What is brand culture? Brand culture is the unique development of expression that affects the way people feel about your company and its products. The more consistent your voice, the more consistent your branding, whether through content, creative design, community outreach or perspective. Brands that are developed with a refined culture and image, should build a brand’s awareness, and develop trust and loyalty with consumers.
Creating a good brand culture means that everyone is on board with the values and purpose that drive the brand. Instead of the brand being a public image that is projected only outwardly to customers, it’s something that is built from the inside out. It means that the people who make up the business are living, breathing the story of the brand that they represent.
One of the greatest examples of strong brand culture and image is in the alcohol industry and most notably, in craft beers. For many consumers, a good craft beer equals high quality and a sense of community. Brands need to protect that reputation at all costs. When trying to grow a brand beyond its local popularity, it is important to continue to convey the strong roots and image of the brand when marketing, so it is attractive to new consumers for the same reasons that it has grown the existing, local loyalists.
As craft breweries continue to grow in popularity and demand for products rise, these companies spend a lot of money to increase the size of production facilities. In order to pay for the production capacity, they must continue to grow their distribution footprint to increase sales. It’s a difficult situation to navigate. Distribution, retail shelf space and most of all the competition, all must be thoroughly evaluated.
When you’ve developed your brand on local core values and been involved in community activities, how do you promote your brand in an area where consumers are not familiar with your products? You need to grow but don’t want to offend your local following as they are the bread and butter that got you to this point.
How do you get new consumers to know your brands and your values in new markets without some form of advertising? I’m going to say you can’t. Many craft brewers are against advertising and big media options. First and foremost, because of the expense and second, because those who have tried, just were not able to compete with the budgets that the big brands have.
In my opinion, advertising is something that a brand must do if they want to break through into new territories and expand their sales. The key is to expand your market share gradually and branch out by beginning close to home with brand awareness campaigns.
I don’t recommend you start off marketing in a new territory with just one product. Then all consumers will recognize is that name on a can or bottle. Start with your company logo and keep it consistent across all the products in your portfolio! That’s what people will and should recognize and associate with the quality of products that you produce, no matter what is in the can. Shelf space is limited for all your brands, if consumers only know one product and can’t find it on the shelf, they can’t buy it. They will give up and move on and try another. If they are looking for your company brands, they have a much better shot at finding something they want to buy.
When you start with one product and it catches on, that’s great! However, it also pigeonholes you into that one product becoming your flagship beer in that area. One thing to remember, what folks like in Sacramento CA. is not necessarily what folks like in Plymouth MA. Complete brand recognition is the key. If people know and relate to your company as “Brand X”, they will be looking for all “Brand X” products not just a “Jump the Shark” IPA or a “Limp Bizkit” Lager, LOL! I just made those up. But I’m sure one of the craft brands will steal them by next week!