You can’t grow an iconic brand by copying everyone else. And you definitely can’t out-advertise or out-market the big guys. Growing a sticky brand requires ingenuity and a commitment to carve out your own path.
Beau’s Brewery is a young, upstart brand that’s making waves in the Ontario beer industry. In less than 6 years they’ve grown from a startup into one of the most innovative craft brewers in Canada. They’re winning awards every season, their beers are served in the who’s who of restaurants and pubs, and they have retail sales across Ontario.
And all of this innovation is originating from Vankleek Hill, a small rural town outside of Ottawa. The town has 1,800 people, 2,000 cows and one brewery.
The picturesque town and surrounding area is the source of inspiration for Beau’s brand identity, and how they are differentiating themselves from the goliaths in their industry.
Symbols tell a story
Anheuser-Busch is ranked as the 22nd largest advertiser in the United States according to the Ad Age Data Center. Their ad budget was over $1.36 billion last year.
It’s startling to think Beau’s Brewery can even run up against companies like Anheuser-Busch, but Beau’s is standing out by embracing their rural roots. Their tagline is “All Natural Brewing Company”, and they accentuate their positioning by focusing on the imagery and experiences of small town farming.
The family farm is a classic symbol for natural, wholesome and pure products. Just check out the dairy aisle in your grocery store, and you’ll find the milk and butter brands primarily showcase images of a turn of the century farm with a barn, a silo and maybe a cow or two.
Beau’s brand identity builds off a similar set of imagery: farms, hay and farm equipment. For example, their logo features a tractor.
The brand imagery works brilliantly, because it builds upon a storyline consumers already know: the family farm is natural, and natural tastes better. Beau’s is employing smart, cost-effective storytelling.
Use the resources around you
To find the imagery for their packaging and identity system, Beau’s team scoured their landscape. They took pictures of tractors, barns and farming equipment. They looked for inspiration in the scenes they come across every day.
The image of the tractor resonated with Beau’s management team, and Jordan Bamforth, their Creative Director and Designer, developed it into the core imagery for the brand. Jordan explains, “The small tractor represents the idea of a family run business or a family farm, and it speaks to the agricultural quality of the Ottawa Valley and Vankleek Hill area.”
Beau’s continues the farm theme in their events. Their booths and displays look more like a farmer’s market stall. They use copious amounts of hay bales and barn board to evoke an authentic experience that links their products with the rural landscape.
Beau’s brings the country to the city, and this creates an association of a company that is challenging conventions and approaching the beer experience from a unique angle.
You can’t have a great brand without a great product
Beau’s branding does a great job building their name and drawing in first time customers. But all the imagery and events in the world are nothing if customers don’t come back and buy again-and-again.
The secret to Beau’s success is in their products. Their flagship beer, Lug Tread, is the foundation of their brand. People who try it come back and buy it again. And Beau’s compliments Lug Tread with seasonal beers that showcase the talents and ingenuity of their company.
It’s a balancing act. A great product with lousy marketing will fail, because no one will try it. And great marketing with a lousy product will fail, because no one will buy it again. You’ve got to innovate and deliver perceived value on all aspects of your brand.
Beau’s Brewery has found the right balance. A good product with innovative marketing, and brand positioning they can own and protect.