Join 5,500+ other subscribers

Expert analysis that helps your team make better branding decisions and build a more resilient business.

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to discuss the differences between a brewery’s Mission and Vision, why this matters, and how it can help you build a more purposeful business.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. Your Mission is your brewery’s immediate, day-to-day marching orders.

2. Your vision is future-facing and tells the world where you’re going.

3. Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle (Start with Why).

4. Who would win in a no holds barred fight between Simon Sinek or Cody Fague. Simon is in better shape, but Cody has nothing to live for.

5. Intrinsic reasons that drive entrepreneurs vs. public-facing stories.

6. How do we frame your vision?

7. Examples of a Mission and Vision statement from your friends at CODO Design.

8. The best scene from the Sopranos? “Is this about the Easter baskets?”

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-mission-vision/
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VOL. 018

2022 Beer Branding Trends Community Q&A Podcast

Well, hello there!

Cody and I recorded a special podcast episode answering YOUR questions on this year's Beer Branding Trends review.

Listen to the show here.

(or wherever fine podcasts are streamed)



We received 23.5 questions from you all spanning Brand Architecture, SKU rationalization, non alcoholic beer, variety packs and "Dayparting." And one guy wrote in with a single word — "Skulls!!!" (so that's either a question or a threat? I'm going to call it half a question)

After reviewing all the submissions, we picked 10 questions to discuss in this episode, including:

1. We’ll be releasing a hard seltzer later this summer as a brand extension under our brewery’s name. Is there any downside to branding it under our brewery’s brand and not as its own thing? We already have plans for future flavors, if that’s relevant.

2. I’m a long time newsletter subscriber and was surprised you didn’t include the hard seltzer shakeout idea in the annual review. Did something change between the time you wrote that email and the publishing of this article that makes you think that was an incorrect prediction? 

3. What was your favorite [visual] trend this year? 

4. We’re a small brewery in planning near Cleveland. We're wondering if we should think about our brand architecture as part of this [foundational branding] process? We plan to eventually move into other categories (specifically a distillery), and weren’t sure if we needed to sort that out at this early stage? 

5. Do you think non alcoholic beer is going to be a major category, something along the lines of 5% share at some point, or is this kind of new and shiny, along the lines of hard seltzer three years ago?

6. Do you have any thoughts on putting cans on the front of variety packs? 

7. What do you think about Voodoo Ranger's new light lager? Do you think that will actually work? Voodoo Ranger is a dominant IPA brand and I wonder if this release could hurt New Belgium’s Voodoo Ranger strategy? 

8. The “Dayparting” trend is interesting. Do you think there would be any issue with a brewery releasing a coffee brand or some sort of energy brand targeted for mornings? 

9. Are there any trends that didn’t make the cut for this year's review?

10. How do you feel about the craft beer industry as a whole? The last few years have been marked by several major reckonings on race and gender (specifically sexual harassment and assault), and of course Covid. Are you optimistic or worried as we move forward?

 

I want to thank everyone who regularly reads and shares what we're doing here with Beer Branding Trends.

This newsletter (and podcast) have become a rewarding part of my job and I look forward to sitting down and tackling them each month.

I hope your brewery (or Bev Alc company) is all set for a solid summer. Let us know if CODO can help you with anything you've got on deck, and let's get out there and sell some beer.



Isaac
 

Around the Shop

(Re)Read CODO's 2022 Beer Branding Trends Review

Here's our annual Beer Branding Trends review, in case you missed it (or haven't had time to work through all 17,000 words yet).

Last chance to join us in St. Louis

Cody and I are hosting a workshop at the Craft Beer Professionals Connects conference in St. Louis on June 21.

Our talk is titled "A Roadmap for Extending Your Brewery’s Brand Beyond Beer.” But more importantly, this will be the first time we publicly share our new book and the brand architecture assessment tool we’ve spent 18+ months developing.

Space is limited. Sign up today. 

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)

Ready to learn more?

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.

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.

Want to work together?

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/answering-your-2022-beer-branding-trends-questions/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down to answer ten hard hitting questions from subscribers on this year’s Beer Branding Trends review.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. We’ll be releasing a hard seltzer later this summer as a brand extension under our brewery’s name. Is there any downside to branding it under our brewery’s brand and not as its own thing? We already have plans for future flavors, if that’s relevant.

2. I’m a long time newsletter subscriber and was surprised you didn’t include the hard seltzer shakeout idea in the annual review. Did something change between the time you wrote that email and the publishing of this article that makes you think that was an incorrect prediction?

3. What was your favorite [visual] trend this year?

4. We’re a small brewery in planning near Cleveland. We’re wondering if we should think about our brand architecture as part of this [foundational branding] process? We plan to eventually move into other categories (specifically a distillery), and weren’t sure if we needed to sort that out at this early stage?

5. Do you think non alcoholic beer is going to be a major category, something along the lines of 5% share at some point, or is this kind of new and shiny, along the lines of hard seltzer three years ago?

6. Do you have any thoughts on putting cans on the front of variety packs? (Here’s the Surly Brewing guest blog we referenced.)

7. What do you think about Voodoo Ranger’s new light lager? Do you think that will actually work? Voodoo Ranger is a dominant IPA brand and I wonder if this release could hurt New Belgium’s Voodoo Ranger strategy?

8. The “Dayparting” trend is interesting. Do you think there would be any issue with a brewery releasing a coffee brand or some sort of energy brand targeted for mornings?

9. Are there any trends that didn’t make the cut for this year’s review?

10. How do you feel about the craft beer industry as a whole? The last few years have been marked by several major reckonings on race and gender (specifically sexual harassment and assault), and of course Covid. Are you optimistic or worried as we move forward? (Here’s the Rabobank report we referenced on changing demographics.)

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/2022-beer-branding-trends-ama/
*|MC:SUBJECT|*
VOL. 017

CODO's 2022 Beer Branding Trends Review (+ Podcast) is out now

Morning, party people!

CODO Design's 2022 Beer Branding Trends review is out now. 

Clocking in at just over 17,000 words, this piece covers a wide range of topics that are shaping beer and beverage alcohol today (and tomorrow).

Click here to read the article

We'd also like to invite you to listen to a special BBT Podcast episode where Cody and I discuss the piece itself. 

Click here to listen to the companion podcast episode.

Keep reading if you're interested in having us answer your questions on this piece on an upcoming AMA podcast.

BBT subscribers get exclusive access to ask us questions about anything we cover in this article. Nothing's off limits.

Email those over by May 19 and we will field them on our next podcast episode.

***bonus points if you send a voice recorded message

 

Reinvention explores an industry in flux, including:

  • Rebrands
  • Packaging refreshes
  • The “Ball-out”
  • Formats in flux
  • Lifestyle brands
  • eCommerce

Beyond Beer examines:

  • Defining "Beyond beer" 
  • Growth opportunities 
  • “Dayparting”
  • Esoteric ingredients (#lifehacks)
  • Debits & credits 
  • Non-alcoholic beer & beverages 
  • Premium-izing hard seltzer 
  • Categorical differentiation opportunities for hard seltzer 
  • How can we “seltzer-ize” other categories

Brand Architecture outlines:

  • Parent brand considerations when going Beyond Beer
  • The “Accidental” hospitality group 
  • Style-forward vs. fanciful beer names 
  • Brand extensions vs Sub-brands 
  • Era of the craft beer platform?

We've identified 8 visual trends over the last year of field work, including:

  • Investing in Illustration
  • “Minimal Plus”
  • 60’s Vintage Revival
  • Monoline
  • Skulls
  • Custom Dielines
  • Interactive Packaging 
  • Co-branded Stunt Beverages 

This year, we’re joined by fourteen industry experts spanning brewery founders, CEOs, distributors, marketing directors, industry consultants, writers, retailers, strategists and economists. We’ve given each person a few specific questions to add more context to everything we’ve discussed to this point. These experts include:

REINVENTION

  • Jeff Alworth (Beervana)
  • Tara Nurin (Eyes on the World)
  • Julie Rhodes (Not Your Hobby Marketing)
  • Paige Sopcic (CanSource)
  • Jim Watson (Rabobank)
  • Bump Williams (The BWC Company)

BEYOND BEER

  • Mark Gallo (Nor-Cal Beverage)
  • Jess Infante (Brewbound)
  • Eddie Sahm (Sahm Hospitality Group)
  • Bart Watson (Brewers Association)

BRAND ARCHITECTURE 

  • Andrew Emerton (New Belgium Brewing)
  • Joel Hueston (First Key Consulting)
  • Matthew McLaughlin (McLaughlin PC + Fertile Ground Beer Co.)
  • Mandie Murphy (Left Field Brewery)

 

Cody and I recorded a podcast that dives deeper into this year's trends roundup. This is a great conversation for those brewery or Bev Alc companies looking for incremental growth and future brand building opportunities. 

Give this a listen while gardening, roller blading to the farmers' market, lifting weights and crushing beers, pretending to work, mowing the lawn brewing and/or marketing beer.

Ready to learn more?

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.

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.

Want to work together?

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/2022-beer-branding-trends-is-out-now/

Episode Summary

Cody and Isaac sit down and discuss everything covered in this year’s Beer Branding Trends review.

Episode Notes

Points of discussion:

1. Read the piece here.

2. Join the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter to ask questions for our next podcast

3. Reinvention (rebrands, refreshes, packaging formats in flux, SKU rationalization, a shift back to bottles?)

4. Why are lifestyle brands a smart play right now? (Also, what is a lifestyle brand?)

5. eCommerce (the real adventure was in the consumer data we gathered along the way)

6. Beyond Beer (yet another plug for our book that we’ve been talking about for two years. is it even real?)

7. CODO with the hot takes!

8. Day parting (how can breweries open up new morning, afternoon and evening occasions?)

9. Cody is all in on nootropics, mushroom coffee and cocaine. (is there anything more functional than cocaine?)

10. Revisiting the Law of Category

11. Some thoughts on seltzer (going premium, categorical differentiation, seltzer-izing other categories)

12. Brand Architecture

13. The accidental hospitality group

14. Fanciful names vs. monolithic brand-forward names

15. Package design trends + expert opinions

Read the 2022 Beer Branding Trends Review here.

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/2022-beer-branding-trends-overview/
*|MC:SUBJECT|*
VOL. 016

What is a Lifestyle Brand?

Pinning down a proper definition for what constitutes a lifestyle brand is challenging. It has to be part aspirational (i.e. by supporting this brand, you are embodying the values of some desired lifestyle). It has to be hype-worthy (otherwise, people won’t line up to get it and brag when they finally do). But most importantly, it has to tap directly into a subculture.

All of this begs the question—what role does branding play in lifestyle positioning?

Even more than any other non-lifestyle brand, I think the most telling feature is that the brand goes out of its way to embody a particular set of values so that the consumer can, by purchasing and interacting with the brand, signal that they too share those values.

Lifestyle branding allows your customers to signal in-group identification. In other words, I’m one of you guys. I’m cool too. 

All brands inherently have values, but for a lifestyle brand, the values that the brand embodies are as important as the product for sale itself because it allows the consumer to find belonging.

The thing you actually purchase is secondary to this end.

We’ve been trying to delineate between regular old brands and lifestyle brands for a few years and have determined that you just kind of know one when you see it.

To wit, your average brewery probably isn’t a lifestyle brand (no matter how much cool merch they pump out). But if that local brewery targets a niche demographic that centers around a specific activity, interest, locale or ethos, then they may be headed in that direction.

We receive several inquiries from breweries in planning each year who want to make a lifestyle positioning play out of the gate. And with an ever increasingly competitive landscape, we think this can be a smart move.

Here are a few prominent examples of well executed lifestyle brands:

If you’re a hipster cool, urban young professional, you drink PBR. Or increasingly, Hamm’s. 

If you’re a skater / metal head who cares about the environment (and maybe sobriety?), you drink Liquid Death

If you’re all about that Montana lifestyle, you shotgun Montucky Cold Snacks.

If you enjoy shooting guns, owning every lib in sight and drinking coffee, then there's Black Rifle Coffee. 

If you want to signal that you're health conscious and conspicuously wealthy, you can plant your precious cheeks astride a Peloton

If you want to signal that you’re outdoorsy, and only buy high quality adventure equipment that's as durable as you are, then you grab a YETI Cooler.

Is your brand tattoo worthy? Related: I can't go to the pool anymore because all the Zoomers make fun of my Dasani back piece.  



A few observations about successful lifestyle brands

1. This isn’t always the case, but lifestyle brands tend to be digitally native to start (no brick and mortar location). For product brands (Pit Viper, Chubbie’s, Duke Cannon), this means you’re built primarily through digital ads and well-curated Instagram and TikTok channels. For breweries, this means you’re probably contract brewed. 

2. They target a niche subculture exclusively. You need to speak your audience’s language (usually through memes) and values (through actions and charity support). And twirl on the haters ignore all outsiders—your group is the only one that matters. After all, not everyone can be your audience.

But paradoxically, it seems like lifestyle brands end up gaining more press and following the more narrowly they focus on their audience and sub culture. (This is likely due to a loud, overly-ardent fan base as much as it is brilliant marketing. Or that they just stand out from a sea of undifferentiated competitors.)

3. They create branded content and make it so compelling that people will watch hours of it despite knowing that they’re being advertised to. (e.g. YETI Presents or Meat Church).

4. They often use influencer marketing (or “Brand Ambassadors”) as a corner stone for scaling. This can be through social media, podcasts, even television and movies—wherever your audience consumes content. (still waiting on my phone call, Dasani…)

5. They use merchandise to foster in-group identification. They give people the tools they need to signal that they’re on board (and drive major revenue along the way).

6. They meet their people where they are. Field activation is key to making this all work. You need to be wherever your fans are—music venues, bars, tattoo parlors, barbershops, skate shops, conventions, sport venues, festivals, libraries, marathons, ski slopes, etc.

I think lifestyle brands will become an increasingly common strategy for launching new Bev Alc brands over the next several years. The ability to start lean and create something that speaks directly to a well-defined, ardent audience may be a safer bet than opening yet another taproom in a city full of taprooms.

Latest Resources

Great conversation with Montucky Cold Snacks on how to build a Lifestyle Brand

Digitally native. Contract Brewed. Lean startup. Niche audience. Heavy on merch… Montucky Cold Snacks is a great example of how successful a lifestyle beer brand can be.

Read our conversation with Montucky co-founder, Jeremy Gregory, for specifics on how they achieved this positioning.

Portfolio strategy and beer pricing with Bump Williams 

We had a great conversation with the Bump Williams Consulting crew on all things beer pricing and portfolio strategy. Breweries of any size should give this a read and follow what their team is doing.

Come shotgun beers with us in St. Louis at the CBP Connects Conference

Cody and I are excited to announce that we’ll be hosting a workshop at the Craft Beer Professionals Connects conference in St. Louis on June 21.

Our talk is titled "A Roadmap for Extending Your Brewery’s Brand Beyond Beer.” But more importantly, this will be the first time we publicly share our new book and the brand architecture assessment tool we’ve spent 18+ months developing. (attendees may even get to see/fondle/read a printed book, if a series of stars align in time). 

Space is limited. Sign up today. 

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)

Ready to learn more?

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.

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.

Want to work together?

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/what-is-a-lifestyle-brand/
*|MC:SUBJECT|*
VOL. 015

How to Future Proof Your Brand (or, What Makes a Brand Timeless?)

I spoke with a kombucha startup last month about handling their foundational branding, packaging and website. During our conversation, one of the founders asked the question, "Can we brand ourselves really well now so we never have to rebrand? How can we create something timeless like Starbucks or Budweiser?" 

I mentioned that we could definitely create something timeless. All it would take is 30+ years of consistent purpose and identity, a clear point of view and hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising. Easy. Peasy.  

Seriously though, what makes a brand timeless?

Is this all subjective (you'll know one when you see it) or are there clear traits that you can use to concretely identify such a brand? And if there are such quantitative elements, how can we reverse engineer and encode them into a branding project today, so that a company can, in a way, get their branding done "really well" the first time and become timeless?

Truly iconic brands don't need words or colors to be understood. You don't have to speak English—or even be able to read to understand and recognize them. 



Let's look at a handful of brands generally considered timeless—Nike, Apple, Starbucks, Harley Davidson, Rolex. All have a few shared traits.  

The first is that they all have a compelling point of view and broad cultural relevance. These companies all provide a genuine human need that will be as relevant one hundred years from now as it is today. 

Second, these companies are all brand-led. The brand and messaging drives every aspect of the business. Because they're brand-led (and because of their household name and ability to shape culture), they tend to have uber simplified, iconic marks. They generally own a distinctive color and usually don't even need typography to be recognized—just a simple icon. 

Third, timeless brands are flexible. When you look at the technological advances we've made over the last thirty years—internet, smart phones, social media, life extending healthcare, near instantaneous everything—you realize that this is civilization-shaping stuff. We take for granted just how far we’ve come since, say the 1950's. 

And through all of these advances, and whatever comes next, timeless brands find a way to remain relevant no matter what broader cultural trends emerge. Doomed brands are myopic. Timeless brands are always future facing. 

Let's take a closer look at each of these points and then wrap up with how your brewery / distillery / cannabis company / seltzer / kombucha / CPG food and bev company can build a brand that ages gracefully.


1: Timeless brands have a compelling point of view and immutable cultural relevance

The single most important element to becoming a timeless brand is to have a compelling point of view and broad cultural relevance. You have to have a compelling story and reason for existing. 

To be timeless, your brand has to touch on an immutable human need. Something that won't ebb and flow with seasons and consumer trends.

What dragon are you slaying? The tide of corporate computers built for accountants (Apple)? Or maybe you're conjuring your inner athlete in an attempt to defeat your secret desire to sit on the couch and drink beer all day (Nike)? Or maybe you just need a talisman to signal how successful you are (Rolex)?

2: Timeless brands are design-led

To the doomed company, design and branding are an afterthought. They're something you bring in at the end of a project to gussy up whatever product your launching. For the timeless brand, the entire company is brand-led and embraces design at all levels.

There is no more clear design language in the world than Apple. Sleek, contemporary, minimalist—stunning. It's instantly recognizable and endlessly imitated. This philosophy is famously imbued at every level of the company. To wit: Steve Jobs famously discussed Apple’s philosophy through a carpentry metaphor. “When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You'll know it's there, so you're going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back.”

On the external facing level—brand identity, packaging and messaging—this manifests as simple, clear, iconic branding. 

Though be forewarned that this process usually takes decades to attain (and is never really complete). Consumers need to understand who you are, what you stand for, and what role you play in their life before you can start shortening brand names, iconography and other visual language. 

There's no shortcut here, though there are some important visual traits we can borrow during a foundational branding or rebranding process. (we'll outline these at the bottom of this piece).

Simple, bold, iconic marks will age gracefully. 



 

3: Timeless brands bend, but don't break.

Timeless brands understand that visual styling and aesthetics can shift overtime to stay relevant, but that their core reason for existing will always remain steadfast. Aesthetics matter, but your storytelling and core promises matter more. 

Timeless brands understand that marketing and advertising are ephemeral, and thus, can be trendier, if not outright disposable. This allows you to speak to current day customers without abandoning your core positioning. 

This insight be the most actionable thing we've discussed today in regards to our kombucha startup friends who want to create a timeless brand. 

Your core identity should be as simple as possible. You can dress up packaging and other marketing touch points, but those things will naturally change over time to keep up with industry and consumer-led shifts. Your identity, as long as it represents an important human need and value prop and promise—all the important brand DNA stuff—should remain somewhat intact through future updates.
 

Let's recap with some actionable takeaway.

 

1. What immutable human need do you offer? 

Can a canned cocktail brand become timeless? Well, that depends on what immutable human need you provide. 

Are you an interchangeable budget option or are you something more? A splurge? Or maybe just the ability for someone to host an intimate party with their friends without stressing over how to make the perfect Manhattan.

What occasion do you want to own and how can you ensure that this will be as relevant 20 years from now as it is today?
 

2. Get your aesthetic house in order 

How can we build a timeless brand from the ground up? How can we design a brand identity so that it will stand the test of time? Today's timeless brands all have the following traits: 

– A simple, iconic mark (that can eventually speak without words or text)

– An ownable (in your vertical), limited color palette

– A clear visual language (messaging and voice, visual vocabulary and iconography) 

 

3. Understand that you will have to update your peripheral branding elements along the way. 

Staying up to date on broader cultural trends are crucial to staying relevant. But this influence should live in your peripherals—packaging, website, merch, social media marketing. 

Your core identity, your logo itself, should be as simple and iconic as possible out of the gate so that it remains a constant throughout all your future evolutions.

Latest Resources

Thoughts on Modular Identity Systems

Let's throw it way back and read chapter 12 from our first book, the Craft Beer Branding Guide.

This outlines the nuts and bolts of putting a brand identity system together as well as other reasons why you should build your identity out this way (easy merchandising, opportunities for way showing, maintaining consistency without being boring, etc.)

#CODOreads

That Shit Will Never Sell by David Gluckman is a collection of stories about developing some of the most iconic beverage brands of the last 50 years.

The Baileys Irish cream origin story is fun, but David's work with Guinness, including a few failed line extensions, is just as relevant for today's brewer as it was in the early 1970’s. 

There are a lot of valuable nuggets in here for brand builders, but I’d say this is a must read for anyone working in product development or innovation. 

Time Traveling with the Beer Can Archaeologist

Minimalism, maximalism, typography-driven, bifurcation, patterning, scrolls, seals, ribbons, different size formats, label violators, spurious claims, funny lines—it’s ALL been done before. 

Almost everything in contemporary beer packaging echoes the past in some way, even if the designer has no idea they are doing it. There’s a canon to beer packaging that finds its foundations in the earliest days of can manufacturing.

Read this piece to see what makes these elements so irresistible to designers timeless.

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)

Ready to learn more?

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.

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.

Want to work together?

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/how-to-future-proof-your-brand/
*|MC:SUBJECT|*
VOL. 014

What do you mean when you say "Brand Equity?"

We're currently working through a brand audit as part of a brewery rebranding project. This will be a sweeping rebrand, including developing a new name, positioning and full identity and packaging reset.

The brewery team is adamant that their packaging has loads of "Brand Equity" and that the color blocking and illustration style are both necessary to retain through this process.

This brings up two interesting thoughts I'd like to explore today. 

The first is Evolution vs. Revolution as it relates to defining Brand Equity. The second is Brand Equity vs. Visual Equity. 

 

Evolution vs. Revolution (vs. Brand Equity)

Let's start with the idea of having loads of equity when you're completely wiping the slate clean during a rebrand.

The obvious question, and one that spurred a great conversation with our brewery partner, is why are we hanging on to equity, any equity, when we're purposely moving away from all the things—the story, positioning and perception—that this equity evokes in the first place?

This is like losing 100 pounds and still wearing the same size 52 jeans. 

Whenever we rebrand a brewery, we bring everything back to strategy. What issues are we trying to resolve? What story are we trying to tell? How are we aiming to (re)position your brewery? 

And "Evolution vs. Revolution" is a helpful heuristic here. If you've determined that a refresh is in order, then any positive equity may be more important to retain since any forthcoming changes could end being more subtle and in line with your current aesthetics. 

If you're rebranding (updating your positioning, messaging, brand essence, identity, packaging and certainly when developing a new name) then your equity might not be as important because you're changing the narrative in a more profound way.

Brand Equity vs. Visual Equity 

This may seem overly semantic, but there are actually two types of equity to measure and evaluate during a rebrand (*aggressively pushes glasses up nose). Brand Equity and Visual Equity. 

We've found that most people use “Brand Equity” as a catchall phrase to mean any type of positive "thing" to keep during a rebrand. (I'm guilty of this from time to time as well. It's okay.)

This can include deep messaging, positioning and business model considerations (e.g. Does it make sense to launch X market this Spring?) as well as more surface level Trade Dress stuff (e.g. we need to keep this green Pantone because we've always used it). 

At first blush, it may not seem like this matters, but conflating these ideas can have important downstream messaging effects if not clearly defined.

Prost Brewing had zero Visual Equity to carry forward through their rebrand. This allowed for a more profound break from their previous identity and packaging.



What is Brand Equity?

Brand Equity is the total amount of goodwill your brand has with its customers. This is more Brand-level stuff focused on your messaging, positioning, values, value props, personality and key communication pillars. How do people talk about your brewery? What role do you play in your community? 

Like your brand itself, these connotations, associations and stories live inside your customers’ minds. These things inform your visual identity and packaging, but are upstream of them.


What is Visual Equity?

Visual Equity are all the cues that, if lost through a rebrand, could set you back in the off-premise (e.g. people may not be able to easily find your iconic packaging because you’ve changed it too drastically. This would include things like SKU-specific colors that you've used forever, unique packaging compositions, custom typography and other iconography.

1. Dogfish Head has revamped its packaging several times over the years. One constant through all of these refreshes has been its iconic shark shield and custom typography. These are great examples of sacrosanct Visual Equity.

2. Packaging format can also be a form of Visual Equity. I'm surprised it took Topo Chico this long to launch its hard seltzer in their iconic bottle. 




To bring this back to our new brewery client and the Evolution vs. Revolution idea, when you are going the Revolution route—completely shifting positioning and messaging and brand essence and tone of voice and aesthetics—then you should focus more on identifying whether there is any Brand Equity worth salvaging.

In these cases, and in our client’s case in particular, if you're shifting what your brewery stands for at a foundational level, then there may not be much utility in retaining some of the visual trappings you're historically known for because they will only serve to evoke that old story. 

If your current positioning and messaging are good to go and you are after a fresh look (Evolution) to help you better billboard on shelf or bring consistency to your entire portfolio, then the more surface level aesthetics, your Visual Equity, are exactly what you should be focusing on.

Actionable Takeaway

A brand audit is the first step in weighing your brand equity. Read about this in Craft Beer, Rebranded and download the CBR Workbook if you'd like a specific checklist to guide the process.

Latest Resources

Henderson Brewing Brand Refresh

We're proud to finally share our brand refresh work with Toronto's Henderson Brewing. Here’s a behind the scenes look at the process, including the final identity and packaging (& rejected concepts!).

Talking Shop with Against the Grain

We had a great conversation with Against the Grain co-founder Sam Cruz on the importance of knowing your audience, giving your community what it wants and sticking to your guns.

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)

Ready to learn more?

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.

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.

Want to work together?

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/what-is-brand-equity-really/
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VOL. 013

"What do most beverage startups get wrong?"

Cody and I spoke at the American Craft Spirits Association’s national conference last month. It was fun getting in front of a real crowd again—this was our first time in front of a non-webinar audience in almost 2 years (a hardy welcome to the ~20 new subscribers from that talk, by the way). 

During one of our Q&A breaks, an audience member asked us what common mistakes we see beverage startups make

There are plenty of things we could’ve cited here—something as upstream as working through market research and defining your audience. Or, maybe even dialing in your finances (turns out, COGs matter. Who knew?). 

But I decided to stay in my (branding and strategy) lane and mention that we rarely see a beverage startup that properly frames its brand values. 

And that's a shame, because of all the things a brewery or Bev-Alc company can do as it comes to market, or repositions through a rebrand, truthfully defining your brand values is one of the most important exercises you can do for the long term health of your company.  

Cody and I recorded a podcast episode on this topic late last year, and I’d like to revisit it now in case you might be planning a new venture (or a rebrand) this year. 



CODO has worked with more than 65 breweries across the States and around the world. And we've spoken with several hundred more through the course of building our practice. And in these conversations, we hear the same tropes come up over and over and over again when discussing values.  

“Our core value is definitely quality. We're going to make the highest quality beer possible with the highest quality ingredients…"

You hear similar refrains about integrity and community and service and “being" local.

We used to ask a brewery about its values, hear these sorts of things, and move on without giving it much more thought.

But in learning more about our own small business, and working with several breweries and hospitality groups that actually use their values as a touchstone for the day-to-day runnings of their business, we now spend more time challenging our client partners on this front.

Let's take a closer look at values so you can frame them correctly, whether you're reinventing a legacy brand or coming to market for the first time. 


What are brand values? 

Your brand values are the immutable code that governs how you run your business. They are manifested through your actions and behaviors, particularly when no one’s looking. What do you stand for? Why do you brew beer the way you do? What are the non-negotiables for your business? Why do you exist?


Why frame your values? 

It’s important to define your brand values because they directly influence your positioning, storytelling, strategic messaging and brand essence. They inspire your internal team, attract the best industry talent and get customers excited to support your brewery (we all want to support companies whose values align with our own).

While we're here, I want to turn you all on to a phenomenal book that shaped how CODO thinks about brand values. 

The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni, outlines three different types of values—Aspirational Values, Core Values and Permission-to-play values. 


Let's explore each of these:


1. Core Values

These are the driving principles behind your business. They guide all decisions and shape your culture at all levels.

The most important pressure test here is that you should be able to truthfully claim to live by this value more than 99% of your competition.

If you can't make that claim, then this is likely a Permission-to-play value. 
 

2. Permission-to-play (PtP) Values 

PtP Values cover the table stakes stuff we outlined above—quality, integrity, craft, community, etc. This is a helpful tier to use as you frame your values because these things are important (yes, you should strive to make the best beer possible. The problem is that this doesn't help to differentiate your brewery). 

PtP gives you a bucket in which to throw these values so that they’re not deleted entirely. Again, these are important—maybe not Core Value important—but this tier gives these ideas a place to live within your business strategy. 

If I can be real with you here, Cody and I are guilty of falling into this trap ourselves. For the first decade of our business, we've proudly claimed that "Craft" is one of CODO’s core values—that we'll go just as hard on a 2k project as we will a 200k project (we always have and always will, by the way).  

The problem is that there are innumerable design firms out there that don't live up to this standard (they’re more worried about hourly billing, or hitting a certain margin, or winning some meaningless award, for example). Yet they still claim that Craft is one of their Core Values every bit as much as we do.

As frustrating as this is, this bumps Craft from Core Value status to Permission-to-Play for us. (and that's okay)
 

3. Aspirational Values 

These are the values that you don't quite live by yet, but that you aspire to reach on a daily basis. This is powerful because it can just as easily shape your day-to-day business decisions as your Core Values themselves.

And if you do it right, these Aspirational Values can become core values over time.

Aspirational Values are my favorite takeaway from The Advantage
because in practice, they operate exactly like a core value. If you aspire to invest more money in your local community, then you will put in place systems and rules to do so when you're able. If you aspire to be more organized as a company, then you will actively think about building SOPs and other systems to achieve that goal.

And if you do this long enough, that Aspirational Value might just become a Core Value. 





If you've never framed your brewery's values, now is the time. Kick off 2022 by investing in your business. 

And if you have framed your values, try pressure testing them against this rubric to see if they hold up. 

Happy New Year! We'll see you next month.

Actionable Takeaways

1. Don’t breeze through your brand values definition process. It took Cody and I about a month of off and on focus to get ours to a place we felt was accurate. Get this right and it will pay dividends down the line. 

2. Can you claim to live by a value more than 99% of your competition? If not, think about whether this might actually be a Permission-to-play value.

3. Here's a chapter from Craft Beer, Rebranded for more on this topic.

Around the shop

How to sell more beer on Drizly 

We sat down with Jay Sobel at Drizly to discuss eCommerce best practices, portfolio management and easy (actionable) ways your brewery can increase beer sales on the "Fourth Tier" today.

There are a lot of simple, actionable and high leverage ideas in here. 

Submit Questions for Podcast Q&A Episodes

We've received more than a dozen questions from you all since starting our podcast and have been saving them for a future Q&A episode. The questions have been great, so I figured we should give you a more formal call to action here.

If you have any questions or topics you'd like us to discuss on the Beer Branding Trends Podcast, shoot us an email and we'll add it to the list. And thanks for listening!

How to Organize Your Internal Team Ahead of a Rebrand (Podcast)

Thinking about a rebrand this year? Identity, packaging, positioning, voice and values—there are a lot of moving parts here. 

Organizing your internal team (and all stakeholders) is a critical step you might be overlooking if you're early in the planning process.

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)

Ready to learn more?

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.

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.

Want to work together?

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/what-do-most-beverage-startups-get-wrong/
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VOL. 012

The Warm Blanket of Nostalgic Branding

I lost my grandfather to cancer a few years ago. 

And one of the last conversations he and I had has stuck with me, popping into my head at random every few weeks. I asked him if he felt like the world had gotten better or worse in his lifetime (all 87 years of it). And he unequivocally answered that it had gotten worse. 

I asked him to explain, expecting—maybe projecting?—him to talk about how our country seems more divided than ever. Or how social media and corporate news have come to dominate our lives. Or how we’ve all come to live in a throw away culture. 

But he didn’t talk about any of that, or anything negative. Instead, he talked about how great things used to be.

He talked about his Navy years and when he met my grandma. He talked about when he was a young father like me (completely overwhelmed but loving every minute of it). He talked about how lucky he was to have his family.  

You could chalk his answers up as someone who knows they’re nearing the end of the line. Someone with more time and experiences behind them than ahead.

But I actually feel nostalgic for the past myself (and I'm hoping to have quite a few years ahead). 

When you have a child, you blink, and suddenly find yourself celebrating a third or a fourth birthday. You were changing their diapers just yesterday and now they're reading chapter books (nearly) on their own. 

And the damndest thing is you can't even remember what life was like before you met them. 

As a father of two young daughters, I’m watching them grow and learn and experience new things every day. And I’ve had a lot of fun introducing them to the things that I enjoyed when I was a kid—camping, fishing, Goosebumps, Ghostbusters, Legos. (I’ll wait until they’re at least ten before introducing them to candy cigarettes and Schwarzenegger movies.)

If we can switch gears for a moment—away from this meandering story about my grandpa—let’s talk about why nostalgic branding is so compelling. Why is referencing the past such a surefire way to grab someone’s attention (and for our purposes here, get them to buy your beer)?

At a surface level, nostalgic branding—or, “debranding” as some in the design press are calling it—works because you’re evoking an emotional response. You're getting someone to think about something positive from the past in the hopes that they come to associate your brand with that fuzzy, warm feeling. 

Nostalgic branding promises happy memories, connections and emotions.

In this context, I’m not buying Hamm’s this weekend because I like the beer. I’m buying Hamm’s because it’s what my grandpa drank (and it’s what I snuck from his garage fridge every summer as a kid). I'm not buying beer, I’m buying an opportunity to hold a tangible artifact that reminds me of someone I love. 



Nostalgia grounds a brand in a sense of history, authenticity and provenance. It harkens back to a time when things seemed to be a little bit better, where deals were done on a handshake and good breaks came easier. 

If you want to go back in time a bit, we wrote about this trend in detail back in our 2020 beer branding trends piece, calling it Nostalgic Regional.

Now whether or not the past was actually better doesn’t really matter here. We know that the past wasn’t perfect (in fact is was pretty terrible for an enormous swath of people). But in that moment where you're interacting with something that looks nostalgic, you're not thinking about the bad stuff. 

You're not thinking about your children growing up too fast.

And you're not thinking about your grandpa shrinking away in a hospital bed. 

In that moment, drinking that beer, you're thinking about the good times—the happy memories that have shaped your life and how you carry yourself in the world today. 



I don't have anything actionable to end on here. I just wanted to tell you a story about my grandpa because I've been thinking about him a lot over the last few weeks.

I hope you have a great Christmas (and drink loads of great beer).

Let’s come back well rested in 2022 and burn the ships, shall we?

Latest Resources

Latest Podcast Episodes on Positioning & Core Values

Beer Branding Trends Podcast episodes 3 & 4 are out and have seen a great response.

These are foundational brand strategy episodes—give them a listen if you're a brewery in planning. And if you're already out in the market, consider them a refresher.

Here are direct links to the show on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. (be sure to subscribe if you like what we're doing on this front)

Business of Beverages Podcast

This is the first time I've been invited on to a podcast that I was already listening to. And it didn't disappoint. 

Will and Foxy were a lot of fun and we got to go deeper than the typical "your brand isn't your logo" trope that gets trotted out in these sorts of settings. Instead, we explored why brand values and brand architecture are so important for today's brewers.

CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective

In-House with CANarchy

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)

Ready to learn more?

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.

If you’re enjoying the Beer Branding Trends Newsletter, we’d love if you shared it with a friend or two.

Please send them here to sign up.

Want to work together?

https://beerbrandingtrends.com/the-warm-blanket-of-nostalgic-branding/
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logo.png VOL. 011

How many brand extensions are too many?

 

Brand strategists, Jack Trout and Al Ries, are staunchly anti-extension. And they particularly harp on line extensions (that is, adding another variant to the same brand—e.g. Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA > Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze)—a much lighter touch exercise than an actual brand extension (using your brewery’s brand in an entirely different category—e.g. Dogfish Head Distilling, Corona Hard Seltzer, Big Lug Cocktails).

Let’s examine their rationale before diving into CODO’s thinking. 

People tend to categorize and remember only a few brand names for any given category. There’s just too much noise, and advertising and chaff constantly coming our way to remember any more than that (name 10 shampoo brands, go!).

The goal of positioning is to occupy one of those coveted slots in people’s minds—to become the de facto brand someone thinks about when they need to buy something. 

I want a luxury watch” = Rolex. 

I want a bombproof cooler” = Yeti. 

I want to read a horror novel” = Stephen King. 

The problem with extensions, as Ries and Trout outlined, is that anything you release that doesn’t align with that core positioning (e.g. a $500 Rolex that anyone could afford) dramatically dilutes the parent brand’s positioning and reputation. 

Bud Light Seltzer’s recent campaign is a fun, if not perfect illustration of this entire thesis.

Bud Light Seltzer Commercial

Brand strategists and marketers know about these issues, yet high profile brand extensions still roll out every single day. 

Why is this?

We’ve helped dozens of breweries position, brand and launch extensions. So we can say with first hand experience that when you have a great selling brand, the pressure to extend it can be immense. Retailers, distributors, consultants, trade media, internal team members and even your fans can clamor for it.  

Add in a dash of FOMO from watching your competition grabbing headlines with their extensions and this pressure can be so intense that it may seem imprudent to not throw your concerns and intuition out the window on this matter.

Budweiser Brand Extensions
Look how they massacred my boy.

For those keeping score, Bud Light Seltzer Hard Soda would be a Brand Extension of a Brand Extension of a Line Extension. It's extensions all the way down.


Where does CODO fall on this issue?

For as much as we harp on the importance of positioning, we're not as stalwartly anti-line (or brand) extension as you might think. Yes, we're always cautious about the impact a new product can have on an overarching brand (and have, more than once, been a dissenting voice in strategy meetings).

But we also think that Trout and Ries’ line of thinking is more applicable to the zero sum world of international conglomerate brands who can genuinely vie for that first or second “slot” in consumers’ minds more so than a localized industry like craft beer (where a major driving force behind craft's growth has always been diversity and brand promiscuity itself).

This idea coupled with fragmenting consumer tastes (beer > seltzer > kombucha > RTDs > Lo&No…), generational shifts (Gen Z becoming a buying force) and the still-not-yet-entirely-realized impact that the DTC trend will have on the industry, leads us to believe that a few well conceived extensions can actually enhance a brewery’s overall brand and portfolio by offering options that their fans are already buying from someone else. 

The hang up is that the extension has to make sense. You can’t leverage your parent brand into another category just because it’s well known. And you shouldn't line extend just to make a quick buck either.

There has to be an intuitive link between your parent brand and the extension. The extension should not only build its own brand, but reinforce the parent brand's story and values and good will as well. 

Can a popular brewery make a great RTD cocktail? Sure, maybe. Can that same brewery make a great frozen lasagna meal?

Colgate Frozen Lasagna

If you’re dead set on launching a brand extension, here are a few quick guidelines to keep you from having to later cut a commercial to directly address how confusing it is that your brewery’s name is also on a hard seltzer can for some reason. 


Less is more

One or two extensions can work well if the subsequent releases reinforce the parent brand's positioning and value props (Blue Moon > Blue Moon Light Sky is a great example here because it brings a seasonal flair to the mix). More than one or two and you stand the risk of making the entire lineup too convoluted for your fans to follow, particularly if you start layering in line extensions on top of those brand extensions. (peep that Budweiser extension-mania image above for reference. "yeah, gimme a Bud Light… Lemonade Seltzer Soda, please?")


How to avoid this issue altogether 

If you’ve determined that a brand extension does not make sense, this doesn’t mean you can’t launch the product. It just means you have to explore another brand architecture strategy for bringing it to market—e.g. a subtly-endorsed brand, some sort of shadow endorsement or even a standalone brand if you have the capacity to properly manage it.  


The most important question

Does this new product naturally align with your parent brand’s values and value props? Is this something your brewery would launch? Does it make sense at a gut level? 

If there’s any doubt, then you need to be extremely careful with putting your brewery’s name on that product. Yes, you could possibly see a short term bump in sales by leveraging your parent brand’s equity of the gate, but it likely won’t last beyond the honey moon phase. And it could end up doing far more damage to your positioning in the long run.

Key Takeaways


1. Your brand and positioning need to be protected at all costs. Anything that confuses or dilutes them is detrimental to the cause. 

2. You have to think in terms of decades when building a brand. Don’t make a shortsighted decision in pursuit of a profitable quarter. Think about how an extension could help, or harm, your overall brand down the line.

 

Rewatch our Brand Architecture Presentation


Four Strategies for Extending Your Brewery's Brand Beyond Beer


 
Cody and I had a fun time talking about Brand Architecture at the Craft Beer Professionals Fall Virtual Conference. This is a sneak peek at the new book we've been working on for the last year and a half (and directly related to the issues topic). 

If you're thinking about lunching some sort of extension (seltzer, RTD, etc.), you should give this a watch to make sure you're making sound brand strategy decisions along the way. 

Latest Resources

The Beer Branding Trends Podcast is live!


 
We're 2 episodes in and have been humbled by the reception—over 1k downloads already (crazy!). If you haven't already, catch up on episodes 1 and 2 and let us know what you think.

In-House with Sierra Nevada


 
We had the privilege of sitting down with Sierra Nevada's Advertising and Creative Manager, Conor McMahon, to discuss Pale Ale, brand extensions and how a legacy brewery can stay relevant in 2021.

Australia Craft Beer Podcast 


 

We enjoyed a wide-sweeping conversation about beer branding and Australian craft beer with Matt Kirkegaard of Radio Brew News a few weeks back.

 

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. 

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

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https://beerbrandingtrends.com/how-far-can-you-extend-a-brand/