Bottle the magic of your brand like Brewdog

This week I came across one of the best ever examples of a brand manifesto, for the craft beer brand Brewdog (thanks to Jason for the tip-off). They sell beer, and also have their own bars. Starting life in 2007 with just two employees, the Aberdeen-based brewer is now in 60 countries, employs 750 staff and has grown rapidly as the chart below shows.

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Here is the brand charter. In contrast to many bland vision and values statements, Brewdog have lived up to their reputation of being “beer punks” and injected some really energy into their brand charter as they call it. It does a great job of “bottling and bringing to life the magic” of their brand. 

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Here’s what I think we can learn from this.

  1. Manifestos beat values

We like to use brand manifestos on projects instead of, or in at least in addition to, brand value statements. Brand values tend to end up using a similar shopping list of words such as “innovation”, “trust”, “teamwork” and “consumer-centric”. You end up with a bland vision, not a brand vision.

In contrast, writing a more long-hand manifesto like Brewdog's allows you more freedom to really express how you feel about your brand. It becomes more of a story, with sense of drama and emotion, rather than a list of words.

  1. What do you want to fight for?

To work on a manifesto in a workshop we ask a series of questions to the team, such as “What do you fight for?” and also “What do you fight against?” These sorts of questions have proven to be much more effective at getting teams to think about their guiding principles than directly asking them “What are your values?” Its an approach that taps into how a brand team feel about their business more than what they think about it.

  1. Be brave and bold

What I love most about the Brewdog manifesto is how it truly reflects the rebellious and irreverent character of the business and its leaders. It feels like the team have poured their heart and soul into writing it. And they had the balls to include phrases such as “We blow shit up”. How much more memorable and inspiring is that than “innovation” or “creativity”?

"If you can't put your values on a t-shirt, you should burn them," as Founder James Watt puts it in this article.

  1. No crafting by committee

Workshops can be a good way of getting team involvement and the building blocks of a brand manifesto. But when it comes to crafting the final output, this is a job for one of maybe two people. That way you are more likely to get something distinctive and powerful, and avoid it being watered down by a committee where everyone wants to input.

In conclusion, Brewdog shows how to “bottle the magic” of a brand, by pouring heart and soul into crafting a manifesto that shuns corporate speak. You may want to pull out your own brand vision and see if you need to “do a Brewdog” on it to create your own manifesto.