This is one of my articles on starting your business, from my column on HotFrog. You can see them all here.
I love brands that do something different, that stand out from the crowd and that redefine their market along the way. I’m fascinated by how these brands build a huge following of people who love what they do, who tell their friends all about the products and get involved in helping the company to grow. One brand that has done an amazing job of cultivating a community around its brand and of creating a lot of buzz about its products is Brewdog.
Based in Aberdeen in the North of Scotland, Brewdog is the biggest independent brewery in the country. Set up by two guys who I have had the pleasure of meeting, James Watt and Martin Dickie, Brewdog produces an award-winning range of beers, stouts and ales in their own brewery.
The Brewdog guys set out to transform the world of beer by replacing the bland and boring mass market international brands with flavorsome products, packaged differently and marketed in a really fun way. The company started out with the founders producing a few barrels of beer at a time with their own hands, to now being a multi-million pound brand stocked in major supermarkets and sold all around the world. Its success has been down to building a brand that stands out against the competition.
In a world of craft beer brands with pictures of Anchors on their labels and names like “Steam Boat” and “Badger”, Brewdog has given its beers quirky, sometimes even controversial, names like “Punk IPA”, “Tokyo” and “Sink the Bismarck”. Their products definitely stand out on the shelves and their drinkers are attracted to a brand that stands up for what it believes in.
James and Martin produce hilarious and edgy videos that are watched by hundreds of thousands of people on YouTube. They’ve courted controversy more than once. Like when they produced the world’s strongest (and most expensive) beer; 55 percent alcohol and priced at $700 a bottle, with the option of being packaged inside either a dead squirrel or a stoat.
Amongst all of these quirky marketing ideas, probably the thing that I’ve found most inspiring has been their decision to hold Europe’s first ever internet-only IPO. By selling shares in their company to the public, Brewdog invited thousands of their drinkers to own a part of the brand they love. And, in doing so, not only have they raised around $ 1,000,000 to help build a new eco-brewery and open their own chain of pubs, they have recruited a couple of thousand dedicated fans to the team.
Their group of shareholders is really passionate about the company’s products and, of course, wants to see the business succeed and grow. Brewdog plans to get this community involved in coming up with new ideas and encouraging new bars and shops to stock their beers.
I’m sure you can imagine the power of getting the people who buy your products to have more of an involvement in the running of your company. In your business, you could invite them to suggest new ideas for products or outlets for your brand. The more you involve your customers in developing your business, the more they feel it is theirs too.
Brewdog is reinventing the world of beer by being different, standing up for what they believe in and involving the people who drink their beer in helping the company to grow. If you can do the same in your market, you are bound to succeed.