Building a Strong Beer Brand

How Distinctive Assets Differentiate Brewers

When it comes to beer, what’s on the bottle, can, glassware or packaging is just as important as what’s in it. That’s because effective branding has the power to attract new customers, thereby helping brewers capture more market share in a competitive category.

Following the launch of the much debated “Looks like a Guinness” campaign, we conducted tests of the static ads to determine if the Guinness harp was needed or whether the colours and shape of the Guinness glass were enough to drive recognition and emotion. View our Test Your Ad reports to see how ads without the harp compared to ads with the harp included.

Then, we set out to understand how distinctive the Guinness harp is and how it compares to other beer brand assets. Think of Distinctive Asset Tests as a consumer taste test for the brand shapes and signifiers, key colours, logos, glassware and other assets like slogans and typeface. By testing people under time pressure to determine whether they correctly attribute the assets to each corresponding brand, we learn more about the effectiveness of these elements.

Read on to learn more about the results.

Are Assets Accomplishing Awareness?

Before conducting Distinctive Asset Tests among 600 people in the UK, we first determined brand salience by asking respondents to name beer brands from memory under time pressure. We discovered that the brands with high levels of Fame are traditional lagers typically seen behind a bar or on a shelf when shopping. Stella Artois was the most frequently named brand of the eight tested, followed by Carling and Foster’s. Guinness struggled to compete in this initial test.

However, despite lower Fame, our testing found that the Guinness harp is among the most recognisable brand shapes in the asset class. Foster’s “O” narrowly outperformed the harp, yet many of the other brands’ shapes performed more poorly when people were asked to name them. The misattribution for the harp is also among the lowest in the asset class. Plus, consumers are very quick to recognise that the harp is a Guinness icon, with a mean speed of 1.65 seconds. This further showcases how synonymous the harp is to the brand, which dates back to 1862, when it was first used on a Guinness label.

Guinness also comfortably owns the colour black, with it being the most recognisable colour in our testing. Thus, when testing beer brand logos, it’s no surprise that the Guinness logo tops the asset class for recognition and also achieves the lowest misattribution. The shape of the harp and the black colouring enable people to name the brand quickly and easily.

So, with our testing demonstrating that the Guinness assets are all incredibly distinctive, what’s in the way of higher Fame scores for the brand? In other words, what will drive more people to recall Guinness as a leading beer brand? Fame is key because if a brand is easy to remember, there is a higher chance it will be selected over other brands when consumers are ready to buy.

Our characteristics test shows that the harp device is associated with quality and tradition, both of which are positive. Guinness is a brand with a long history and high quality standards. In fact, in 1900, the company opened the Guinness Research Laboratory, which aimed to standardize the quality and costs of their ingredients.

However, the brand has difficulty when it comes to being considered “fun,” “carefree” and “modern.” One of the ways in which Guinness can overcome the lack of or infrequent association with these terms is to add a fluent character to the mix.

As Orlando Wood describes in his book Lemon, fluent devices are unique living assets like recurring characters or scenarios that are used to quickly signal a brand and elicit a positive emotional response in people. Fluent devices are associated with greater market share and profit growth and reduced price sensitivity. Examples of these include Kronenbourg’s Cantona and Mads for Carlsberg.

What Do Drinkers Find Distinct?

With so many beer producers and brands trying to capture attention, strong visual assets are key. After all, distinctive assets can encourage someone to drink one beer over another. Everything from the brand colours to the shapes/emblems and logos can have an impact on the associations that people form about a beverage brand and whether they will recall it at the moment it truly matters – when they’re thirsty.

Our Test Your Brand Distinctive Assets Testing can help you determine which of your assets are distinctive to leverage in your marketing as well as identify areas for improvement that can make your brand more distinctive.

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