Nov 9, 2017

Four Ways to Brand a Beer

At last count, the Portland Metro Area had 105 beer breweries. We’re sure this number will change — it will probably grow by the end of 2018. With Portland as the epicenter of our nation’s craft beer scene (we still stand by that) and a tight market, local brewers need to be more competitive than ever before.

Like branding, brewing beer is a process and a craft. And, if you don’t have a well-thought-out brand, from the label to the taproom, it won’t matter if your new IPA is the best ever developed. Your brand is the first experience a customer is going to have with your beer and with your brewery.

Make it matter.

Here are four ways a brewer can get noticed in Portland’s crowded marketplace and beyond, whether that’s in the Central Eastside or across the Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland.

Quality Design

This seems like a no-brainer, but there’s no excuse to not having a well-designed logo on your bottles, tap handles and signage. Yet it still happens. Often. “When someone sees a label that’s not professionally done or not well-thought-out, then it's a perceived quality,” said Ryan Wheaton, a freelance craft beer designer and host of Branding Brews Podcast. “A good, unique brand sets you apart.”

Location

A well-lit aluminum warehouse or cozy historic brick building with good bones? Here in the Central Eastside, we’re blessed with the latter. Places like Wayfinder and Hair of the Dog are snuggled into older buildings that evoke a warm, authentic vibe that goes beyond the architecture. Location can define your brand and define who you are as a brewery. If your new brewery is an old cannery, tap into the heritage and history for your brand. “Location can have a really deep effect on the brand. If you want to hold on to that history, it brings some of that into your beer brand,” said Wheaton.

The Name Game

The beer world has a knack for creating some clever names — and some horrible ones. Name your brewery on a location (Deschutes), your family name (pFriem) or make up a name that evokes your brand (Oakshire). If you’re trying to build a community around your brand, tap into local history. Our neighbors Wayfinder in the Central Eastside are a perfect example of a great name and location. The brewery transformed 8,900 square feet of a century-old brick warehouse into a classic destination for beer and food lovers.

Create an Experience

People want a more authentic experience and are looking for something that's local to them. There’s something attractive about knowing where ingredients like hops and grains come from. “People like to know that the people making your beer live in Portland and they're Portland residents who maybe have history here as well,” said Wheaton. “There’s something about going to a brewery that you know, getting fresher beer, getting fresher ingredients, with less of an environmental impact.”