I'll admit that while its lost a lot of its authenticity through mass marketing and message dilution, "craft" is still a powerful driver of brand positioning, maintaining a certain inimitable resonance through the recent and impressive industry growth and signifying a powerful level of intentionality, purpose, and yes, counter culture resistance to mass market fizzy yellow beer.
Beer is important. It's not, in any circumstance, a means to an end. In some of the most important ways, great beer is a journey that folks embark upon for the sake of it, eschewing the idea that there's even a need for a destination. It's experiential. You might drink a beer to catch a buzz, and I feel you on that, but generally you drink a beer because engaging in the drinking fprocess is the most important part, and catching a buzz is just a side-effect.
I want to explain a concept called Design Thinking, which embodies a comprehensive approach to the creation of new things and new processes. Design, generally speaking, is a critically important part of the product itself. Design turns complexity into pleasure, and helps folks make sense of a complicated, nuanced world. You see great design every day and you take it for granted, which is often times the entire point. It appeals to your sentience and it's just...nice. It's a deliberate practice, and it takes an enormous amount of energy, and the right framework, to execute properly.
Guinness is not a beer company. It doesn't produce a series of ales and lagers , and has never branded itself as such. Guinness (the company), for the last 250 years, has made Guinness (the beer), one of the world's most widely distributed products, sold in over 150 countries across the globe. You may or may not like Guinness, but its complete market saturation and ubiquity is the result of a global population that has grown up with the product on tap and available at a local pub. Guinness doesn't make beer, it makes Guinness.
This is what a story does. A story contextualizes the moment. It adds relevance, reality, and humanity to what would otherwise be a bunch of words. Ad copy doesn't do that. Ad copy communicates perceived value in the fewest possible words. Remember that time you went out to eat with your friends and ate dinner and carried on until the wee hours of the morning? This is the epitome of the human experience. It's unforgettable.
None of these insights are revolutionary. I riffed over and over again about the power of human communication in craft beer storytelling, which is infinitely stickier and more durable than a simple tasting of the brewery's latest IPA, and it always boils down to the same thing. Are you doing things that result in your brand being valuable to your potential market?
POS is supposed to keep the brand top of mind. It's supposed to help you, the craft beer consumer, easily recognize the brewery and its offerings. This, in theory, expands the brand equity, builds awareness, and increases sales of the beer, which is the whole point. But I'm a pragmatist, and I posit that it's not nearly as effective as breweries think it is.
What does it take for you to admit that you're scared? What does it take for you to admit that you're wrong? How far will you go to avoid addressing it in the first place?
And you want to know, by far, our favorite part of all this? It's the fact that the stories, and the love, and dare we say it...the passion, that went into these pints and kegs is growing along with the volume of beer itself.
I'll say that I lament the use of a standard set of black tap handles over the unique, and arguably beautiful, tap handles that breweries are working so hard to create.