Storytelling allows independent breweries to gain an edge over much larger competitors by tapping into local pride. People are beginning to look behind the curtain to learn how the products they purchase are created, which gives indie breweries a huge opportunity to enter the market and gain mind share that the conglomerate breweries just don’t have access to – Local authenticity.
By using storytelling, you can:
- Demonstrate what makes you unique.
- Build warm, close, loyal relationships with customers.
- Become “their” brewery.
So, stick around. We’ve gathered together some beautiful examples from various breweries who do a mighty fine job of telling their stories throughout their online presence.
Setting the Stage
When telling your story, focus on communicating the following:
History – Where did you come from?
You can probably see that Deschutes Brewery relies heavily upon their Bend, Oregon locale to tell their story. Their logo takes direct inspiration from the local scenery.
Personality – How do the people in your brewery write, speak, act? How does it reflect your brewery’s culture and message?
Based in Boston, employee owned, Harpoon Brewery shows off their regional pride while enjoying a Celtics game.
Motivation – What drives your people to get up in the morning and create, share and get excited about your amazing beer?
Abita Brewery makes it clear they are motivated to share and celebrate Louisiana culture.
Audience – Who is your beer FOR? Never forget: your customers are part of your story, too, and they must take center stage.
Russian River appeals to an erudite, sophisticated crowd with a specific sense of humor. Otherwise, they’d never name a beer “Defenestration*,” or bother to explain they learned the word while visiting Prague Castle.
*Defenestration means: “to literally fling someone out of a window,” if you’re curious.
It’s not just about the beer. It’s about how you got here.
Travel and Adventure
Where is your brand going?
Where’s Woody? Deschutes Brewery invites you to find out. People know something’s happening when they see the Deschutes truck hauling a giant wooden beer keg through the street. This ingenious strategy gets people to Deschutes events…and gives them a great reason to follow the brand on Instagram and Twitter.
Acts of Heroism
Things happen in stories, and heroes work to make the world a better place. What is your brewery doing to help others?
Huge thanks to @oskarbluesatx’s production team for kicking it into high gear and canning 16,800 cans of water when #LouisianaFlood victims need it. Despite a long and difficult drive (flood waters are still high), the water arrived yesterday at the RedCross in Madisonville, LA.
#clean water #disasterrelief #Louisiana
Oskar Blues Brewery in Austin seen above packaging water for victims of flooding in Louisiana.
Great storytellers know they must evoke an emotion to make a compelling case. Ask yourself: how do I want people to feel about my brewery and brand?
Choices could include:
Regional pride – Deschutes Brewery is all about Oregon Pride. Many of their beers are named after local landmarks and their packaging clearly reflects that.
Or, the comfort that comes from observing shared ideas, backgrounds, and/or traditions. Fireman’s brew taps into the loyalty of firefighters and those who love them.
Or, maybe even a sense of wicked or light-hearted fun. We all know the story of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard…
Once you’ve chosen a mood…stick to it! Just make sure the mood arises from internal forces (your brewery’s actual assets and personality) rather than external forces, like what you believe will be popular or appreciated. If the mood of your brand doesn’t resonate with the people running the brewery then people will sense the incongruity and will go elsewhere. Today’s customer is in search of an authentic experience delivered by authentic people.
Creating a Show Stopper
Your website isn’t the only place where you need to tell your story. You should, in fact, drop tantalizing sneak previews whenever and wherever you get the chance. Here are some places you can do that.
Logos – Distinctive, consistently used and displayed.
@Regrann from @taproombkk – Meet the devil!! Heretic Tap Takeover at Taproom Sukhumvit 26. Experience 11 beers from @hereticbrewing and get a chance to win T-shirt, Shaker glass or bottoms opener keychain*!! #taproombkk #experience #craftbeer Wish we could be in Thailand for this #HereticBrewing #pintnight!
Colors/Fonts/Icons – Ideally these would be thoughtfully chosen. For example, Abita’s choice of purple, gold, and fleur de lis imagery on their website and much of their materials evokes cultural markers familiar to Louisiana, such as the New Orleans Saints, the LSU Tigers, and Mardi Gras.
Product Names & Label Designs – Pique curiosity in your brand with creative naming conventions and designs to go with.
Product Descriptions – Every label is an opportunity to cast your customers as the star of a mini-story. They aren’t just drinking a beer; they’re having an experience. What is that experience?
Photographs – Always use your own photos! Take lots of them. Let’s see your staff hard at work. Let’s see people enjoying themselves in your pub. The more visuals you can provide the more people will connect with you.
Videos – How creative can you get? Located in Lancaster, California, a city known for its aerospace driven economy, Kinetic Brewing used a short, but funny video to gain interest and top of mind awareness with a demographic that’s very likely to appreciate their efforts (and fresh beer).
Trucks, tents, tap handles, and more! Look for every opportunity to share your brand’s story.
Bringing it Together
Your efforts must be consistent.
12 years after making its debut for our first Anniversary Ale, our imperial brown ale, Bravo, has finally made its way to the bottle for distribution! Balancing rich toasty and chocolate malt flavors with a gentle balance of noble hops, Bravo is brewed to showcase barrel flavors with massive bourbon barrel notes that morph as the beer warms in the glass. Also new for 2017 is the 12oz format for our vintage offerings, allowing fans to enjoy a high-gravity, barrel-aged beer without committing to consuming a full 22-ounce bottle. Bravo releases at FW locations on Saturday, Feb. 4th. Bravo costs $9.99 plus tax & CRV each; 12 bottle limit per person. Distribution to all FW markets beginning the following week, depending on your area.
Your audience should be swept into your story whenever they encounter your brand. Before adding any new product lines or launching any new marketing effort you should always be asking yourself how the new “characters” will contribute to the story you’ve been telling.
Photo at top of page of Hoodoo Brewing Company taken by Bernt Rostad / CC BY 2.0
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