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The basics of marketing a brewery: name and logo

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Recently we’ve been writing a column for a new online beer magazine, Beer Connoisseur. I’ve even got to the point where I spell “Connoisseur” correctly on the first try. A couple weeks ago we ran an article about the basics of marketing a new brewery. I’d like to present a slightly updated version of that same story here.

First, this is about the first steps in marketing a new brewery. We will get more in-depth later, but this post discusses the importance of names and logos. Once you know you’re starting a brewery, you need to call it something. You need a logo. You need names for your beers. Before you go all crazy brainstorming, consider the following:

  • Your mission. Why do you want to start a brewery? How do you want to do things differently? What’s your story and what things will you never compromise on?
  • Your market. Who are the big craft beer players in the geographic area you plan on targeting? Are there any gaps in terms of beer styles or brand strategy that you can exploit? Atlanta was lacking a cosmopolitan-feeling microbrewery, which is where we thought our strengths were.
  • Your consumer. Newsflash: you aren’t the first craft brewery to open its doors. And craft beer drinkers are notoriously fickle, though not necessarily in a bad way. Most craft beer drinkers are different from mainstream beer drinkers in that they don’t stick to a particular brand. However, they may gravitate towards certain brands. To make sure that one of these brands is yours, you have to stand for something. Think about your target consumer as a literal target. You need to choose a bullseye. Something narrow and focused. It doesn’t have to say everything about your brand, but it does have to say something. Once you stand for something, people will automatically start attributing other things to you, thus widening your target and your appeal.

Once you’ve got some clarity on the three large buckets above, you can start brainstorming a name for your brewery. And once you’ve got that, you can start in on the logo. Both of these are important elements. They will be the first things a consumer hears or sees regarding your beer. Even before you open your doors, they can help to define what others expect of you. What should you look for in a name?

  • Descriptive of who you are and what you’re about
  • Short and sweet
  • Easy to spell
  • Domain name is available
  • Sufficiently different from competition

As for the logo, there are many different ways to go about designing it. You can do it yourself. You can turn to friends or family with some graphic design expertise. You can hold a logo contest online at a place like 99designs.com. You can go to a freelancer, ad agency or graphic design firm. We designed it ourselves with initial idea input from an online logo contest. Total cost was $150 + hours and hours of my time. Whatever option you choose, here are some things to think about:

  • Imagine it on a tap handle, pint glass or bottle. Logos don’t float around by themselves, they need to be experienced in context.
  • Can it be easily converted to one color? One-color printing is much cheaper, so it’s something to consider. Seriously.
  • Can it be deciphered from far away? Chances are consumers aren’t going to have it 3 inches in front of them when they first see your logo.
  • Is it flexible enough to stay with you as you grow? Drastic logo changes should be avoided if possible.

half_acre_tap_handle

Give as much specific feedback to your designer upfront as possible. In my experience, both with Monday Night and as someone who has worked with designers and ad agencies, you’ll get a better quality product if you give them a head start to where you want to be. Think about what words you want the logo to convey. Any font styles you particularly like? What about colors? Are there any that you absolutely need or absolutely need to stay away from?

That’s it on the name and logo. If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave them as comments. I’m hoping to talk more about marketing a brewery as time goes on. It’s a subject that is near and dear to my heart, and also a subject that we’re learning about daily.

Image source: sarah-ji

5 thoughts on “The basics of marketing a brewery: name and logo

  1. Looks like you’ve got friends in Chicago; we’re about a mile and a half from Half Acre’s ongoing construction-ridden site and are pretty excited for their opening…

    All brilliant points; particularly about having something that you’ll love for the long run. It’s a daunting task thinking through such an importance face for your beer in years down the road (just imagine little Teddy picking up a sixer from off the shelf in 20+ years…), but I think you’ve done a great job with it. Thanks for sharing that info; makes us all appreciate the work and effort you’ve put into it all thus far. Fantastic job.

  2. In this day and age, logos, design, brand image, etc are super important. In fact, the main reason I first checked out Half Acre was because I liked their logo and design, and for my husband Ted, the rest became history.

  3. Did you trademark your name before you entered into a logo contest and before you started getting input from others? Weren’t you afraid that someone could copy your idea?

  4. B.: We didn’t TM our name until afterward. It is a risk, but we didn’t want to commit the funds and time to trademarking until we were sure we had the right idea.

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