What to consider when marketing for beer and spirits brands?

By August 15, 2018 Insight Hub No Comments

Promoting a beer or spirits brand presents a unique challenge. There are a number of factors that go into creating campaigns that will resonate with the target audience and accurately convey the message.

Think about the last time you walked into a liquor store. There are thousands of choices for any given type of liquor. If you’re shopping for a good whiskey to bring to a friend’s house, how many times have you looked at every whiskey brand before making a choice? Likely never.


Branding. You know the name. You’ve had it before or maybe a friend recommended a brand. Did you pick up Jack Daniels? No surprise there. Jack Daniels has sold over $3 billion worth of whiskey every year since 2014.

The reason you picked up the brand you did was likely due to taste and preference from past experience. Or it was a recommendation from a trusted source; friends, family, coworkers, etc.

Long-standing brands, regardless of category, have resounding effects on consumers. Budweiser, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Beringer, etc. These brands existed before most millenials’ grandparents were born.

How can new or struggling entrants compete with the iconic brands?

Fighting centuries of history and branding is no easy task. Keep in mind, even the established brands have adopted their strategy and product lines to fulfill demand in new categories. Carving out a niche is essential in marketing an alcohol brand with little or no acclaim.

Design an Eye-Catching Logo/Label

With thousands of varieties gleaming in the eyes of a potential customer, if the branding of the label and bottle do not stand out, they’ll never buy it.

The most common approach is to own a color. Jack Daniels has black. Budweiser is white and red. If red, blue, green, orange, yellow and black are taken in the segment, is purple a good choice? Or perhaps a distinct variation of the main colors in the spectrum.

Then, use your unique selling proposition to guide the logo design.

Is the brand going to ignite the “party animal” in the end user?
Will the brand be sipped only during special occasions?
Does consuming the brand elicit a special message about the person drinking it?
Should the end user evoke a certain memory or create a new one?

To elicit luxury for example, simplistic logo design accompanied by sleek and modern typography will represent a higher caliber alcohol.

For a brand focusing on the “party animal,” using an impactful color palette along with a logo that dictates fun or excitement is much more likely to drive the appropriate set of eyes to your brand’s spot on the shelf.

The craft beer market is another perfect example of small brands trying to attract new consumers. Artwork done by professional artists and graphic designers adorn thousands of varieties of beer as each attempts to capture a new audience. Vibrant colors and fonts adorn 16oz cans rather than the traditional branding of Budweiser and others’ 12oz cans. Which stands out?

As with any marketing campaign, knowing your target audience first is fundamental to the long term success of the brand. The logo or label is often the first thing your audience will see and you only get one take on a first impression.

Sculpt a Distinct Bottle Design

If you’ve purchased alcohol recently, you’ve seen new bottle designs appear as brands recognize bottles as an important marketing tool. Face it, your brand is fighting for position in a saturated market. Stunning visual cues will put more eyes on your product.

Even beer, predominantly sold in 12oz cans and bottles that haven’t changed in decades, is starting to see new designs to differentiate themselves. Label and logo refreshes have been common among the popular beer brands.

Jack Daniels has been using their signature square bottle since 1897. The purpose of the design was to convey fairness and integrity in an already flooded market of traditional round-bottled whiskey products.

Tequila Patrón uses their characteristic short and wide bottle with a cork seal rather than a traditional twist off cap.

What bottle design will your brand use to differentiate itself from the masses? Don’t rush to the drawing board yet.
Define the Identity of Your Alcohol Brand

Using a macro approach as you browse through current and past marketing campaigns of alcohol brands, you’ll find a common theme. Many campaigns focus on the experience the consumer will have when purchasing the product.

Going back to the brand’s unique selling proposition, how does a brand create a connection memorable enough to influence a decision that may not occur for days or weeks after connecting with a marketing campaign?

Create unique content that resonates with the target audience. If the brand is looking to capture the inner “party animal,” the creative and marketing teams need to research how these consumers interact with the brands they’re already familiar with. What influenced them to consume it? Was there a celebrity endorsement? Or a hilarious TV commercial?

Fundamentally, marketers of alcohol brands need to research what is influencing their audience to purchase. Look outside of alcohol brands. What brand of shoes stands out among this group? Do they drive domestic or imported cars? Economy, luxury, or sports cars?

The result of comprehensive research around your target audience will give your brand the insights to power an impactful marketing campaign. Whether you are an emerging brand or one that is in need of a refresh, the first step is to define and research your target audience.

What’s Next?

At this point, the creative and marketing teams can dig in and execute a proper marketing campaign catered specifically the defined audience.

Differentiate your brand by creating a distinct logo/label and bottle design. This bridges the gap between the first point of contact, whether it be an advertisement or recommendation, and the moment the potential consumer looks at the shelf inside the liquor store and sees your brand.

When you combine great branding with thoroughly-researched marketing campaigns, your alcohol brand may just be the next “David” to the competitors’ Goliath.”