Drunken Speculation

What’s in a Name? Or, Marketing 101

SuccessI was recently having drinks with a mate I hadn’t seen in a long time and while we waited for a third friend to join us, more than two hours later, our conversation verged off on a variety of tangents to that point in the night where you confess your dream of being the future owner/operator of a Baklava and Balaclava store in Balaclava, Victoria.

Completely crazy idea? Yeah probably, but it got me thinking about names and branding and how important these aspects are to creating an attractive and recognisable product. Essentially, a good name for your product can set you up for marketing success and being a regular and repeat offender of choosing my beers at the bottle-o based purely on the name and/or the labelling, I feel I can attest to this.

Even as I reminisce about my night out, waiting for Kenyan Rob (who professes he’s on ‘Kenyan time’) to show up at The Local Taphouse in Saint Kilda East, I remember choosing my beers that night on a combination (in order of the importance placed on each in the decision-making process) of the following: name, brand/brewery, style, price.

Invariably the name immediately sends consumers a message whether it’s inherently about you (the producer), what the product is, or perhaps it enhances curiosity about either of these two things.

So, what elements make a good beer name? While including the style of a beer in the name lets customers know exactly what they’re drinking and is a good starting point, it is perhaps one of the least creative, ‘easy-way-out’ options.

Recently having returned from attending the GABS festival in Melbourne (in case you didn’t see our umpteen other posts on the subject), I’ve realised a number of beers I would’ve liked to have tried but didn’t possibly because I didn’t give them a second glance due to their less-than-inspiring, less-than-standout names. Having now read the tasting notes for Brooklyn Brewery’s Grand Cru, I wish I’d given it a try [Ed: we actually did try Grand Cru] but the name Grand Cru is everywhere these days, has somewhat lost all relevance, and immediately sent my eyes rolling into the back of my head. Similarly, the tasting notes for the Imperial Red Ale from Cheeky Monkey in Western Australia describe three of my favourite things in beer: hoppy, bitter and malty – and yet I failed to read them after seeing the name against so many more interesting ones in the list.

Simply naming the product what it is isn’t likely to get you very far these days, particularly in the craft brewing industry where one of the key demographics is the notoriously astute and discerning hipster (even if only ever self-proclaimed). In today’s world, it’s also necessary to differentiate oneself from one’s peers.

If you’ve already got a well-respected brand behind you this is easy to do: just tack your brewing company’s name onto the style of beer and you’ll probably do more than okay in the sales department. For the rest of us though, it’s hard slug. Naming a product becomes less about brand recognition and more about being a successful con-artist. It’s about piquing consumer interest enough to merit further investigation.

One beer at GABS that did this really well was Intravenous Elixir. Put this together with the name of the brewery, Doctor’s Orders Brewing, (who, despite being from NSW, I’d never heard of) and you have yourself a winner. Needless to say, I read the tasting notes which only served to seal the deal.

And while we’re on the subject, it’s also got me thinking about our own name and branding issues with the blog. Both Liam and I have misgivings about the name of our blog and have had numerous discussions on the issue. (Liam came up with the current name so you can blame him for what I call ‘condoning the irresponsible consumption of alcohol’ by virtue of the using the word ‘drunken’). Alas, we were young and naive when we started this blog a mere 6 months ago and are willing to learn from our mistakes so perhaps a possible future re-branding is on the cards.

In my opinion, there’s not a single road to naming and marketing success but a little bit of creativity can go a long way… if used appropriately – just make sure your product doesn’t look like Hitler.

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