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We hosted our second annual Beer and Design event, an evening where Vancouver’s best in craft beer and design discussed how these two industries work together to create great products and memorable brand experiences.

The intersection between beer craft beer and technology might seem obscure, but the two industries pair quite well. Since 2010, the craft beer scene in Vancouver has exploded. With 31% of total craft breweries being less than a year-old in 2016  (Agriculture and Agri-food Canada), B.C’s beer is flowing and business is rapidly growing. Previously having no hold on the market, people are now looking to British Columbia as an industry trendsetter. That’s an exciting change for any single business to experience, let alone an entire region.  Not surprisingly the local beer boom pairs well with Vancouver’s growing tech industry, particularly when it comes to product design and marketing the brand behind the beer.

Beer and Design 2.0 - Beer Pool

Recognizing the unique partnership between beer and technology and in honour of the City’s 8th Annual Craft Beer Week, our Beer and Design night was filled with good company, great beer (thank you Main St. Brewing Co. & Postmark Brewing), and featured an all-star panel of experts from Vancouver’s craft beer industry. While the discussion happily revolved around beer, the importance of design and marketing for the success of a product was at the forefront. Panelists unanimously agreed that while the liquid is what keeps customers coming back for more, it is the marketing and design behind the beer that lands that crucial first sale. The evening left me with valuable insights and a brewing desire to hop into the world of beer. I won’t divulge all the industry secrets I learned but will share one key piece of knowledge from each panelist for those who missed out on this fantastic event.

“Doing the things you enjoy and hanging out with the people you love. Build a business around that.” – Steve Thorp, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Postmark Brewing

Steve believes there is no better way to do that than with beer. The business quickly bloomed after the the thought of, “We are west coast. We fish, we hike, we go camping, so let’s build a beer around that”. A key component of design is building something that will speak to consumers, and Postmark Brewery has done that well. They established themselves as a leading craft beer brand in B.C by creating a quality product with a design strategy that speaks to a lifestyle. As a born and raised West Coast girl who loves the outdoors, the brand easily accomplished their goal with me.  Furthermore, they approached product development with the belief that no matter the consumer touchpoint, it should always be about sharing the brand and vision. A brand that is driven by passion and is easily relatable to consumers is core to the start of building any business.

“Look at the intersection between what is true and what is unique about the brand in terms of the market…that’s where you find that special blend that sets the framework for design.” – Matthew Clark, Founder and Creative Director of Subplot Design

Beer and Design 2.0 - Panelists

Matt is no stranger to the integral role design plays in brand development. With over 20 years in design and many partnerships with breweries, he shared how the relationship between product design and beer is invaluable. He continually spoke of the importance of staying on-brand and provided insights as to how a brand fuels design decisions. Ultimately, decisions always come back to the brand, in particular as the business grows. A business should believe in the brand they build and embrace every aspect of it as they move forward. First build a strong brand, then build a business around it.

“Collaboration brews are hot…but how do you stay true to brand and collaborate?” – Jessica Singh, Sales and Events Manager at CRAFT Beer Market

Jessica touched on the opportunities and challenges of collaboration brews, then ultimately opened up the discussion to marketing tactics behind collaboration. As breweries partner up for limited releases, how does the voice of each brand stay true? Do you design an entire new label just for a one-month release? With design and marketing teams as integral assets, skip the new label idea and build a campaign across social media channels. The ability to adapt to changes and display new content in real-time is best done on digital platforms, and successful craft breweries rely heavily on design and marketing to leverage digital tools and promote the brand. Brewhouse collaboration is an exciting direction for the beer industry, and it is best done with a strong design and marketing strategy behind it.

“I went to a store and I couldn’t find my beer. It was right in front of me but I couldn’t see it,  so I went back to the team and said guys, “we have to do this again.” – Nigel Pike, Operations Manager/Owner, Main Street Brewing Company

The creative process is a wonderful tool, but it isn’t always perfect the first time around. Nigel’s story of a failed branding move highlights the challenges of developing a vision and staying true to brand.  More importantly, it’s ok (and often necessary) to go back to the drawing board and rework an idea. Don’t be afraid to throw everything out the window if the design truly isn’t working. When Nigel did this, their most iconic label was created as a result.

Matthew Clark from Subplot chatting with RED Academy instructors

“Beer has an amazing ability to bring people together. How can we enhance that physical experience with the digital world?” – Brian Krenzer, Creative Director at Noise Digital

Brian’s fascination with how beer and technology relate was apparent as he passionately held his mobile device in the air proclaiming, “Let’s talk about what is happening with mobile devices, where digital is meeting our physical spaces”.  There is  a huge opportunity for the beer industry to engage their drinking community through technology. Digital marketing tactics and developing mobile apps that engage the consumer is just the tip of the iceberg of opportunities for collaboration between both industries. Technology benefits from this exciting symbiotic relationship by serving as the connection between a rapidly growing beer scene and fast-paced changes in how consumers interact with mobile devices. Building this relationship is not only exciting for each party, but it fuels the economic growth of British Columbia. What’s good for beer is good for B.C and it’s budding tech industry.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to get into design or the tech industry in general, check out our events page or courses offered to find out more!

All proceeds from this event were donated to support the 2017 Motionball Marathon of Sport Vancouver.

Written By:
Hatley McMicking
Digital Marketing Professional Student, Spring 2017
Website

All Photos Taken By:
Gabriel Martins
Website

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