Crafting a Strong Brand

In this episode we dive into the world of branding within Irish craft beer and hear from some of Ireland’s leading breweries that are known for their eye-catching brand and personalities to learn more about the aspects involved in creating a really strong brand.

Host, International Beer judge and beer writer Susan Boyle is joined by Peter Mosely, Porterhouse Brewing Company; Vivienne Lucey, Lineman and Joe Donnelly, Rascals Brewing for this conversation.

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From tongue-in-cheek, to family inspiration and even heritage, it is clear that no craft beers look, feel or even taste the same! Craft breweries pay great care and attention into capturing their very essence in a visual and communicative format to convey their story and entice consumers to enjoy their unique beers.


We have gathered the most important things to consider when crafting a strong brand:

  • Naming: The starting point – what will the name be? All guests cited the difficulty of coming up with a name, and that this is a recurring issue when introducing new beers. Especially when originality is front of mind, however all agreed that once it is accepted that names will likely be out there already in some guise or another that it takes the pressure off from having something 100% new. Joe Donnelly, Rascals Brewing said I stopped looking online to see does it exist elsewhere” as the likelihood of finding something similar is high. Vivienne Lucey, Lineman added that if something does pre-exist “usually it's just by some random really small American Brewery”


  • Inspiration: For some breweries, the name and inspiration for the brewery’s brand and identity comes from matters close to the heart. One such brewery is Lineman, from Rathcoole, Co. Dublin. Speaking about the brand, co-founder Vivienne Lucey Lineman brewery said, It was a tribute to my late dad and his early career as a as a lineman in the ESB and P&T in the 40s and 50s. So I was really touched by that. I wanted to go for a really balanced and clean logo. And I chose the colours black and white, because you know, colour, it conveys an emotion and white is cleanliness and goodness, and black is elegance and sophistication. So those two things work together. And then I have quite a long linear typography on the cans, kind of very abstractly representing telegraph poles. That's my thought process


  • Authenticity: Sticking to your brewery’s style was a prominent point of conversation in this episode. One segment looked at how this impacts with fluctuating beer trends. Peter Mosley, Porterhouse Brewing Company said, you have all these very transient beer styles that appear one day, and they're gone the next. I think we've all seen those come and go so it is a bit of a difficult thing to keep those beers in the in the mind of the customer because after a week or two they've gone and it's now on to something else”.


However, sometimes the limited edition beers can exceed all expectations with Joe Donnelly, Rascals Brewing saying “the Rock Shandy Pale Ale has become almost a core beer for us. And I mean, I think that's extremely faddish and novelty. But, you know, we're extremely proud of it. And it's worked really, really well for us. And it's been a massive help to the company in a very difficult time. And so that meant that, you know, that stayed all year.”

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  • Staying relevant: New breweries have the benefit when launching of being the ‘hot, new thing’ but when looking at a brewery’s longevity it is important to consider how to maintain relevance as your key consumer cohorts age with the brand, and how to entice younger consumers to try the beers on offer. Peter Mosley, Porterhouse Brewing Company added his two cents: “In some ways, I think it works against us a little bit, because we've been on the high streets so long that we're part and parcel of what people see and expect (from the craft beer sector). And when we first started, it was 1996, so we're very much seen as part of the establishment. But we have a younger team coming through and trying to make sure the new beers and styles we are producing are more contemporary and (sic) they're matching what people's expectations are. Beer styles have changed tremendously in the last few years.”


  • Formats: Bottles, can, draught? Knowing what formats and where you want to sell your beer is also key. While beer and draught have always been the preferred routes to market, cans have exploded in popularity in the last few years for a variety of reasons. Speaking about this transition, Peter Mosley, Porterhouse Brewing Company saidI would have always thought historically that the only thing that should be in a can is baked beans, and beer wouldn't be one of them. And it's the way that people have accepted the idea that you can have beer in cans, and it's still being something that's a quality product”. From a production perspective there are key benefits to canning for breweries, with Joe Donnelly, Rascals Brewing commenting “Well cans are great, you can recycle a can in eight weeks from an old can to new can,(and so) aluminium is really friendly, I would have thought in terms of sustainability”. Vivienne Lucey, Lineman added that cans are “lighter for shipping” and so they are a friendlier choice for wholesale and direct-to-consumer sales which is a win-win for breweries. Speaking about the lifestyle changes of consumers to Vivienne said “(for) a lot of people living in apartments, they don't particularly want to have a stack of bottles that I have to bring to the recycling centre, whereas they can just take the aluminium can put it in their bin. That works”


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