By Clare Goggin Sivits On March 15, 2024

What’s in a Distillery Brand Strategy?

When it comes to your spirits and distillery, you know your brand’s story. You know how the business started, the story behind the name, where the ingredients came from, and even why you chose to craft the products in your portfolio. Who doesn’t know that brand story? The customer. It’s your distillery’s job to share the story. But first, you need to get it straight – with a brand strategy.

A brand strategy acts as a foundation for all your distillery’s alcohol branding and liquor marketing efforts. It’s the central resource for all the details that make your distillery what it is. The guide lets anyone representing your brand learn everything they need to know to carry out a campaign or event in your distillery’s name.

As an alcohol branding agency, we’ve helped distilleries and other craft beverage companies build a strategy that fully embodies the brand and its story from start to finish. Delivering a guide that truly steers every move your company makes may feel intimidating but we can help you hit all the right notes.

Whether it’s the values that your brand engenders, the voice and tone your brand conveys or where and how your brand shows up, it needs to be in your brand strategy. What else needs to be in there? Scroll on to get the details on everything you should find in a well-designed strategy.

Brand Story

Start at the beginning. The story behind your brand needs to kick off your strategy and offer a reason for being. Through the brand story, you get the opportunity to connect with your audience on an emotional level so make sure it’s on paper for everyone communicating with your customers. Briefly offer the why and what behind your business. Include the inspiration behind your distillery as well as important dates and names. It should be a primer for anyone ahead of planning any brand-related activities.

While your story may include the mission and purpose that propel your brand forward, you should delve into that further as part of the strategy. Lay out the values that keep you going as a way to point your team toward the right activations and campaigns.

And once you’ve set up the why, outline the what. Share more about what your brand is bringing to the table. That’s not just the products you’re delivering but the benefits of being a customer, such as community, convenience or education. All of these provide selling points for both your products and your brand and should be incorporated into all your messaging.

Brand Identity

Who is your brand? It’s a question you and your team must answer before communicating with an audience. It helps build an authentic voice and identity that customers will relate to and connect with. Brand archetypes are an effective method for determining that identity. A map of characters allows you to find real-world examples of how your brand looks, feels and sounds. Whether it’s the explorer, the everyman, the creator, the hero or any of the 12 categories, there’s a whole backstory for you to build on. More than likely, your brand combines two or three to give you a unique blend of characters to work with.

Once the brand’s identity has been established, you’ll want to dive into the brand pillars or the guiding principles behind your company. These are characteristics that set the brand apart from competitors. The pillars incorporate core values, differentiators and unique attributes to the brand and its products.

As you move to communicate all of the above to your audience, you’ll need to understand the persona the brand embodies. That’s why you’ll need to define that persona right here. Give it a little personality and some character – all based in the guidelines you’ve already described.

Visual Identity

Set the mood. Evoke the look and feel of your brand through a mood board that blends together images and visuals that represent how it feels to be a customer of your distillery. Done well, your team will immediately be familiar with the way your brand should appear in marketing and branding visuals and set the stage for any upcoming designs.

Before closing the curtain on the visual identity section of your brand strategy, provide direction on the logo, color palette, typography and design patterns. This may include the where and how to use the logo and wordmark for your brand while also identifying primary colors and typography. A master pattern should also be showcased for designers. We’ve used these types of guidelines in our role as a packaging design agency.

The Market

Now that you know the brand story, who the brand is and what it looks like, get to know who you’re talking to. A little research can help you identify who the most likely customers of your brand are. Break it down by demographics and ages. The target markets may cut across generational lines, such as Gen Z or Millenials, or may spread across interest groups, like food and beverage enthusiasts. Whoever they are, tell their stories here.

Along with those audience stories, share the values and goals they are motivated by – and what might make them relate to your brand. What do they truly cherish that they might find in your brand? Then find them: where do these people spend their time? Are they watching a certain category of TV or do they spend a lot of time on a particular social media platform? Answer the question here.

Marketing Applications

With any marketing application, your team needs direction on visual and content strategy. Outline that here. Provide a north star for the aesthetic of any activation or campaign with visual guides and descriptions. Meanwhile, lay out the strategy for the type of content the brand will generate to reach its audience with messaging and stories that resonate. With this direction on hand, any upcoming marketing application will have a solid place to start.

Get into a bit more detail on those emotions you’re trying to evoke and the senses you want to trigger in your audience. Define how your brand will come across in every application and where it will hit people in their hearts and minds.

Brand Applications

Finally, give your team a sense of how your brand will appear in the wild. This could be the way your brand shows up in merchandise, at the bar or through events. The brand application section of your brand strategy can simply be a fully visual section that shows real world examples of your brand.

If you’re having trouble imagining how your brand will appear in the real world – or where to begin with a brand strategy, give us a call. We can make it incredibly easy for you.

Clare Goggin Sivits

As a marketer with a strong writing background, Clare Goggin Sivits has worked in the beer, spirits, and wine industries for nearly a decade. She oversaw digital marketing for a small wine startup as well as a craft brewery and distillery with a nationwide footprint. A Florida ex-pat, Clare now lives in Portland, Oregon, and continues to write about craft beverage marketing and the industry as a whole.

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