When new customers encounter your brand, they meet your packaging first — after all, we drink with our eyes.
You’ve spent so much time and money to start your brand and your heart and soul are in every sip. While it may be a bargain at first glance, hiring an amateur is risky and will likely cost you far more time, money, and lost sales in the long run. Experts never seem expensive once you’ve paid amateurs.
Experts don’t exist by accident. Years, often decades, of experience separate experts from the rest. But experience doesn’t always equal expertise – experts will not only have deep and broad industry knowledge but an abundance of focused creativity paired with deep market insights on what will sell.
Hiring an expert in alcohol beverage branding is a critical step in setting up your brand for success. Here’s how to identify experts in the alcohol beverage industry:
- First and foremost, the alcohol beverage industry is highly regulated — an expert will be fluent in TTB regulations. They will be able to deliver final files that are legally compliant, and if issues or questions arise, they’ll navigate these alongside you to solve them.
- Experts ask the crucial questions up front, setting clear aesthetic and strategic goals at project kickoff. They will make sure they understand key objectives and budget restrictions, and that their creative and strategic questions are answered before starting work, to save budget and time. They will work with you to understand your business plan, tiering structure, and sales objectives.
- An industry expert understands supply chain challenges. They can help you navigate this complex landscape and will have best-in-class vendor relationships that you will be able to leverage to get the best materials and thus, the best packaging results possible.
- Experts will help manage the production process, gather bids, and negotiate the best possible pricing. Once vendors are chosen, they will conduct meetings to avoid pitfalls and leverage cost savings.
- An expert will have a high level of technical knowledge on bottling, canning, and other downstream production processes to ensure your design produces seamlessly.
- They are experts in materials and sourcing – they will recommend paper, print methods, and other packaging solutions that make sense within your budget.
- Industry experts will have numerous in-category examples to share. They will have a defined process and case studies that prove their work’s return on investment.
Measure twice, and cut once. It’s always worth it to engage an alcohol beverage brand expert to get your story, logo, and packaging done right the first time. Expertise may come with a higher price tag but avoiding costly missteps and developing the proper horsepower behind your branding will more than cover extra fees.
Potential Red Flags When Vetting a Branding Partner
- They are not subject matter experts in alcohol.
- Fee structure is time and materials with a low hourly rate but are not clear about timing or total fees to complete your project. (Surprise invoices forthcoming?)
- Few or no pertinent client testimonials or case studies outlining their agency’s ROI/increased sales created by their work.
- Unsure of TTB regulations and the nuances of label requirements.
- Doesn’t ask the proper questions to set parameters of your project, doesn’t have a formal written briefing process or benchmarks for you to judge their project work.
- Willingness to provide a strategic or design solution up front to win business before they even have been engaged and fully emersed in your project’s challenges.
- No examples of how they have built brand systems that allow for brands to grow and expand clearly into additional products.
- Weak or nonexistent relationships with vendors, little or no knowledge of materials and production treatments/requirements.
- Does not guide production or the actual execution of your project. This means they’ll likely deliver your design and say goodbye, leaving you to figure out production and cost of goods challenges.