Tell your story (Why are you Rebranding?)
Craft beer drinkers value transparency and authenticity just as much as they do price and quality. This means that you should be open and candid in explaining what’s going on. Why are you rebranding? Why the new packaging or logo? Has continued growth highlighted the need to get your packaging updated? What can people expect to see from you moving forward? If you don’t direct the narrative by giving people the entire story, they’ll make up their own.
Tell your story in a blog or video (something with more impact and information than a short social media post). And don’t forget more traditional outlets like press releases and media interviews (local news, podcasts, etc.). Tell your story across multiple channels, and tell it often.
You can make this process more memorable (and painless) by teasing people that a change is coming. This includes external and internal communications. Internally announcing the change becomes particularly important if you have more than a dozen employees, multiple locations, and a broad distribution footprint.
If your branding partner did their job right, they will have engaged your entire team throughout the research process. But it’s not uncommon for people who aren’t on the executive team to not know exactly what’s going on in the process every step of the way. So you still need to make sure you share all the updated work with the team. In smaller outfits, this isn’t too hard. Order in lunch and give a presentation (Dim the lights and play some smooth jazz. Make it sexy. Scratch that. Don’t make it sexy. Please stick to the agreed upon talking points, thank you.).
This can be challenging for large breweries with multi-state footprints and different retail accounts, field sales folks and distributor relationships. This is where having streamlined internal communication tools in place can really help. Sharing updated identity and packaging work via Slack, Google Drive, or Dropbox can give everyone access to the new files and inform them on how to use everything.
And after walking people through the changes, equip your team with new shirts and hats. Get them hyped! They are your brand’s first ambassadors, after all.
Announcing externally: your master campaign timeline
It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when planning a brand launch, so we like to start with internal considerations and important external touch points and move backwards from there.
This can include:
- How much old stock are you sitting on? Can you use all of that up before moving to new packaging?
- When is the soonest date you’ll be able to launch all of your new packaging? (Don’t forget to factor in brewing time, TTB approval, printing, packaging and distribution schedules.)
- When can you launch your new website?
- Is there a major event (festival, conference, anniversary) driving the timeline?
- Are you planning a new beer release or party to announce the change?
Use this information to determine the best week to take your rebrand live. We say a week here because this gives you a comfortable buffer. You can announce the new look and launch your website a few days ahead of the party rather than having a hard deadline that could be thrown off by something out of your control (server issues, delivery issues, etc.).
Other than a big anniversary date, transitioning to new packaging is often the most important thing driving a rebranding timeline. And this is a complicated dance—you need to consult your can/bottle vendors to ensure they will have the stock available, and factor in TTB approval, print production, warehousing costs and brewing/packaging timelines. How much old stock are you sitting on? And can you use all of that up before moving to new packaging or would the sunk costs be too high?
Tease early and often
We’ve found that 7-8 weeks out from the launch date provides a good timeline to start hinting at the change. Or more realistically, to get people to check your social handles (or drop by the taproom) on the big day.
Let’s say you’re able to launch your rebrand on August 1. That means that you will want to start hinting at the process by early June and ramp up in frequency leading up to the big day.
Atlanta Brewing’s master project & rebrand announcement timeline
The team at Atlanta Brewing (formerly Red Brick Brewing) rebranded to celebrate their 25th (!!!) anniversary, and decided to reveal the new look with a huge launch party at their brewery (head back to page 78 for a refresher). This party kicked off a month of local programming, parties, beer dinners and tap takeovers that drew thousands of people from around the state and earned a boatload of local and national press.
This event also saw the introduction of their new name and brand identity, flagship packaging, website launch, and new signage (installed the night before launch day). Alongside this was an orchestrated press push that included local news and national outlets like Paste Magazine and Good Beer Hunting. We even got into the mix with our own write-up that was shared throughout the design community.
Here’s the master timeline that drove the entire Atlanta Brewing rebrand, leading up their huge anniversary party.
It’s always good to tease your fans with the new look. The key word here is “tease.” Don’t show your full logo. Show a small part of it, or a tight shot of your new packaging, website and merch. You can blur images, or obscure them in some other way—the sky’s the limit. The big thing is getting people excited that a change is coming so that it’s not dropped on them without any warning or context.
Focusing on your brewery’s history with “Did you know” or “On this day” posts are a fun way to tell your brewery’s story as you lead up to your rebrand launch. Other things to focus on can include:
- Awards you’ve won
- Major press
- Yearly highlights along the way
- Expansion dates (new tanks, facilities, taprooms, market launches)
- When you added a new team member
- Any major milestones in your brewery’s history
And finally, celebrate it!
We’re jumping ahead here since you still have to complete your own rebranding process. But when you do, this unveiling should signal to everyone the progress you’ve made and the mark your brewery is making both in your local community and in the larger craft beer industry. Shout it out! Don’t just throw new can mockups on Instagram and call it good—throw a damn party and invite all of your friends.
Have a beer, or three. You’ve successfully navigated a complex process and shouldn’t be worrying about anything on this special day. Revel in what you and your team have accomplished. Tip your server. Hug your design firm. Send a friendly letter of recommendation for that cellarman in Salt Lake City. Enjoy the night. And get a ride home.
If you’ve walked through this process in a deliberate manner with your design partner, you’ll make a huge splash with your rebrand that will earn loads of goodwill and directly lead to more customers and more sales. Your rebrand will celebrate what you’ve accomplished to date and tell the world what you intend to do moving forward.
Thanks for reading our book. If you’d like to discuss how we can help you rebrand your brewery, reach out anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
The exercises in Section 7 of the workbook will help you figure out when and how you want to announce your brewery’s rebrand.
Overall, you will:
- Plan your launch day / week / month
- Create a master Gantt chart timeline
- Identify what channels and assets need to be updated
- Identify potential roadblocks
- Plan a party!