Thursday, December 3, 2015

Brand Masters #1: Greg Taylor

3 Tips from Crafting the Steam Whistle Brand

Rebel leader Luke Skywalker

If big brewers are the evil Empire, how has a rapidly-growing craft brewery managed to keep its scrappy, upstart Rebel Alliance brand?

Use the Force, Luke!

At the Toronto Entrepreneurs Conference and Trade Show, Steam Whistle co-founder (and certified Jedi Knight) Greg Taylor shared his wisdom on building a strong brand, providing Yoda-like guidance to a room packed full of Stormtroopers... err, small business owners.

Steam Whistle Co-founder Greg Taylor

Here are 3 Force-full tips from Greg:

(1) Create an experience

Wedding celebration at Steam Whistle's Roundhouse

After moving into the historic Roundhouse building and interacting more directly with Steam Whistle's customers (who'd visit for brewery tours and tastings), Greg realized that craft beer is more than just booze in a bottle, it's a set of values, and an experience...

...inside and out.

In addition to giving tours, the brewery expanded its offerings to include wedding and event hosting, which its customers demanded. It also went beyond the walls with custom, vintage Steam Whistle cars and trucks, delighting fans (and star systems) across the galaxy.

(2) Partner up!

Steam Whistle served on a Porter flight

When Porter Airlines approached Steam Whistle with a similar underdog problem (surviving against the big bad Empire — Air Canada), the two brands partnered up. Both shared similar values, of course, like their nostalgic feel and their emphasis on customer service.

So, an alliance!

The result: Steam Whistle gained valuable exposure to an elite group of professionals as the exclusive beer served (yes... for free!) at Porter's terminal lounge and on flights. Like the Rebels and the Ewoks, they formed a unique bond even the Empire couldn't topple.

(3) It's all about culture

Greg Taylor spreading the Steam Whistle culture

As the head of a company, it's easy to sit back and manage people via email, all while cackling Emperor Palpatine-style. But no! That's no way to build a company's culture! For that, Greg had to become a hands-on, one-on-one, face-to-face kind of ruler.

Like Princess Leia, he got his hands dirty.

On advice from another CEO, Greg spends most of his day walking around the office... talking to people. Asking questions. Ensuring they have everything they need. In fact, he even goes on the road (!!), spending entire days with his salespeople, spreading the brand's culture.

The Rebels win!

And that's why Steam Whistle's STILL Steam Whistle, though not the underdog anymore...

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