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Hoptown Handles American Made Tap Handles


A Practical Guide to Staying on Brand

Over time and as businesses grow it can be difficult to maintain the brand you are known for. When your brewery started it was likely you and a handful of friends who ended up being your first employees. Early on the group is small, passion runs strong, and your brand is easy - it’s you.


Some of you may have invested in a brand consultant to work through and document your brand, your mission, vision, and values. I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in brand workshops and I think they are a valuable exercise to gain consensus for the handful who participate. The mission, vision, and values are framed or, better yet painted, on the wall and too often the brand work ends there.


As time goes, responsibilities and distractions grow. It can be difficult to know if you are keeping to your brand. It’s easy to be overrun by donation opportunities: wouldn’t it be helpful to short list them by which ones add to your brand? You’re looking to add some new gear to your store: what items could you sell which add to your brand? You’re building out a new patio: what fixtures could add to your brand experience?


A tool I suggest is to boil your brand down to 2 or 3 words, and “quality” can’t be one on them - good beer is assumed. For example: Music, Funky, Colorado. It’s easy to remember a few words and when you’re stuck in indecision, just think, does this work with “_______, _______, or _______?”

Even more useful is for people outside the core team to keep your 3 words in their mind. This allows you to delegate and trust things will get done on brand. And if they’re not on brand, it makes the conversation easier because you can have a discussion about how someone thought having a 8ft pink statue of liberty in the tap room related to any of your 3 words.

Graphic design with BEER in mind.
Brand Elixir Partnership Beverage Brand Agency

Contributing Author

Erik Cox                                                                 Owner, Wise Ape


I work to help companies own their brands and hit their objectives with smart creative that’s just as functional as it is aesthetic.  As a partner in a San Francisco design and business strategy firm, I’ve worked with startups, consulting firms, and multinational corporations. That inspired me to launch WISE APE so I could work with small businesses I love.  


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BRANDING & graphic design

  • Brand Discovery Research

  • Competitor Research

  • Identify Target Audience

  • Understand Creative Presence

  • Consider Deliverable Dates

  • Review Graphic Artists

PR & advertising

  • Tell Your Story

  • Curate a Media List

  • Write a Boilerplate

  • Create an Electronic Press Kit

  • Identify Niche Ad Platforms

WEB & Content marketing

  • Understand Web Presence

  • Evaluate Cost vs. Complexity

  • Consider Deliverable Dates

  • Review Web Designers

  • Refer to Branding

  • Write a Content Calendar


BRANDING & graphic design

  • Create Brand Voice

  • Write Brand Message

  • Create Brand Materials

  • Signage

  • Marketing/Ad Collateral

  • Packaging Design

  • Merchandise Design


PR & advertising

  • Reach out to Press Contacts

  • Introduce Yourself to your Local Visitors Association

  • Draft a Press Release

  • Schedule Advertising

WEB & Content marketing

  • Initial Web Platform Build

  • Set up Purchasing/Online Ordering

  • Schedule Website Maintenance

  • Start Posting per Content Calendar

  • Document Everything!


PR & advertising

  • Announce your Opening

  • Sample the Media on your Beer! 

  • Advertise your Opening

WEB & Content marketing

  • Announce your Opening on your Website

  • Ask for User Generated Content 

  • Use Actual Product for Campaign

Grow Graph



BRANDING & graphic design

  • Reevaluate Brand Strategy

  • Update Brand Identity

  • Increase Brand Messaging

  • Marketing/Advertising Collateral

  • Signage Upgrades

  • Additional Packaging Design

  • New Merchandise Design


PR & advertising

  • Maintain Relationships

  • Build Momentum

  • Get Creative

  • Increase Advertising Reach


WEB & Content marketing

  • Website Upgrades/Changes

  • Content Management

  • Schedule Website Maintenance 

  • Execute Long Term Projects

  • Watch Ongoing Analytics

  • Further Develop Email List

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