started. 

isaac@2x.png
isaac@cododesign.com +1 (317) 403-3173
If you’re enjoying the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter, we’d love if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up.
https://beerbrandingtrends.com/variety-packs/
logo.png VOL. 003

Can a brewery get away with not packaging its beer anymore?

When the full weight of COVID-19 hit in March 2020, taprooms across the country were shut down. This sparked a mad dash for breweries to get beer into packaging as fast as possible. The most common format was, of course, cans—12oz, 16oz, hand-labeled, pressure sensitive labels, shrink wrap labels—whatever you could get your hands on.

Looking beyond the current moment, I think one of the lasting changes in the beer industry triggered by the pandemic will be the expectation for breweries to continually package their beer—even for those small breweries who have historically focused on taproom and keg distribution sales only.

We’ve now had well over a year to form new habits. Chiefly, grabbing packaged beer from a brewery or grocery store and drinking it at home. There are plenty of people who will get back out there and hit taprooms just as they did before once we’re past this. But there will be a lot of folks with a newly formed habit of drinking craft beer at home. And to serve them, you’ll need to package your beer. 

Once a customer enjoys your beer at home (and has had a chance to build that new habit), this will become the expectation. And it may last well beyond when we no longer have to wear a mask to pick up our beer.

Consistently inconsistent? 

What are the downstream effects on brewery package design systems? For smaller breweries who are packaging their beer for carryout, as opposed to off-premise sales, does it matter if packaging doesn’t billboard on shelf? Does it matter if the packaging is inconsistent or doesn’t perfectly provide a style and tasting notes and all the things we’ve come to know as need-to-haves for consumer packaged goods (CPG)? 

The designer in me says, “Of course these things matter. You’re still selling a beverage and your branding needs to elevate the product.” But the pragmatic, non-designer in me also realizes that without the context of other beer packaging competing for your attention—these cans are essentially small, aluminum growlers. They can be well branded, but they are utilitarian first—simply a means to get beer home. 

Flagship packaging (and flagship beers for those who can produce it at volume) will always be important because it is easy to market and scale. But for the small brewery that has no problem selling everything it cans, the design language could drift to become more inconsistent and individual to each beer release, style and beer name itself. This has actually been happening for years with small batch, hype-y breweries with line-around-the-block beer “drops.” But COVID-19 could accelerate this trend beyond that niche to mainstream status.

Actionable Takeaways


1. Consider building rulesets, templates and guidelines for how you design, position and market new beer releases. If you have to reinvent the wheel with each new launch, you won't be consistent and will spend more time (and $$$) than necessary on design. This will cut into your already diminished margin. 

2. Even if your beer is packaged for carryout only, design it as though it will be on shelf and competing with other local offerings. This will position you to seize distribution opportunities that arise without having to retool your packaging.

#CODOReads


Spent


Spent is one of the more concise and applicable behavioral economics book I’ve read over the last few years. There are loads of great ideas for how you can use Signaling to tailor your portfolio toward different audiences.

Latest Resources

CODO x Craft Beer Marketing Awards Podcast


We had a fun conversation with the team behind the Craft Beer Marketing Awards. We discussed craft beer's timeline from 2000 to today and what role branding has played in getting to this point. ⁠

The Role of Market Research in Brewery Go-to-Market Planning


“We’ll brew what we like and sell whatever we don’t drink,” is a fun refrain. But a brewery can no longer bank on coming to market and crushing it without properly understanding key trends, its competitive set, demographics and the regulatory landscape.

How Behavioral Economics (& Signaling) Can Build Stronger Beer Brands


By studying Signaling, you are able to understand the motivations behind why someone buys your beer. What role does your brewery play in their life? And what story does buying your beer allow them to tell the world about themself? 

Field Notes


Sub-brand families, distributor power moves, differentiating seltzer and the perils of de-branded packaging in off-premise channels.⁠ Here's what we noticed in this week's outing.

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)


Ready to learn more?


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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.

Want to work together?

Email Isaac to get started.

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isaac@cododesign.com +1 (317) 403-3173
If you’re enjoying the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter, we’d love if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up.
https://beerbrandingtrends.com/can-a-brewery-not-package/
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Let’s discuss the Anchor Brewing Rebrand Controversy

 

The iconic Anchor Brewing recently launched a stark rebrand that was met with fervent backlash. The public response was so loud and universally negative that Anchor Brewing actually made a public post addressing the “controversy.”

We’re hesitant to ever critique another agency’s work publicly because we weren’t involved in the project. So we don’t understand the behind the scenes strategy, brief and goals (let alone the approval process the agency had to contend with along the way). And beyond this, I don’t want to be another asshole throwing bombs at the people in the arena. 

And in this particular case, I actually love the brewery in question. Anchor Brewing was one of the first 3 or 4 craft breweries I experienced that sent me down the very path that lead me to working with breweries every single day. 

This being said, we’ve had about 20 people send this story to us for comment and opinion over the last week (including many folks who are subscribed to this very newsletter). 

So in the spirit of constructive criticism, here’re some initial reactions as well as some important lessons that other breweries, legacy or not, can think about if they’re considering a rebrand.

ON STRATEGY & GOALS

We don’t have access to the project brief and behind the scenes strategy. However, after rebranding a few dozen breweries, we do see a similar set of goals that they typically want to accomplish through this process. I’d put money on Anchor focusing on the following:

– We want to breathe new life into the brand and reach a younger audience 

– We want to clean up inconsistencies across the packaging

– We want to better billboard on shelf

– We want to clean up our label hierarchy and fix the “Anchor Steam Brewing” vs. Anchor Brewing issue

– We want to increase revenue by XXX%

Again, these are guesses, but not exactly shots in the dark. Let’s assume they’re correct and move onto the next major point. 


EVOLUTION VS. REVOLUTION 

Any move to rebrand a legacy brewery is going to include an element of modernizing the overall aesthetics. And while there are no universal rules, it’s easy to go just a little too far and lose what was special about an old school look in the first place.

We frame this conversation with our clients as Evolution vs. Revolution. Are you completely reshaping your brewery’s culture and positioning? Are we throwing your logo out with the bathwater and creating wholesale visual change across the board? Or, are we building on decades of work and hard earned goodwill to make subtle updates in a natural progression? 

The deciding factor here, beyond specific goals and project context should be driven by Brand Equity. This is the total amount of goodwill your brand has with its customers. What lore and visual cues that, if lost through the new design work, would confuse customers and lead to lost sales.

And while the goals listed above are legitimate and do require some major changes, I just can’t imagine the conversations that lead to deciding that nuking 125 years of brand equity is the right move.
 

ON RETRO VS VINTAGE

We’ve had a now decade-long conversation at CODO about what constitutes vintage aesthetics and what this means for our current moment in time. “Vintage” is a word that gets thrown around like “craft”—it’s hard to pin down and means something different to everyone. 

From 2010 to 2020, hundreds (thousands?) of breweries came to market with vaguely retro / vintage / throwback branding. We called this “Nostalgic Regional” in our 2020 all-decade beer branding trends review.

My point here is that those breweries had to fake it. They had to rip holes in the knees of their jeans, so to speak. They had to use mish-mash typography and faux textures and every other little info type that we designers love to use (e.g. ESTD. 2019, TRDMRK) in their branding to look older than they were because they wanted that story.  

And to have a brewery like Anchor—with a genuine provenance that an untold number of other breweries are all seeking to convey—jettison that very story so abruptly like this is just… disappointing.

And beyond all this, ironically, Anchor might’ve had a better chance at courting Millennials (who have forgotten about them) and Gen Z (who have never heard of them) by leaning into their fun vintage look. See recent refreshes like Ranier, Iron City and even Budweiser for reference.


IN CONCLUSION

To conclude, this is a rough spot, both for Anchor and their agency. Anchor desperately needed to make a change, but it seems undeniable that they’ve missed the mark here.

I’ve avoided specifically calling out issues with the design itself in this piece. But to be blunt, even if Anchor had made a different (though equally drastic) update, I don’t think the response would be as negative if the result didn’t look so half-baked and stock. Put frankly, this looks like an early sketch. The typography needs more refinement and consideration. I don’t understand the different type treatment for the porter. The anchor illustration (arguably the most important element at play) is clunky, and has no sense of the history of this iconic brand. And the colors, while technically eye-catching, are garish and unrefined. 

This feedback isn’t particularly constructive and we can discuss subjective opinions about design all day. But the real barometer here—the one that matters more than anything else I’ve said—is will this update help Anchor right the ship and sell more beer?

Maybe Anchor knows something that we don’t, and this was the right move.

And as a fan, I hope they do.

Actionable Takeaways


1. A proper brand launch campaign wouldn’t provide enough cover fire for something as generic as this branding, but you do need to plan for how you roll out your rebrand. Lest you find yourself defending it on social media. Ouch.

2. I hope I’m wrong about all this and that Anchor sees great results from this effort.

3. Let’s take a moment to be thankful that we’re able to get upset over something so trivial. Call your parents this afternoon, take your dog for a walk and support your local Old Guard brewery. 

Latest Resources

Evolution vs. Revolution


 
What are the differences between a brand refresh and a full rebrand. And how can you determine which is the right path for your brewery?

Field Notes


 
What we noticed in the off-prem world this week, including 15-pack economics, FMBs, non-alcoholic’s interesting pricing and a few smart moves from legacy breweries.

A Sweeping Rebrand for Prost Brewing


 
Traditional Germany meets contemporary Denver. The result? A +341.1% sales growth in the first 5 months through large chain retail, to start.

Refreshing Left Field Brewery’s Brand


 
Sometimes a subtle refresh is in order. Also, beer and baseball—what’s not to love?
 

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)


 

Ready to learn more?


250.png

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.

Want to work together?

Email Isaac to get started. 

isaac@2x.png
isaac@cododesign.com +1 (317) 403-3173
If you’re enjoying the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter, we’d love if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up.
https://beerbrandingtrends.com/anchor-brewing/
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Transitioning from Brewery to “Beverage Company”
A focus on Brand Architecture

 

One of the biggest sea changes we’ve seen in the beer industry over the last few years has been a move away from being a single category company (e.g. a brewery) towards being a “house of brands” that offers a diversified portfolio of products in different categories to capture different consumer sets. 

In this context, a brewery’s parent brand often falls to the background (or disappears entirely) as it releases non-beer products. 

What drove this? 

Was it a flattening of the beer category after so many euphoric years of growth? Was it that 8,000th brewery that finally made competition too mucky? Was it Covid coming through and laying waste to every strategic plan in sight? Was it consumer trends shifting abruptly to drink other non-beer beverages, or, less alcohol in general? 

Yes. 

All of these factors are at play. The biggest trend driving this shift has been the rise of hard seltzer (the first non-beer beverage breweries have moved to produce en masse). But this has accelerated the already in-motion trend of consumers shifting away from beer specifically and toward a variety of other alcoholic (and non-alc) beverages in general. Think RTD cocktails, CBD-infused everything, THC (where legal), kombucha (about to “tip” if not already there), non-alcoholic seltzer, functional beverages and teas. This is what people in the beverage industry (cringingly) call “Share of Throat.”

So what does this mean for brand builders? 

If you’re thinking about launching an extension in 2021, you need to consider what role these products play in your portfolio and how your current positioning helps, or hinders, their chances for success. 

Let’s look at 2 examples—the specialist brewery and the generalist, both planning an extension.

1. The Specialist Brewery

If you’re an all sour brewery (and renowned for that), releasing anything other than sour beers can harm that positioning. You want people to think of your brewery when they want a sour beer. This example can apply toward any brewery that is known for a singular style—lagers, Belgians, functional better-for-you beers, barrel aged beer, etc. In this case, it might make sense for the sour brewery to create an entirely new brand—name, identity, packaging and website—for this hard seltzer. 

2. The Generalist Brewery

If you’re known as a generalist brewery, you have more flexibility in what you can produce because that’s what people will come to expect. Releasing a Pils one week and a Baltic Porter the next are the norm and would, in a way, give you more leeway to release a hard seltzer under your parent brand (because you’re not known for any one thing). In this case, it could* make sense to launch the hard seltzer under your current brand.

*But even this isn’t always the right choice. 

We’ve found that Brand Architecture isn’t black and white. Even when building fancy decision trees and rule sets, a decision should be weighed just as much against your core values, market opportunity, demand, and your parent brand’s positioning. 

We’re working on a cool resource to help breweries manage this process. Stay tuned, more on this later in 2021.

Actionable Takeaways

1. Consider your parent brand’s positioning when launching a non-beer extension. Does this new product add to, or detract from our parent positioning? 

2. Will your current customers be receptive to this new product / category, or will it cause them to question what your broader brand represents?

 

#CODOReads


Positioning

 
 
The most important goal of any brand should be to position itself as the first name you think of when you need that thing. Once you achieve that status, anything you do to distract from it, like release a new product (with different value props) under the same brand name, will dilute the very core brand positioning that you’ve fought to own.
 
 

Latest Resources


Brand Architecture introduction (video)

 
 

Here’s a quick overview on Brand Architecture from our Craft Beer, Rebranded video series.
 

A detailed look at Brand Architecture (conference presentation)

 
 

Here’s an in depth look at Brand Architecture from our fall Craft Beer Professionals virtual conference presentation, including some practical approaches for launching an extension.
 

 

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)


 

Ready to learn more?


250.png

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.
 

Want to work together?

Email Isaac to get started. 

isaac@2x.png
isaac@cododesign.com +1 (317) 403-3173
If you’re enjoying the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter, we’d love if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up.
https://beerbrandingtrends.com/brewery-to-beverage-company/

Episode Summary

Fielding community submitted questions on CODO’s 2021 Craft Beer Branding Trends article.

Episode Notes

CODO Design cofounder, Isaac Arthur, fields community submitted questions about our 2021 Craft Beer Branding Trends article.

  1. What’s your favorite packaging trend this year?
  2. Do brewpubs really need to package their beer? There were several mentions to this effect and I’m not sure I agree with you. Won’t this need fade once we’re beyond COVID?
  3. Can you expand on the packaging lifespan thought from the packaging refresh trend? Isn’t the goal to have your packaging become iconic so people can pick it off a shelf anywhere they go?  If you’re updating it every couple years, how will people know what to look for on shelf?
  4. We’re currently a brewery in planning. We’re considering a 12-pack out of the gate (with painted cans) and wanted to see what you thought about this plan?
  5. It seems like an “endorsed brand” is the best way to launch a new hard seltzer. Is this approach what you suggest to the majority of your clients or should we consider any other avenues?
  6. You mentioned that package design might not need to look like a rigid system if it’s not going to be distributed and end up on shelf. I’m a designer myself and was surprised to hear this. Can you explain what benefits there would be for a brewery’s packaging to not be consistent?
  7. I agree that the sub brand family approach is working well for older breweries. Do you think a younger brewery could employ this approach or is time in the market what makes it work in the first place?

Read the 2021 Craft Beer Branding Trends article.

Buy the Craft Beer, Rebranded  book.

Have a topic or question you’d like us to field on the show? Shoot it our way: hello@cododesign.com

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/2021-craft-beer-branding-trends-ama/