The wonderful, sudsy folks at Steamwhistle Breweries have offered BetaKit a few lessons from the pros. Cofounders Cam Heaps and Greg Taylor were the ones responsible for guiding the iconic branding of the Steamwhistle company, a Toronto-born beer now known to millions of Canadians.
For those who aren’t aware of the brand’s history, it is pretty cool. Heaps and Taylor, along with a third cofounder are former employees of Upper Canada Brewing Company before it was bought by Sleeman’s. The original name for the beer was going to be “Three Fired Guys Brewing Company” since they all lost their jobs when it was purchased by Sleeman. According to sources, they eventually settled on Steam Whistle Brewing to evoke an image of steam rushing from a factory’s whistle signalling the end of the work day. Embossed at the bottom of Steam Whistle bottles is “3FG” as an inside joke, referencing “Three Fired Guys”.
Today the company owns a fleet of 1950s Chevy, Dodge and Ford trucks and wagons as their brand vehicles and has been recognized for having the best beer in Toronto at the Golden Tap Awards as well as having been voted the Best Toronto Microbrewery by the readers of Toronto weeklies NOW, Eye Weekly and XPress in Ottawa. Adding to the brand’s coolness, the Steamwhistle brewery has long hosted indie music shows.
Here’s Heaps and Taylor’s four tips for entrepreneurs:
Stand out from the crowd – “Not only should your product be unique, but as the face of your company, you should personally do your best to rise above others and stand out. Cam and Greg, for example, have worn flashy plaid suits with green shirts and ties to formal events, and travelled in memorable vintage vehicles. There is always a way to be unique, so find your niche.”
Live your brand – “If you’re not excited about your product then no one else will be either. Word of mouth is free and powerful so don’t be afraid to give out samples of your product and let others find out for themselves why yours is the best. Talk up your brand without being overbearing and don’t forget, enthusiasm is contagious.”
Take risks and be confident – “Don’t be afraid to take risks and stand by your decision. Cam and Greg aren’t known for always toeing the line; this makes them easily remembered and recognized, and media often seek them out for industry comment.”
When appropriate, use humour – “You are an extension of your brand but don’t be afraid to smile and have fun, particularly if your product falls in the lifestyle category. A warm, emotional connection with a brand spokesperson, translates into warm, emotional connections with your brand.”