Defining Your Brewery’s Core Brand Values
Framing your core values is one of the most important steps in the rebranding process. If done right, your core values will act as touchstones against which you can weigh future business decisions and partnerships, new hires, and even the beer you brew.
Your brand values are the immutable code by which you run your business. They are manifested through your actions and behaviors, particularly when no one’s looking. What do you stand for? Why do you brew beer the way you do? What are the non-negotiables for your business? Why do you exist?
It’s important to define your brand values because they directly influence your positioning, storytelling, strategic messaging and brand essence. They inspire your internal team, attract the best industry talent and get customers excited to support your brewery (we all want to support companies whose values align with our own).
You’ll go through a values clarification exercise in the workbook. As a preview, you’ll be writing all the specific values you hold dear. Some examples can include:
innovation / community / artistry / precision / inclusivity / adventurous / collaboration / curiosity / playful / inventive / relentless / traditional / DIY / self reliance / balance / accessibility / mentorship / stewardship / reverence
You’ll end up with a dozen or so ideas from this first round. From here, you’ll review this list and combine or eliminate any similar ideas (it’s not uncommon to capture a lot of synonyms your first time through). There’s no magic number, but we try to get the final list down to three or four core values. We find this makes them easier to remember and more importantly, easier to live by.
Here are a few questions to help you narrow down your larger lists of values (in case you’re spinning your wheels):
Is this value unwavering?
It’s easy to be high and mighty when there’s no money on the line. How steadfast is this value? If a big enough opportunity comes around, can you be swayed from your position? If so, it may not be a core value. (Example: If supporting your local economy is an important value, will you pay the extra money to buy locally-fabricated fermenters?)
Is this something you're proud of?
Are you willing to wear this value across your chest like a badge of honor? When telling people about your brewery, is this one of the first things you mention? Or when people are telling their friends about your brewery, do they mention it?
Is this value reflective of why you started your brewery?
Cut right to the heart of it—why did you start your brewery? Can you boil the reason down to one or two words?
Once you’ve narrowed your core values down to a few ideas, take some time to write about what each of these ideas mean to you—nothing crazy, maybe a paragraph or two. Why is “curiosity” a core value? What does that mean to your brewery and why does it matter?
Through this exercise, you may be able to rename these values to be more thematic, ownable and actionable.
Here’s a quick example:
Immigrant Son Brewing
Immigrant Son Brewing is a Brewpub in Cleveland, Ohio. Their name and story is derived from the owner’s (Andrew Revy) personal history of living a secret home life as a Hungarian immigrant growing up in the United States. In his words:
I wanted to listen to American music and eat fast food; my parents wanted me to wear lederhosen in public. I wouldn’t trade my heritage for the world, but at the same time—like anybody else growing up in America, I wanted to fit in.
This informed his core values, which he then blended into a few short paragraphs:
“With a lot of hard work, I’ve found a place for myself in the service industry, thanks in no small part to Cleveland itself emerging as a destination for world-class dining. I’m a proud member of this community and seek to tell this story to everyone who walks through our doors and with every pint we serve. If you work hard for a living, whether in an air-conditioned office or out in the sun with a shovel in hand, you’re welcome here.”
PUSH BEYOND THE TABLE STAKES
There are some words that most breweries use to describe themselves—“quality,” “service” and “local” being some of the most common. While there’s nothing wrong with these concepts, they shouldn’t have to be said. Of course you should aim to brew quality beer and provide outstanding customer service. But this idea doesn’t help you stand out from the crowd. Strive to stand for something that’s unique to your brewery—something that truly differentiates you from your competition.