Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Evolution of Weird Beard's Branding.

One of the first things to consider when starting a brewery is the branding and marketing of your beer. It is right up there with brewing good beer and balancing the books and other things you really want to do well.

Marketing  is the way that the general public get to know about your beer. For a small brewery this means Facebook, Twitter, a website, beer blogs both your own and through other people (why do you think I'm writing this?), meet the brewer events etc. For big breweries it involves aspirational TV adverts and sports sponsorship. Marketing is a strategy and perhaps in another blog I will get into it in more detail, but I want to go on to talk about branding.

Branding is a subset of marketing and is most important at the point of sale. Many punters, in the absence of any prior knowledge about the beer, will pick an interesting looking pumpclip or a good looking bottle. What better way of marketing your beer then to have people buy it, try it and talk about it?

So what branding have we got at Weird Beard Brew Co? Well as you will see the branding has evolved somewhat from fairly basic beginnings.

The first thing was the name. This was an incredibly difficult thing to get agreement on. Weird Beard has had a few people involved with the project over the year or so we have been thinking about it.

We have a file with over 75 possible names in there that we considered. Some of those that got more than 10 seconds of thought are below:

Second Chapter (People may remember Tony Lennon @tony2taps tweeting about this)
Rhythm and Brews
Weird Beard Brew Co
Square Mile
Great Fire Brewing Co
The Craft Brewery (to annoy all the people who don't like the name craft beer)
Artisan Beers
Studio 56 Brew Co
Happy Bat (Yes Stig @thehappybat was involved as well)
Big Smoke
South Bank
Thames Brewery
Borough Brewery
Another Brewing Company ("can I have another beer please?")
Elephant's Trunk
New Agenda
Inner City Brew Co
Urban Brew Co
The 4 Idiots that can build a brewery but not think of a name brew co.

We gave those in bold a bit more thought but it was only when it was down to Bryan and myself that Weird Beard Brew Co came out as a clear favourite. This was helped by Bryan going out and with the help of a mate designing a logo that worked:

Armed with a logo it was easy for me to dive into Photoshop and start designing beer labels for our homebrew beers. The font is sometimes know as Tim Burton but also the freely available as Trinigan FG and made for good title text.

The goal was for simple and striking. First feedback was writing text telling drinkers to store the beer upright should not be written vertically! Also note my (bad?) habit of replacing letters with clip art.

A few tweaks later, we had this. A version of this label had won the label competition at the LASECB Festival.  Feedback on this label was good, but a few people complained about amateur look to it. The black and white printed at home look to be exact. Looking back I am not sure I agreed at the time but certainly do now. However a retro label may be in order if we do this beer as a special.

Again the attempt was to be simple and striking. I guess you can see Marble and Otley influences in this especially, although others have mentioned James Bond. Another change was to lose the fancy font for much of the writing, making it easier to read and allowing us to put it in a smaller font giving more space.

Trying (and failing) to move away from the James Bond look. I thought how I could remove the Circle with a dark background. Make a negative of the logo? Perhaps but instead I found some interesting wallpaper and gave this a go. I really like the effect of these two labels and they make a coherent pair. Now I just need to convince Bryan that a Rauchbier seasonal (and a chipotle rauchbier) will sell well. I also think smoke and fire would translate to T-shirts very well.

Get picture of hops; crop to size; add overlay with 75% opacity; get something quite interesting. Can easily be changed in colour for others in the series.

Final tweaks to date. I added a dummy barcode and in response to other feedback reversed the brewery name and beer name positions. Not 100% sure if this is an improvement. Strangely I did not want to use Redpenguin or Dredpenguin as a brewery name but a beer name....that is a different matter.

Is it better to have the beer name prominent or the brewery name?

I'm sure that the branding will continue to evolve. Any and all feedback is welcome and I will of course do a follow-up post closer to launch time with our launch range of beers and labels.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

What are we taking on....?

So here is a bit more info about the proposed brewery location. All photos taken by Mike from Ellenberg's Brewery and reproduced on here with his kind permission.

Located under the tube line between South Harrow and Rayners Lane.

It has two levels under the arches and a large single storey shed out the back. 3000+ sq ft altogether

Surrounded by car MOT and service places who have made a bit of a mess. Still - interesting theme for the beer garden...

No electricity at the moment as someone has nicked the fuses.

Some issues with damp....

But someone left us a conservatory inside!

The toilets need a bit of a clean.

All very dark in the shed as they boarded up the windows...

...but plenty of space.

Upstairs is in reasonable condition.

These are our plans done in high tech Excel.

A lot of work to be done, including a new roof on the shed as it is rusted through in many places.

More photos below.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Where We Are At!

Having done the philosophising in the last post, this will set the picture of where we are at with Weird Beard Brew Co. 

We have formed a company, two major share holders Gregg  @dredpenguin and Bryan @WeirdBeardBryan.

We have a logo, a website and a deal with some guys doing T-shirts.

We have award winning homebrew recipes (I wonder if they will translate well into commercial ones...bloody hope so, it is a core part of the business plan!)

We have agreed to share premises with another LAB member who is starting Ellenburg's Brewery, reducing our capital expenditure and running costs. Hopefully there will be plenty of other benefits and not too much competition as we brew quite different beer styles.

We have found a potential location with the right amount of space and most importantly at the right price. It is in NW London and there are no other breweries near. It has some down sides. It is not in the most trendy part of town, nor is it surrounded with a plethora of craft beer outlets. It needs a new roof and a lot of TLC and a damn good makeover. However the good outweighs the bad and this is probably going to be the subject of another blog at another time.

We plan to brew beer that is modern and eclectic, using hops from every corner of the world (if we can get them), that match well with food and should appeal to CAMRA member and crafterati alike.

We plan to use all means of dispense, except perhaps cans. And avoid, like the plague, any craft vs cask fighting.

We hope to succeed!