I very recently hired my friend Kim Leshinski of Hail to the Ale fame to create the Alarmist Brewing brand. By "brand" I'm referring to more than just the logo, although that's a big piece of it and that will be Kim's primary focus during this iteration. The current logo was great as an identity to get out there, be seen, and help churn the waters for investors, banks, and future customers. It was always going to be a temporary logo and it has served its purpose well. My huge thanks goes out to Scott Olson who created it. Scott came up with the entire idea of the dynamite and the "Ka-boom" and those will both always be part of the Alarmist identity forever.
Alas, it's time to go far deeper into the identity of Alarmist Brewing. In order to do that, I have to provide Kim with a feel of what Panic is, where it's going to go, and how my personality will be a part of it. These and other intangibles will guide her as she creates the new Alarmist Brewing brand. That brand will find its way to beer cans, beer delivery trucks, tap handles, cans, shirts, hats, my scrotal tattoo, etc.
So I have homework to do for Kim and I decided that the homework would manifest itself as this blog post. Forgive me while I try to tease the Alarmist brand out of my head as I write this post. This could get interesting.
First, what does "brand" mean to me? Hmmmm. My corporate identity? Yes. The actual logo(s) and color palettes I'll be using for everything? Sure. But brand is much bigger than that. According to this site, brand means "the sum of all available information about a product, service or company". That's probably vastly over simplified, but I'm not a branding/marketing wonk, so that works for me for the purposes of this post.
And then there's something Kim and Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting like to talk about: "positioning". According to this site, brand positioning "enables a brand image and identity to instantly have meaning for consumers and differentiate it from competitor brands". I'm not sure that really captures the idea, but I suppose it's somewhere in the ballpark. Kim and Michael would also say that there's an emotional component of positioning as well. A connection that a person feels with a brand in a way that's most likely quite different than with any other.
Apple would definitely be that for me. I have a very strong emotional connection to Apple going back many years, well before the iMac even. We could go into that for hours (and debate it with Android lovers), but to me there's a very unique connection I feel with Apple that I have with no other brand of any kind. At the end of the day, it really comes down to the fact that I LOVE to use their products and I HATE using competitors products. There's an aesthetic, an elegance, and a simplicity that I find incredibly compelling with the MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad, Mac OS X, iOS, Apple TV, etc. And the way they all integrate together seals the deal for me.
So how does Alarmist Brewing fit into this insane world of craft beer? Can Alarmist carve out an identity as distinct and sought after as Apple, but in the craft beer world? There are so many brands, many very unique and distinct. How does Alarmist carve its slice in the craft brewing landscape? Perhaps I should start with Alarmist Brewing's purpose. If I were to distill down all of the things that I think Panic is or will be I think it would have to be this:
Alarmist Brewing is about bringing joy to people.
Probably not what you were thinking, eh? Me neither. I just thought of it myself. It's not just about making great tasting beer, but that's the most obvious way this "joy" would manifest (ok, it's a "mission statement", I just didn't want to sound all corporate buzzword bingo-y). We're also going to bring joy with humor and we're going to convey that humor through what we print on T-shirts, what we say during brewing tours, what we testify to during libel hearings, etc. I value humor in a person more than just about anything else and that will be a core part of the Alarmist Brewing DNA.
If I were to extend that "purpose statement", perhaps I would say:
Alarmist Brewing is about bringing joy to people by brewing delicious beer, fostering a hysterically funny and irreverent culture, and becoming an important part of the local/neighborhood/craft beer community.
Not bad. We can tweak that quite a bit, but it gets us in the ballpark. It is vitally important to note that although our culture will be irreverent (and antithetical to American corporate culture), no one will take beer flavor, quality, and consistency more seriously than Alarmist Brewing. That will also be part of our DNA from day one. We will constantly strive to iterate, iterate, and iterate to improve our recipes, processes, quality, and consistency for all of our beers at all times. Doesn't mean we can't have some fucking fun while we do it though.
Now it seems maybe the challenge for Kim is going to be how to meld this idea of joy, humor, dedication to the craft, and some fucking dynamite into a cohesive brand.
Glad I'm not the one doing it.