I know, I know, you have (or will have) a metric crap-ton on your plate while working towards starting your brewery, but with a bit of planning, you can help ensure that your brewery marketing is headed for success.
Decide on a Brewery Name and Plan Your Positioning Within the Market
There is one very important element to think about when deciding on your brewery’s name. Is your name unique in the craft industry? How about the beverage industry? To be on the safe side, you don’t want your name to collide with another manufacturer of any type of craft beverage or you can likely expect to see a lawsuit down the road. Trademark battles are becoming a huge issue in the craft beer space, so be sure to consult with an experienced attorney regarding your brewery’s name along with any beer names you’ve already come up with. Even small town breweries that never distribute have been sued over trademark infringement. Don’t learn this the hard way.
Also, be sure to consider your market positioning. How do you plan to differentiate yourself from other breweries? How will the beer you produce be different than others on the shelf? You are entering a very crowded marketplace – so how will you stand out? Crafting high-quality, consistent beer is a given. You will need an angle, or niche, that helps your brewery stand out. Focus on your niche and create a culture around it.
pro-tip: Create a line that can be connected via your core/flagship beers and your brand. For example, think about Shmaltz’s beer and how many of their beers have an unmistakable link back to the brewery’s name and story. Or how Dogfish Head’s beer names, ingredients, and/or bottle stories align with their slogan: “off-centered beer for off-centered people”.
Dig into this topic more: Watch this Brewbound video about developing a strong brewery brand with Michael Kiser, Brand Strategist (@goodbeerhunting) & John Barley, Co-Founder and President, Solemn Oath Brewing
Register your Brewery’s Domain Name
If you have a name picked out for your brewery and have filed a DBA, register your domain name before a cyber-squatter grabs it and makes you pay 10,000+ times what it will cost you now. If the .com is available, grab it. Also, grab .net and .beer if they are available. The best time to register a domain is before you file for your DBA. There is an entire industry built around snatching domain names and holding them for ransom (cyber-squatting). Once they’re on to you wanting to open a business using a domain they own, you are kind of screwed. If you register early and end up changing your brewery name, the worst case scenario means you are out $20-$100 for the registration and have to register a new domain. If you wait to register your domain, your worst case scenario might drive you to drink all of the beer you produce – so, please register early.
pro-tip: Register your domain for 3+ years at a time. Google will reward you with a bit more trust knowing that you aren’t a fly-by-night establishment, which may help better your search engine rankings.
Have a Memorable Logo Designed
Logos are important and if at all possible, you should be branding yourself right out of the gate. You may only have one opportunity to make a first impression; and you know what they say about first impressions — something about not being able to take it back. So, the earlier you can get started on designing your brewery’s logo, the better. Good design takes time for collaboration and when creating a brand, you want to be sure your logo encompasses what your brewery is all about. So very often, we see start-up breweries launch with a logo that’s rushed and they end up rebranding down the road. Reprinting swag, barware, point-of-sale materials, etc. is not fun (nor cheap).
pro-tip: Be sure to get your logo illustrated in a “vector” format so that you can print it clearly on everything from small items to billboards without distortion. If your designer is working in photoshop to design your logo – run, don’t walk, away.
bonus tip: You get what you pay for. (You’re welcome.)
Setup Social Media Accounts for Your Brewery-to-Be
Getting early buy-in from those in your market will help your story and brand spread.
To ensure that when you do officially open, you are met with more than just friends and family — set up social media accounts starting with the most popular places your audience is already hanging out (Facebook, Instagram & Twitter). Invite your loyal friends and family to follow you to seed your follower count.
We know the path to opening day is filled with interesting happenings and obstacles you will overcome, so there will be no shortage of topics to post about. Start posting progress photos and tidbits about your journey. People who want to see you succeed will “like” and share those little milestones like FINALLY getting your license approved by the TTB. Heck, I’ve seen a post about installing purse hooks under the bar counter get liked and shared hundreds of times! Share your excitement and others will get excited for you.
pro tip: Do not sign up for accounts you have no interest in posting to regularly. Hate Twitter? Don’t bother with it, then. It’s better to have no account than to have an account that sits dormant and gives the impression that nothing is happening at your brewery.
pro tip part deux: Don’t auto post from Facebook to Twitter. The message is often truncated and just points back to a post on Facebook – which isn’t a good experience for your followers. Try a service like buffer (they even have a free version) and let it post to each platform individually for you.
Launch Your Brewery’s Website
Your brewery website doesn’t need to be the Mona Lisa of websites, but should at a minimum be a mobile-friendly splash page (a single web page containing an announcement) with your location, a little bit about the brewery and your anticipated opening date. Also, include links to follow you on your cool new social media accounts. Be sure to add to the page as you progress to include your phone number and hours.
If you’re really ambitious, you can setup a WordPress blog on your domain and write about your adventure. Here is a fun (yet sometimes gut-wrenching) example, and a great place for breweries-in-planning to learn about one brewer’s progress towards launch: Alarmist brewing’s blog (I purposely linked you to his first post, so you can see where he started).
In the background, work with a web designer to launch your brewery’s official website. While your simple web page is live on your domain, your web designer can be working on your website in another location which is not accessible to the public. Working on this before you open the doors, even to get a simple website live, will help people not only learn more about your brewery but will further the impression that you have your stuff together (even if maybe you don’t, yet).
Why isn’t this a step one? Because you may not have any details to place on even a simple splash page. A good time to publish to your domain is after you have a location (at least a city).
pro-tip: Ask your website designer to include “schema markup” on your website to help Google and other resources easily index your important information such as name, location, phone number and hours.
pro-tip II: Once your website is live, use these tips to help you market your new brewery website.
Starting a craft brewery is an exciting, exasperating, and long process. You’ll find it well worth the rewards earned by teaching people about great beer, freshly made, with your brand’s special twist on it. Best wishes to you in your journey. Prost!
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