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The Importance of Branding Your Brew

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Brand Me! Guest Blogger Tamara Connolly is the Principal & Creative Director at We Are How, a branding, design, and web development studio. She has over 14 years of experience helping clients from the retail, publishing, news, foundation, brewing, and health & wellness sectors implement well-conceived and effective branding and design solutions that help their organizations succeed.  The Business of Branding Your Brew If you are in the beginning stages of starting your own brewery, chances are that naming, branding, and design are on your list of things to do. Just having them on your list though, without knowing more about how to proceed down this path in the best possible way is setting yourself up for some unfortunate things to happen — aggravation, larger than necessary expenses, increased demands on your already limited time, and/or design that isn’t great or cohesive. Here are some tips for how to approach this process in a way that yields the best results with the least strain. Naming While it might sound easy, naming is typically a very involved process. From my own informal observation of start-ups engaging in this process, it takes about 4 months, on average, from start to final name. Some people get lucky and it will take less, some people wrestle with it for much longer. Because that can be such a difficult process, I recommend that you start at least 6 months before you anticipate signing a lease. Don’t fall in love with any name until it checks out with a search on the USPTO trademark electronic search system, the Beer Advocate, and a general Google search. Hand in hand with a name, should be some kind of story or description of your brand attributes — the two should work together, and should be appropriate for your audience. Once you have a name that is firm and not likely to change, I recommend you engage a trademark lawyer to file an Intent-To-Use application with the USPTO, in order to hold your name until you can file a trademark when you are actually using the mark in commerce. What makes a good name? That’s a separate conversation, worthy of it’s own blog post. Weaving Branding into your Business Plan How you plan on funding your brewery start-up costs will influence when and how you begin to think about branding and design. Self-funding vs. seeking investors will dictate a different timeline for this process. If you are funding the start-up on your own, you can probably put off branding and design until you’ve got a lease signed, but once that lease is signed, it’s go-time (remember, you’ve already got an Intent-To-Use application filed for your name at this point). If you are seeking investors, you’ll want branding and design reflected in your investor document — most investors want to see it, and you’ll stand a better chance of wooing them. It is an important piece that shows you’ve thought about the market for your product, and how to appeal to them. That investor document, even though it’s not for public circulation, is your first piece of marketing collateral. If you are working with a very limited budget, you might not be able to include a fully fleshed about visual brand identity in your investor document, but you can, and should, have it be well designed and convey the essence of your brand. Beyond the logo When you engage with a design agency or consultant it’s important to be thinking beyond a logo. Many start-ups will hire an agency or consultant to fill that specific need, without realizing that the logo isn’t an end point — it’s really a piece of something much larger, your whole brand identity. While it may seem like more work, creating a strong brand style guide, including your logo, as the first phase of work is going to save you a lot of agony and cost later down the line. It will inform everything you do in the short-term and long-term future so there is cohesion with less guesswork, less rounds of “getting it right”, and less time explaining what your brand is all about to anyone that you hire to create brand touch-points (interior designers for your tasting room, tap handle designers, packaging design, etc). A good style guide doesn’t just list color specifications and fonts, it should clearly convey your spirit and style with visual and written content. Having a style guide doesn’t mean that your brand can’t change over time, but if and when it does, it should be intentional, not a byproduct of shooting from the hip. When you do evolve your branding and design, you would change your style guide accordingly to ensure it’s carried out with consistency. Want to learn more? If you are interested in learning more about effectively branding your brew, I’ll be going into more detail in my upcoming class: “The Business of Branding Your Brew” on Saturday October 25th. Book it here! Hope to see you there! Happy Branding! Tamara


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