The Big Picture
There are 4,650+ breweries in the US now. These are heady times for beer, but things are getting much more challenging. Old tried and true approaches are falling flat. Success in this highly competitive market requires a highly sophisticated strategy, a well-developed mission, and a differentiated brewery personality while hanging on to artisanal beer's uniqueness and funky charm.
As the market grows, our beer must find a wider audience, way beyond our inner circle of true believers. This makes a memorable, motivating story even more important. Your brewery must produce a unique creative product to stand out from the thousands of beers on the shelf, and then speak with a clear voice that helps customers understand what the experience of drinking your beer will be like. Honest stories told through beer are why our fans believe in us so fiercely, helping us to compete against the big guys.
It's not just beer drinkers who are overwhelmed with choices. Your potential trade partners face the same bewildering array of options, but through their experienced eyes, they know what works. Great products presented in a compelling way demonstrate that your brewery can excel on the shelves, and that translates to opportunity for them, and of course for you as well.
Like you, I bring personal passion and extensive hands-on experience with not just the beer itself, but everything that surrounds it. With my broad creative background and focused experience, I can help with everything: beer concepts, recipes branding, packaging and secondary messaging.
Here's a few basics I've learned over the years:
Stand for one thing; don't try to make all beers for all people.
If you don’t yet have a great story, start working on one.
Bring your passion. Craft beer is half religion, half business.
Figure out what you can bring to this business that nobody else on the planet can.
I can help you get started with a strong brand idea and product strategy, and then move on to product concepts and eventually recipes. Strong top-level ideas help you successfully navigate the endless stream of decisions about every aspect of your product and the way it is presented.
Randy Mosher Can Be Your Total Creative Consultant
1. Experienced creative professional with wide range of skillsMy diverse professional background in design, writing, new product development and teaching allows me to keep the big picture in mind. This allows me to help you move swiftly, and execute your vision—from brand strategy development all the way through to the package on the shelf.
I have a proven track record of creating branding and packaging that grabs the consumer, tells the brewery’s story and helps them imagine the experience of the product, all of which converts to a sale.
2. Global expert on beer flavor, styles and recipesAs a recognized authority on beer, I am uniquely qualified to conceptualize beers to suit any brand, region, audience or brewery. It doesn’t hurt to win a couple* of Great American Beer Festival Medals, too.
*Three so far, plus a World Beer Cup medal as well
3. 25 years of experience in craft beerI have helped dozens of breweries since 1990, starting with branding and label design. My experience widened to include new product development, and has progressed to brewery partner and top-level consultant.
4. Pioneer in eccentric styles and ingredientsI've long been a student of the extreme edges of beer and have been talking about styles like gose since the early 1990s. Over time I have developed a working knowledge of a huge range of exotic ingredients, along with a number of unique tools and approaches to incorporating them into commercially successful beers in delicious, meaningful ways.
5. Current, hands-on brewery experienceMy current involvement as a partner in two breweries gives me valuable perspective, helping me to stay on top of the rapidly changing market, as well as proven practical experience creating strong, unique concepts that get customers and trade partners excited.
6. Beer experience in developing craft marketsI've traveled professionally to many parts of the world where craft beer is just starting to take hold, and so have insight into markets at a less mature state than in the US. For clients outside the US, I can combine the two perspectives to help you figure out what's next.
A Brand Concept Checklist
You likely have some of the parts and pieces of your story already thought out, or have a number of possibilities to choose from. Before any design work is done, it’s often necessary to put some work in to the story. Here’s a checklist of some things to think about:
Is it unique? This seems pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how many me-too brands there are, even in the wonderland of creativity that is craft beer.
Is it interesting? Another pretty obvious requirement, and moving target. It’s important to keep in mind that the very idea of craft beer was once revolutionary, and today it’s just another happy fact of life in most places. The name of the local creek is a pretty trite choice for a beern name these days, but the crazy old settler who lived in a hollow tree on its banks may be just the ticket.
Is it coherent? As you work on a brand idea, it’s easy to clump various ideas together into a wad that makes sense to you and your partners, but may be confusing to outsiders. Maybe the name goes one direction, the location or community in another and the beers onto a third track. This is pretty common, but it’s impossible to do a compelling execution if the parts of the story fight with each other. The ideal is a great story that ties everything together.
Is it sufficiently rich? Sit down and brainstorm a dozen beers based on your brand idea. Is it easy? Do they flow naturally from your concept? The best brand ideas are an inexhaustible font of ideas for beers, brand extensions and promotion. A limited concept will be painfully obvious. To fix, it may just a matter of widening out a narrow concept to find a broader meaning, or removing a part of the idea that’s a forced fit.
Is it true, or at least true-ish? You may have a great story, but if it’s unrelated to the nature of the company and the people behind it, the results will seem false and hollow. Today’s consumers are highly sensitive to fakery—it’s best not to test their limits. Even total fantasies can have a ring of truth about them when they come from a deep and sincere place. Like Peter Pan says, it’s all about believing. If you don’t deeply believe your story, how can you expect anyone else to buy it?
Does it feel comfortable in its home? Some brands are a very direct expression of their environments, or terroir, as the wine folks would say. It’s one way to go, but beer is so much about culture, choices and personality, that there are far more choices available than geography, and a “place” can be very much about the mind, and needn’t even be in the present tense. A great story can even transport people to a different place, and break them out of their normal habitual behavior.
How does it relate to beer? Without the packaging and other branding, the naked beer in the glass will have to carry the concept. Can you taste the story? Are there things in your story that change the way the beers are formulated and brewed? Would another brewery brew the same beer?