Can the Smallest Changes Lead You to Success?

A name given to a beer gives that brand a unique identity that can help it be distinguished from what other beers that the same brewery makes or from what other beers are in that same style from across several breweries.

“When someone hears, or sees the name of a beer I think the name can help identify the brand of the brewery and [it] helps to tell the brewery’s story,” said Lumberyard Brewing‘s Kelly Hanseth.

Sometimes, a change to that name can help re-set the brand or else better identify it.

When Lumberyard originally opened, the Flagstaff, Arizona brewery wanted to focus on the brewery name itself.

“We had each beer named Lumberyard Red, Lumberyard IPA, etc.,” said Hanseth, the brewery’s Marketing Manager. “After a couple years, we made the transition to naming each individual beer, and giving a unique identity along with the brewery name.”

Hanseth said since Lumberyard had become better known throughout Arizona, the decision was made to change the focus from the brewery as a whole to each unique beer.

“Now it’s not just Lumberyard IPA but Flagstaff IPA, creating a sense of where we are from not just the brewery and where it is made,” Hanseth said. “Our Lumberyard Red went back to its old name of Railhead Red — from our sister brewpub down the street with the same owners. Bringing the name back recreated the sense of history that the beer had in Flagstaff as well as Arizona.”

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Champion Brewing’s Shower Beer is the brand that has had the most success, in part due to its name.

The brand is an instantly recognizable talking point, said president and head brewer of Champion, Hunter Smith, about the beer that won gold at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.

But Smith noted that some of the branding has evolved and matured, helping us to be more shelf-friendly in the places where Charlottesville, Virginia beer is sold.

“In the early days, our labels were dark, comic book-style images with sometimes violent themes,” Smith said. “We’ve nerfed the violence, injecting a sense of humor and taking a more family-friendly approach in our branding look.”

In the long run, brand names are not critical to selling beer, said Kansas City Bier‘s Stephen Holle.

“A catchy name can help entice someone to try a beer, but ultimately the beer must appeal to the consumer’s taste, or they won’t re-buy,” he said.

KC Bier names all of its traditional styles after the generic German name.

“The only exception is when we use an American interpretation of a German style, then we create a new name, but that name still stays connected to the base style,” explained Holle.  Examples include: Doppel Alt (a higher ABV, dry-hopped Altbier), Wunder Pils (a higher ABV Doppelbock-style pale Pils) and Der Bauer (The Farmer, a farmhouse style ale with all German ingredients.).

“We had a fanciful German name for one of our biers, Hopfen Doof, aka, “Hop Stupid”. But, the name was mispronounced and hard to say, so we changed the name to an easier name to pronounce and more descriptive of the style: Doppel Alt,” Holle said. “Names that indicate the style and flavor are helpful in leading a consumer to a style they like. Hard to pronounce names can also discourage a consumer from ordering it because they don’t want to sound stupid butchering the pronunciation.”

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