How to Use Brand Storytelling to Avoid Your Products Getting Lost in Translation

Posted by Michael Benjamin on Oct 12, 2018 10:30:14 AM
Find me on:

Craft breweries who leverage the art and science of brand storytelling see an increase in customer loyalty, brand awareness, market differentiation, and of course, sales.

For those who are looking to craft their own brand story, in and out of the craft beer market, not knowing where to begin with a brand story holds them back.

This article will cover what brand storytelling is and highlight some client work we did with Boulder-based Upslope Brewing Company so you can apply similar principles to your brand storytelling strategy.    

Denver Design Week | October 16 | The Source Hotel | 6:30 - 8 p.m.
Tasty Brand Storytelling: Learn How Creatives and Brewers Collaborate to Translate Craft Beer Concepts into Effective Brand Stories, a Denver Design Week
With Anthem Branding, Interact, Upslope Brewing Company, and Weller
Purchase tickets 

Denver Design Week Tasty Brand Storytelling with Anthem Branding, Upslope Brewing, Interact, and Weller

What is brand storytelling? 

Sharing stories is fundamental to how we as humans universally relate to, connect with, remember, and engage with one another. Think about the bedtime stories you were told as a kid, the last Netflix binge that had you engrossed on the couch for an entire weekend, or that movie you saw multiple times in the theatre. Whether you knew it or not, you were hooked because you felt something, you connected or related with a character or setting or challenge.

Simply put, storytelling is a powerful and effective tool you should keep as a staple in your brand strategy toolbox.  

Crafting and refining your brand’s narrative is not any different than a great film or novel. Every story has a handful of basic elements that can be leveraged by your brand to strengthen the emotional connection your audience has with your brand.

Pete Docter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, put it best when he said, “What you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to write about an event in your life that made you feel some particular way, And what you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to get the audience to have that same feeling.”

Brand storytelling example: Upslope Brewing

If you're struggling to see the big picture impact of brand storytelling, put yourself in the shoes of your customer and see your product as they would. The importance of sticking out on the shelf becomes apparent very quickly, especially in hyper-competitive and saturated markets like the craft brewing market.

As one of the first craft breweries to offer small batch beer in a can, we wanted to support Upslope’s vision of being an outdoor lifestyle brand while keeping their differentiators front and center. We’ve worked with this great local brewery since their earliest of days, ensuring their brand is consistently communicated through the can designs, packaging, marketing collateral, custom merch, and even event design.

When we collaborated together on crafting a brand story, we wanted to ensure Upslope’s narrative carried the essence of the brand name (an upslope is a front range-covering, water-table-filling, snow-dumping weather pattern) and the feeling you get when you crack open a cold can of any of their stellar brews.

The use of color in their visual system is designed to tell you both of these important messages.For example, the gold on the Upslope craft lager, a session variety, is down-to-earth, light and refreshing, pulling inspiration from Mexican style beers. 

“Everything makes Upslope a hand-held tribute to all who believe playing hard should end with a quality beer that goes down easy,” the brewery’s website states.

The brand level system we developed for Upslope was about simplicity. No one else in the space at the time had a such a simple, straightforward design.

Yet, keeping the look and feel simple while conveying the quality of the product, how it tastes, or the science behind it can be tricky when the branding on a company's products are not aligned and clash, creating multiple stories that conflict with each other, ultimately, risking the chances of creating a memorable story.

Consumers crave and buy for an experience they can’t find elsewhere, even if they can get the product or service from another company for less 

Research supports this:

  • Oracle found that 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better brand experience, but only 1 percent feel that vendors can consistently meet expectations
  • Dimension Data found that 84 percent of organizations working to improve their customer experience see an increase in revenue
  • Wunderman found that nearly 80 percent of consumers want brands to demonstrate they care before considering a perfect

When a brand story is coupled consistently with the kind of experience you’re seeking to deliver to your audience through each and every interaction, brand loyalty becomes nearly bulletproof. The key to this is consistency.

Create visuals everyone understands

Upslope didn’t have the budget in the early days for illustration or high-end production, another factor in keeping things simple. Yet, they leveraged a universal visual system that everyone in their audience understands no matter if it’s the first time having an Upslope brew or their 200th.

For the last 10 years, Upslope has nailed this critical element. They have had the same brand design from the beginning — iconography, color palette, logo, etc. And it’s because of this that they have been able to come out above their competitors time and again while seeing steady rates of loyalty and new customer acquisition.


Upslope communicates the sort of flavor and the experience of drinking the beer through minimal design and saturated and rich color tones. 

The use of color psychology here especially helps the brewery extend their brand story into their can lineup, subtly influencing consumer behavior while telling the story of the expected taste and flavor. Our emotional connection and psychology around color associates feelings with experiences.  

This strategy is leveraged for Upslope's core series as well as their limited releases like their Pumpkin Ale, aptly wrapped in a moody orange and black for fall, or their dark and mysterious looking Experimental IPA series, donned in a deep purple and black color scheme.

A brand story threads a brand’s personality company-wide 

Consistent brand level systems, such as Upslope’s, helps to convey and reinforce a brand's personality traits throughout the entire company, which goes a long way when it comes to maintaining consistency. Brand stories that are consistently told throughout each touch point of the buyer or customer lifecycle see the benefits pay off.   

Hear from Upslope themselves and nerd out with me and Jacki Ognibene, our brand strategist here at Anthem Branding, while we talk about this very concept in full detail at the Denver Design Week keynote session on October 16. Tickets are still available! Go snag a few for you and your colleagues to keep our conversation here going. See you next week!

Topics: Brand Strategy, Retail Packaging Design, Craft Breweries, Logo, Brand Identity