Now that we know what positioning is, let's get into the nuts and bolts of defining it for your brewery.
Now that we’ve explored what positioning is, let’s get a bit more hands-on by looking at a few different strategies to clearly define it for your brewery.
Through the lens of an increasingly crowded craft beer market, we think it’s fair to say that concrete positioning will become more and more difficult to achieve based on the beer you brew alone. Or to put it another way, there are a lot of great breweries making a lot of great beer.
So, how else can a new craft brewery differentiate itself?
CONCEPT & STORY
Aside from great beer, it’s important to have a compelling story. Why are you brewing your beer? How did you get your start? Why does your beer (and your story) matter? This idea needs to align with your overall concept—that is, a collection of ideas including your business model, beer styles, brewery atmosphere and pricing.
LOCATION & COLLABORATION
Location used to be a great way for new breweries to differentiate, but again, with more and more new brewers opening up shop, it’ll be harder to hang your hat on your geography. The exception may be in hyper-local partnerships with local farmers and producers, coffee roasters and other breweries.
It may sound old fashioned, but if your tasting room is staffed by assholes, people won’t want to come back. If your delivery drivers are rude, don’t clean tap lines, or drive recklessly, people won’t want to support you. Believe it or not, service can still be a great differentiator, particularly if paired with another unique brand attribute.
And finally, everything we’ve discussed up to now has to be directly aligned with your branding, that is, the visual design of your identity, packaging, responsive website, merch, and brewery space.
Compelling branding can be a fairly cost effective way of differentiating your brewery out of the gate. Consider the alternate route: spending years to enmesh your beer into local bars and peoples’ minds, and then having to backtrack and address branding issues after the fact.
We helped position 450 North Brewing Co. (Columbus, IN) as “Indiana’s farm brewery.” Their flagship packaging line that tells this story with sun-faded colors, industrial patterning, and no-nonsense Midwestern beer descriptions.
If this sounds like a lot of information, fear not. As much as we stress the importance of compelling branding and positioning for craft breweries, you should never forget that the most important thing you can do as a new brewery is make the best beer you can possibly brew. While branding can attract people initially, it’s your beer that will turn them into loyal fans.
Write your Brand Positioning Statement
We don’t always craft brand positioning statements because it’s rare that you’d ever need to use one in the wild. So while we don’t always think it’s necessary, it can lend a sense of completeness to this entire process.
Your goal is to put a sentence together that clearly states what you offer, who it’s meant for, why it’s special, and the role you play in their lives.
IT SHOULD LOOK SOMETHING LIKE THIS:
EXAMPLE: Big Lug Canteen serves Nora residents English-style beers and hearty gastropub fare in a fun, airy, and creative spot.