I love Brewdog. I enjoy their beers, sure, but generally I am in the ‘wine’ camp (if we have to assemble the human species into drinking camps, which I hope we never have to do).
Anyway, my love for Brewdog goes beyond it’s beers, nice labels and fantastic pubs. Brewdog has just released all its recipes, so that home brewers can make versions of Brewdog beers. “We wanted to take all of our recipes, every single last one, and give them all away for free, to the amazing global home-brewing community.” Wowzers.
What I love about Brewdog AND EVEN MORE SO NOW is they are one of those few brands who does that thing all brands are meant to do: ACTUALLY DOES WHAT IT SAYS IT DOES. They live their values. They have such a clear identity. And their communications, which are awesome, sound like a real person, a real brewing dog, talking.
Listen to their head of marketing, Sarah Warman, speak to Marketing Week about the news:
“Warman added that the company is not worried about its competitors stealing its recipes due to BrewDog’s unique brewing abilities and strong brand reputation.
She explained: “If anyone can replicate the beers and do it as well as us, then good luck to them. They’re not going to manage. The versions we have released are scaled down to home brewing recipes, so it’s slightly different if you’re brewing them on a bigger scale.
“If someone wants to give that a bash then they’re more than welcome to, but they obviously don’t have the reputation behind them or the balls to release their own recipes in the first place, so they probably won’t do as well as we have out of it.””
This is from their blog post announcing the recipe release:
“Oh, and if you are from one of the global beer mega corporations and you are reading this, your computer will spontaneously combust, James Bond style, any second now. So leave the building immediately and seriously consider your life choices.”
And here’s their founder in the slightly more formal (?) press release:
“So here it is. The keys to our kingdom. Every single BrewDog recipe, ever. So copy them, tear them to pieces, bastardise them, adapt them, but most of all, enjoy them!”
This is a brand who knows what it is about.
There’s something about this confidence that I absolutely love, and I know a lot of people won’t. But in this age of beige, THAT’S OK. I know marketing directors who say their audience is “everyone” and each one of them was completely wrong. Brewdog definitely knows its audience, and it isn’t everyone. (Yeah, I said I’m not a big beer fan – but I know which brand I choose when I’m in the mood for one.) It identifies them, finds them, and speaks to them directly.
Copywriter geek bit: I always say that ‘tone of voice’ is the thing that, when a brand nails it, tends to capture the whole ‘MISSION’ thing. Once you know ‘who you are’ (what do you do and why do you do it) internally, the only way you can truly get this across to customers and the world at large is to speak in the right way. Innocent gets it. So do a few other brands who are actively sought out on social media and (horribly overused word) ENGAGED with online. Brewdog is another terrific example.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to hear, and then meet, the legendary Jeff Jarvis at a marketing conference. I wrote a post about it on my old blog. Anyway, one of Jeff’s views, as he shares in his great book Public Parts, is that brands need to share more. (The subtitle to the book is “How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live” so that probably clues you in as to where Jarvis stands.) Like people, he argues, brands shouldn’t be scared to put stuff in the public domain, especially in a world where everything is public eventually anyway. I am paraphrasing hugely (sorry Jeff) but what I took away from it was this: if you aren’t confident enough to share your recipe, or your blueprints, or your design ideas – particularly, sharing them with a community who can feed back and help you improve – then WTF dude. Get on it.
As Warman implies, it’s not sharing the recipes that takes balls. Creating them in the first place, starting the business, building the community, not being afraid to speak frankly and be a bold brand – that’s what takes balls.
Sharing their ‘secrets’ is clever, amazing, exciting… and, for a company as confident in its identity as Brewdog, completely on-brand.