This blog post was written by Michael Stodola, Brand Manager, Lakefront Brewery
A little over 30 years ago, two brothers in Milwaukee began competing against each other to home brew the best beer. Soon they were competing against other home brewers. And soon, they were winning. After friends inspired them to open a brewery, they did so. But instead of starting with a big bank loan and shiny, new fermenters to make a big bang into the market, they asked themselves how small can we start our brewery?
Russ and Jim Klisch were pragmatists. And 30 years later, Russ still runs his brewery in a steady, evenly stepped-pace. The goal is not bigness. The goal is not cashing out. The goal is clean, true-to-style beer. And that’s what makes Lakefront Brewery’s “regular guy” brand so true.
What’s at the heart and soul of your brewery? What’s the goal? What’s the point of rising with the sun and sleeping when you’re dead? It certainly isn’t the same goal for all. Whatever it may be, it should be worn on your sleeve and felt by your customers – because the market is a very confusing place these days.
One of the most interesting phenomenon happening in craft today is the growing chasm between the freshly-opened microbrewery and the giants in the business. Giants like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada are playing in the macro space. They’re independent, but they certainly don’t seem the same as Revolution or Odell. The lines are blurring within independent craft itself, not to mention, between independent craft and those bought up or manufactured by the big boys.
The development of the Brewer’s Association “Independent Craft” logo is completely understandable – and an excellent idea. But diversity and density is changing the landscape. There are plenty of brewery’s that opened well after our brewery that have ballooned in size well beyond us. And yet more that have opened and then closed. The size or speed of growth is not really important, but the intent of any brewery needs to be a clearly defined concept within the minds of the internal staff and stakeholders.
Intent and the healthy expression of a unique brand is fundamental.
After all, it’s at the core of independence itself to grow, change, not change or whatever at your own speed and style. We have attempted to sum up our speed and style in our latest Brand Anthem video. It’s the focus and economy of any successful brand to live in a narrow space. To be able to “elevator speech it” is an important quality. Who are you and how do you express that to fans? And yes, I mean “who” and not “what.” Your company is a who and needs to be thought of in those terms.
It’s the law of attraction to be the best self you can be regardless of outside opinion.
So, who is your brewery? Who do you want to be? At Lakefront, we’ve been able to define that persona and it continues to give us direction in every aspect of our every day. I believe you can see it in other successful craft brands too. Bloggers write about it, fans taste it and hopefully the casual consumer can glean that spirit from off the shelves. So, as the Avett Brothers have written, “Decide what to be and go be it.”
Don’t miss your chance to see all that Lakefront Brewery has to offer. Not only will they be onsite at the conference to share insider information on the beer industry in Milwaukee and Wisconsin but they will also be a part of Live Beer Blogging AND hosting a special reception for attendees at the brewery on Saturday night.