Creating an Authentic Brand Experience: High five to Chris Cochran, Marketing Coordinator for Stone Brewing Co.
Everyone who works for the company understands the culture and shares it through every communication experience. No ads or huge outside agencies. No fluff.
I’ve heard of Escondido-based Stone Brewing Co. I’ve listened to interviews with the CEO on the radio and know well that Arrogant Bastard Ale tastes as good as it feels to order it by name. I’ve heard that their headquarters with its brewery, full-service bistro, event grounds, storefront, and gardens are stunning.
What I didn’t know is that the company doesn’t have any signage on the building and you won’t hear their ads on the radio. Nope, their marketing strategy is real word-of-mouth in a form that has fans driving to an off-beat destination in San Diego County, through an Auto Park and up a hill to an unmarked building. And they’re coming in the thousands. Or, they’re ordering their favorite Stone Brew in masses at restaurants, bars and grocery stores across the U.S.
After digging deeper, I also didn’t realize that their branding rules, which are outlined online, demonstrate that Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens knows the value of branding. I personally can’t recall seeing a press room with correct and incorrect terms, but they have the guts to make sure we all get it right.
I had a chance to interview their marketing coordinator and here’s his response to a few questions on why their model has worked so well.
How do most people learn about Stone?
I’d say that most people learn about Stone Brewing via several different methods: By drinking our amazing beers, word of mouth, our website, and now-a-days Social Media (primarily Facebook and Twitter)
How do you manage press interests and spreading the word about new brews and company expansion? Do you share news with traditional top-tier media first or with select industry veterans or bloggers first?
Generally when we have a new beer being released we’ll send about 24-36 samples, along with information, to a select list of media outlets and writers that frequently cover the craft beer scene. Some our industry (beer) related/focused and others are either business or food related.
How do you get the word out about new happenings and events at Stone Bistro?
We have a full time Social Media guy, PR guy, myself, along with an amazing team of Graphic Artists that help create and promote all of our events. For things happening in the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, we use lobby posters, social media, website/event calendar, small “flyers” on the tables, etc.
The North County Times quote seems to suit you well – “Extraordinary growth has become ordinary for Stone Brewing Co. The 13-year-old company keeps outgrowing its surroundings like a teenager outgrowing his clothes.” How does the company manage its growth while not “selling out” and becoming too much off a corporate-feeling brand?
Obviously its credit to our founders, Steve Wagner and Greg Koch, for assembling an amazing team of individuals that they believe in. But it also takes patience, and being able to focus on “managed growth” all while being true to our roots. One of the main reasons for all of this is doing things on our terms and by not outsourcing anything on the creative side….we do everything in-house.
Did Stone’s leadership have a bad experience with an advertising campaign that put them in a “never again” mode?
Nope. You just have to realize that when two guys were starting a super small brewery back in 1996, and were losing money hand-over-fist, that they didn’t have any kind of budget for advertising. So once we became successful, and started to grow rapidly, it seemed natural to stick to our same philosophy.
Have you had a terrific brand experience with Stone Brewing Co. or have a story to share about another company who “gets it”? Tell us about it!
To check out Stone Brewing Co. for yourself, visit:
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
1999 Citracado Parkway
Escondido, CA 92029
Lauren W. Forgione is lead publicist with Citrus Public Relations in San Diego. The Citrus Public Relations team is known for its extended team member approach with capabilities that include media relations, community goodwill programs, social media and special events.