Craft Beer Marketing in 2019: CBC Takeaways

Earlier this month, we attended the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver. While most of our team tended to our BrewExpo America® booth, I ventured off to see what I could learn in a few of the many education sessions being offered to conference attendees. As part of our efforts to help our clients and readers sell more, here is a summary of information I found most useful.

We live in a noisy world.

Between the ever-growing popularity of social media and the rapid growth of craft beer brands, consumers are being constantly bombarded by marketing messages. To stay relevant, brands are pumping out more and more content to ensure their story is heard. In fact, according to speaker Ann Handley, 73% of businesses are producing more marketing content than a year ago. That’s a lot of noise, and while frequency is important, what’s more important is the quality and relevance of your messaging.

Brand identity

Who are you and what makes you unique? Brands who try to be everything to everybody will likely fail. You need a clear vision of what you are trying to project before you even begin to create your first piece of marketing content.

“What is it that only you do?”
“What are your core values?”
“What is your story that you want the world to know?”

Once you have this clearly outlined, you can begin to apply to all your external and internal messaging.

Things to consider:

• Make sure your core team understands exactly who your brand is so that your messaging going out is always consistent.

• When crafting your messaging, focus on what your customer needs. Make an effort to lose your “marketing voice” and write content as if you are speaking to them one-on-one.

• Create brand guidelines specifically for social media that outline the tone and passion you want to portray so it remains consistent.

• Apply your brand story everywhere, including your About Us page, landing pages, microcopy, video captions, social media, email confirmation pages, etc. Take every opportunity you are given to personalize and tell your unique story.

In addition to your verbal messaging, you should also consider your brand identity when committing to events and collaborations. Instead of saying “yes” to everyone, be intentional about who you work with and focus on organizations that fit with your culture. By staying true to your voice and brand identity, the experiences you associate with will further strengthen and define your brand instead of detracting from it.


Visual Branding

While U.S. craft beer sales rose 3.9% in 2018, the number of breweries in the U.S. rose 12.9%! Now, more than ever, breweries need to have the best branding possible to earn the sales of their target consumer.

As great as your beer can be, if you have bad packaging design, you’re not going to make it.
Here are some tips:

• Create a strong, recognizable mark for your brewery.

• Communicate brand standards to all vendors and designers to ensure easy recognition.

• Establish an audience for each product and design to that audience.

Brands like New Belgium use this tactic to appeal to multiple types of consumers through their different beer brands:

Fat Tire brand for outdoorsy adventure seekers.

Voodoo Ranger persona for gamer/comic communities.

If sales are plateauing, a rebrand may be needed to bring new life into your brand.

• Make sure you have proper planning and purposeful marketing behind the rebrand. Don’t just put your new cans on shelves and pray.

• Research cultural trends and try to get ahead of them.

• Distance new offerings from your core beers.

Some examples of successful rebranding include:

Old Town Brewing Rebrand
Result: 50% increase in overall beer sales

Dogfish Head Rebrand
Result: 20% increase in year-over-year sales

Rohrbach Brewing Rebrand
Result: 16.5% increase in sales

Beyond the Label
While your beer’s packaging is important, it isn’t all you need to consider. How does your beer stand out in a crowded bar? Be sure you are always top of mind by:

• Attracting people sitting at the bar with eye-catching, custom tap handles.

• Attracting people throughout the room and in dark environments with custom signage that highlights your brand.

These brand-boosting investments are essentially insurance policies to make sure your brand sells in any environment.

Well folks, this concludes my summary. I hope this helps you on your journey towards better beer marketing. If you have any questions or have problems you need help overcoming, email us at and we will do our best to either help or point you in the right direction.



“Bigger, Bolder, Braver: The Grist You Need to Craft a Memorable Story That Leads”
Ann Handley (Chief Marketing Officer for MarketingProfs)

“BRAND FORWARD: Maximize Your Beer’s Potential Through Design”
Ryan Wheaton (Founder of Craft Brew Creative), Matt Neren (Partner, Account Director for Cultivator Advertising & Design), Brittany Statt (Marketing Director at Rohrbach Brewing Co.), & Jeff Nowicki (Chief Strategy Officer at Bump Williams Consulting)

“Who Is Your Brewery and What Do You Do? How to Define, Market and Align Your Brand”
Andrew Emerton (Specialty Brand Manager at New Belgium), Bryant Goulding (Co-Founder of Rhinegeist), Jonathan Shikes (Beer Writer at Denver Westword), Kailey Partin (Director of Marketing & Events at Rising Tide Brewing) & Tristan Chan (Founder & Marketing Manager of Ratio Beerworks)


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