Branding is more than just how you look

Branding is far more than just your label, logo or tap badge, it’s your reputation.

“Your brand is what people say when you’re not in the room,”

Matthew Remphrey is the owner and creative director of Adelaide’s Parallax Design and spoke at the recent Australian Craft Brewers Conference about branding, or more specifically he talked about one question: What do you want to be famous for?

Branding is far more than just your label, logo or tap badge, it’s your reputation, Matthew said. That is the power of branding and why it’s important to view any monies spent on developing it as a capital investment instead of just another cost on the bottom line.

Matthew says branding is the reason why people buy a Mercedes instead of a Toyota; it’s how you get people to pay more for a similar product.

In an introductory overview of branding, Matthew provided five questions for attendees to consider if they’re serious about creating a brand that will be remembered.



Matthew described this as a “fact finding” question that should take you through the breweries history and experience so far. He encouraged people to think about their brand, their brewery, as a person. How does that person behave, what do they do in their spare time? What music do they like?


This question, Matthew says, is all about what drives you, what is the one reason that keeps you going. Why did you get into this?


The answer to this question should be something no-one else can say; it must be absolutely unique, he stressed.

Example: Our _____ is the only _____ that _____

Matthew also suggested to trying writing your obituary, “when you close the doors in 20 years time, what do you want to be remembered for?”


What are you doing differently and what impact does this make?


This covers anyone who can make or break the business such as employees, suppliers, shareholders, media and even the bank.

In a growing category like ours, Matthew emphasised the importance of differentiating yourself. It is likely that in the eyes of the drinker your beer can be substituted for another, he said, so it’s critical to ask yourself what you’re doing that is different from everyone else and then be able to tell the world.

“Pricing is a really important part of positioning your brand,”

Matthew has worked with several wineries, and many of them have different tiers of a product, from entry level and premium wines and they come with their own price tag and so he wonders whether this is something craft beer can learn from? Is this something beer can do?

What I found most interesting from Matthew’s talk was his discussion on provenance, and he used the example of the paddock to plate movement in food. Consumers are engaging with the story behind their meal, who’s growing the veggies and the name of the farmer where the pig was raised and what their story is and maybe craft beer can learn from this. Maybe craft beer can go beyond just listing malts and hops like a bullet point presentation and talk about the farms and the people, is there an interesting story here? These stories, Matthew says, are probably not stories you’ll likely hear the big guys telling.


Weekend Reading #50

For those lazy weekend mornings when you just want to stay in bed and catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days and hope that you will too.

Stone & Wood website | In Beer We Trust

With the sale of Victoria’s Mountain Goat Brewing to beverage giant Asahi, people started to/continued to speculate on “who will go next?” as if the craft beer industry was one giant game of Survivor (or whatever the hell those reality TV shows are).

Perhaps I am naïve but I am not one of those who have been speculating but I can see why people would think Stone & Wood Brewing might be on that list – hugely popular, massive potential for growth. But the vision behind the brewery and the fact they bought back their shares from Little Creatures following the Lion Nathan sale should rule them out entirely. If that didn’t well founders Jamie, Brad and Ross have this to say – read on!

Ale of a Time | Podcast ‘sode 44 Branding with Damien Kelly and Emma Bemrose

I have always been interested in branding and marketing and when it comes to booze marketing my interest doubles. This episode was a great insight into a big brand like James Squire, the approach to managing their brand and what messages they wanted to convey with their rebrand. Several craft breweries also cop a mention and comment, if this sort of thing tickles your fancy you’re in for a more entertaining drive.

The Guardian | Beck’s beer settlement includes payouts for up to 1.7m US households

I found this article after doing some catching up on one of my favourite beer blogs – Beer is Your Friend.

It’s a really situation here as even though, if the article is accurate, Beck’s did nothing illegal they certainly seemed happy to mislead their customers about the origins of the beer. It reads like a case of a company ticking boxes rather than caring or respecting their customers.

Beer & Brewer | Feral to Bottle Watermelon Warhead

Feral have added yet another trophy to the pool room, this time at the recent Craft Beer Awards for Champion Craft Beer for Watermelon Warhead. Founder Brendan Varis reveals plans to bottle Warhead sometime in 2016. To recycle my Facebook comment – HOLY HELL BATMAN! Be still my beery heart, Warhead in bottles! Looking forward to that day!

Beer is Your Friend | The Pure Blonde Ad I Hate

You know the one, the one with the guy ordering beer and it puts a dent in the bar implying it’s heavy with carbs or whatever. Just like Glen over at his Beer is Your Friend blog, I hate the ad. I hate it because I don’t get the relevance. If you’re trying to be healthier then maybe don’t drink alcohol or just cut down or switch to lower alcohol options. I realise I am not the target market but I still find it awful advertising. Aside from this, it’s mislead and Glen delightfully points out how.

A few words on hipsters and craft beer

Above: Brews in the Beer Garden, May 2015 at The Boulevard with lots of people enjoying craft beer who aren’t all hipsters

Beyond the myth of women only drinking fruity sweet beers or that women have to be tricked into drinking beer in the first place, the myth that most craft beer drinkers are hipsters has rocketed to the top of my “things that tick me off about beer” list.

It’s mass media that seems to be feeding this mythical beast. As craft beer grows in popularity, the number of craft beer articles appearing in major newspapers also grows and with every article comes the same lazy-ass reference to hipsters.

Screenshot (7)

For every tight jean shorts, bearded hipster guy drinking a craft beer I’ll show you twenty people who don’t fit that description who love craft beer. It’s not because I am in the beer industry that I know this, it’s because I walk around with my eyes open.

I don’t read about farmers markets being a haven for hipsters just like I don’t read James Halliday saying his top rated wines are the perfect hipster accompaniment. I don’t see hipsters being associated with food trucks, kimchi, ceviche, sliders or any other foodie trend. What has craft beer done to get this association?

I really don’t know how it happened but it needs to stop, please.