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For a small brewery or distillery, your brand story is critical to your ability to capture customers and excite your employees.

When I first meet with a startup brewery or distillery client, one of the first messages I try to convey is that the “quality of the liquid” is only the price of admission to the beverage industry. In a market that has experienced exponential growth on the supply side over the last 15 years, the taste, consistency, and quality of the adult beverage is only a small part of the equation.

The other parts of the equation includes the brand story of your distillery or brewery, and how that story is communicated and managed. A “brand story” is the narrative that encompasses the emotions and facts that are created by your brand or business. You brand story is used as a marketing and advertising tool to connect and inspire potential clients.

Many founders erroneously think the company’s brand story is the story of how the founder started brewing beer or distilling spirits. And while this may be part of the company’s brand story, in and of itself, it is not the entire brand story.

The purpose of the brand story is to attract attention from—and speak to the emotions of—consumers. A brand story needs to be authentic and compelling. Taking a cue from Simon Sinek, I tell early stage breweries and distilleries to focus on their why. By getting into words the story of why you are brewing beer or distilling spirits, you will then become to frame out the brand story.

This is a process that needs to be well-planned. Being a great storyteller is important to your brand.  Focusing on developing the details is just as important as delivering them.

When telling the story, make sure you focus not only on the sunshine, but also on the hardship. What obstacles did you face while trying to develop your dream? How many times were you told ‘no’? What did you do to overcome? Were your friends and family your original fans that kept pushing you along?  Was your community there to lift you up? People are moved by not only shared hardships, but stories of survivors that have overcome those hardships.

While developing your brand story, it is important to remember that it needs to fit with the stories your target consumers tell about themselves. Your story should make them feel like they are a part of what you are offering.

The Story Telling Edge explains that our brains are hardwired to be pulled into good stories. If your brand story can develop a narrative that your target consumer is interested in, chances are you will be able to gain a client or customer. A great story will make a customer want to spend money with a business. People want to feel a connection to who they support, and they want to be behind someone or something that makes them feel good. Creating a brand story that encourages your consumers to absorb it into their own personal narrative is key.

Once a company has built its brand story, it needs to ensure the story is being consistently told through all advertising and marketing channels. This includes telling your brand story through social media pages and by making sure individual team members are on the same point with the story. Educating your team on why you are in the business you are in will not only give them the proper tools to do their jobs, but will also allow them the opportunity to adopt your story and weave it into their own personal mission. When your team stands behind your brand story, others will follow suit.

If done correctly, you can weave your brand story into the fabric of your business, which will help to tell your story with each product sold. Consumers want to be a part of helping a small business succeed, and they can come to love brands that they relate to and engage with on a personal level. Developing a brand story that marries itself to the personal narrative of your team and your consumers will help you not only to grow as a business, but also to grow your community of passionate fans.

Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

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