Is your beer brand future-proof?

With over four decades of experience within the drinks and beer sector, Strategic Director Myles Pinfold gives 4 tips on future-proofing your beer brand.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that the brewing sector has a tendency to follow the crowd – one brewer starts a trend and before you know it everyone else appears to be doing the same. And in recent years it’s become an even more reactive industry, with the pace of change accelerating. Whilst reactive might be good in some circumstances, proactive is often better.

When it comes to brand planning, you need to be thinking up to three years ahead of the game and mapping your journey accordingly… Sometimes it’s better to ‘zag’ whilst everyone ‘zigs’! Your brand strategy can help to future-proof your business by building on key strategic deliverables:

Product – ensure your beers align with both your proposition and positioning, and are fit for market. Flavoured, hazy, lactose and no/low alcohol beers are currently trending but as the market fragments even more, you need to be relevant to your target consumer.

Price – the market has shifted to the high-end and there is dynamic growth in key niches. In many respects it’s never been a better time to be in brewing and although this is a blessing, it also means that you need to be clear about your brand’s positioning.

Place – where are the easy wins and what are your stand-out qualities? Identifying a clear brand identity as playing to your strengths is key to success.

Promotion – understanding your routes to market and planning around the most effective media channels and platforms is key to achieving the best return on investment.

A big challenge is building a brand that can grow with the brewery. One-off themes are easy for small breweries who have no clear strategy, but can come across as less authentic or even disingenuous as the brewery grows. That same approach can lead to cognitive dissonance in a sector where many brewers lack any real brand equity with the consumer. What all the successful (and rich) brands have in common is a cohesive, individual and distinctive brand identity.

As the market becomes more and more crowded and the pace of bringing new beers to market increases the temptation is to go for the cheap and easy option, and forego the challenge of creating original work. Smart brewers continue to create brands that are both ownable and push the barriers.