Tips to elevate your brand from a real Air customer
Building a brand that people recognize and resonate with is no easy feat. A memorable brand is carefully cultivated — where every branding choice, from the name and logo, down to how many exclamation points should be used when communicating with customers, works together to create an unforgettable brand experience.
Bev is an adult beverage company known for its empowered, female-first approach and the positive, inclusive drinking culture it promotes. The brand has won the hearts of a rapidly growing fanbase and bagged several awards for its creative vision. Bev is also a treasured Air customer!
We spoke to Bev’s Creative Director, Charlotte Cooper, about how her team created such a magnetic brand and learned her tips on how to elevate your brand to the next level.
Hi Charlotte! Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at Bev.
Sure! I’m the creative director at Bev. I started at Bev from Day Zero, with my cousin Alix, who is the founder and CEO. I’ve approved all the visuals we’ve put out as a brand. It has been a wild ride exploring the branding of Bev — from creating it, to maintaining it, to expanding it.
What does the creative process of building a brand look like? Has your approach to branding changed from when you were first creating Bev to now?
To build a brand, you need to first understand what it is the brand is going to do. Who is it for? What’s the message, the overall feeling you want to convey? For us, we tried to understand — are the consumers drinking our product really health-conscious? Are they older or younger? Where do they live? You need to think about who is going to consume your product, and you also want your mission to be represented.
At Bev, we knew that our mission was to create an extremely inclusive, respectful drinking culture. We recognized that in the alcohol industry, everything is largely the same; it’s very masculine. So we wanted to create this brand that was extremely feminine but not delicate. You want to come up with a persona for your brand and words to describe it before you start making any moves on it.
We first wanted the brand name to have a punchy feel to it, that, again, wasn’t too delicate but really strong and inclusive that also has a female aspect to it. For us, it was fun to explore the brand almost as if it were a person. Alix and I thought, “Who is your favorite party guest that brings everyone together and makes you feel happy?” We wanted to convey that feeling through our branding, the name of the company, and the product itself. And I think we have achieved something there, I mean Bev is a great party guest at this point!
How do you and the team talk about your company's brand? Do you ever use the term brand experience and if so, how would you describe that?
We haven't really used the term “brand experience” yet. Although if someone looks at our website, or our Instagram, or even examines our packaging and cans while they're holding them in their hands, it is an experience. I think the experience of Bev is always a very positive one.
As for how we talk about our brand, we’ve had explosive growth in the past couple of months, with the product itself going places that we’ve never seen before. So right now, when we talk about the brand, we really want to make sure that everything that people experience from Bev, whether it's holding the cans or seeing the website, it all fits together. Right now, just having done it all in-house, there are definitely smaller kinks that we need to iron out. So our brand experience is really focused on cohesiveness. People should feel, based on all of our touchpoints out there in the world, whether digital or product or packaging, like they know exactly what to expect from Bev.
How do you differentiate your brand from competitors, especially at a time when other canned alcoholic beverages, like White Claw and Truly’s hard seltzers, have become so widespread?
When we look at those companies from a brand experience perspective, you see those brands out in the world, but you don’t really feel supported by them. You don’t feel like the brand is speaking to you. That’s one thing that’s so much of a “duh” for Bev. We are never going to stop talking to our customers. Bev is their experience.
People love our brand because of the way we speak to them, through our social media, our website, and we also use a texting platform called Community to really talk to them. Our customer experience team blows it out of the water with making sure people feel supported. That’s the really special part about our experience — we are so digital. That’s something that people really love about us. We want to be a company that people can talk to. We want to make them feel good about the company they’re supporting while they’re drinking. That’s what sets us apart from all those giant brands. You might see a Bev billboard, but it’ll say “text us” on it. That’s the feeling we want to convey — Bev is a person that you can talk to.
What are some elements that make brands stand out? What are successful brands doing right? Are there any you look to for inspiration?
My inspiration from brands comes through looking at their social media pages. Our brand is always evolving on that front. Initially, we were going for this angle of almost looking like a person’s Instagram page rather than a product’s, and now we're sort of going into more of a product focus, going more aesthetic.
So I look at brands that are really aesthetically pleasing on social media. I look at beauty companies a lot. I think beauty companies do a really great job of having those high aesthetics and really satisfying photography. Glossier does a really great job of having these images that aren't really filtered, but they all look the same. So that's inspiring to me, although it's kind of cliche to say that Glossier inspires me. I look at non-beverage companies just as much as beverage. And right now, I'm really inspired by the aesthetics of cosmetic and hair products.
Is it important to keep your brand consistent? How do you establish brand guidelines?
Absolutely. For us it’s kind of funny because it's all being done in-house. There were moments where it's like, okay, we got the logo, we're good, we've got our color palette. So recently, within the past year, we've really worked on actually having brand guidelines, not only around colors, aesthetics, and logos, but also our brand voice. Our voice is so unique and so important for who we are as a brand.
The thing about brand guidelines is you can always explore it, every few months or every quarter and just think, is this still working? Because as our customers evolve, our brand evolves with them. So we want to make sure that we're always speaking to the right people and saying the right things. We do have really strict brand guidelines around colors and logos and fonts and things like that, things that are classic. But as we grow, our brand guidelines around voice are really something that we've been working on, and I think we're nailing it.
You mentioned evolving with your customers. Does that involve making changes to your brand as you go and how do you go about doing so?
Yeah, but it's not changes that would totally switch up the actual visuals of Bev. It's a lot more internal, like are we going to use more exclamation points or or less. We are noticing what our customers are saying and doing and there's always an opportunity to update if we need to, if something's really not working.
But it’s still our decision to make. We get a lot of feedback on our brand from our customers, because we do a lot of direct to consumer. So for example, every once in a while, we'll get someone in our customer experience channels being like, “Why do you guys swear? That's not okay, and blah, blah.” And it's like, well, we’ll listen to that, and we thank you for acknowledging something that you've noticed about our brand, but that’s just who we are! And that’s okay. So those kinds of little moments are things that we listen to and explore if it’s right for us to change. A huge part of branding is also saying no to things. So we need to decide what do we hold strong to? And what can we explore more?
What are some tips you have for building a strong, memorable brand?
You’ve got to have a mission. You’ve got to have something that you give a shit about. That’s so important for both the people working on the brand and the people experiencing it. Some people who don’t even drink love Bev, because of our mission, our voice, and the way we present ourselves. Because we are genuinely passionate about changing the alcohol industry and making people feel comfortable around alcohol. So the most important thing to me for a brand is to have a purpose. And when you have a purpose combined with a name that means something and gets people’s ears to perk up, you’re doing something right.
Then, you need to have visuals that go along with all of that. For example, you can have a brand that says it’s eco-friendly and is gentle in tone, but you have to make sure that whatever colors and fonts you use also work with that. So you need to look at the entire brand experience and ask if it’s working. You need to talk to your friends, talk to people not as involved with the brand, and just be like “Does this work? Are you into this? How does it make you feel?”
What tools do you use to support your creative process? Where does Air fit in and what makes it stand out to you?
We moved over to Air about a year ago, and we love Air because of the visual aspect of it. It’s so much easier to know which folders you’re getting into when you can see a preview of everything, so we love that.
Other tools we use to build our brand are Adobe Suite products like Photoshop and Illustrator. It’s really fun to learn those different programs that help you design and expand your skill set. So we use the Adobe Suite for all of our design needs, and we use Air for all of our organization.
We are in the process of changing some of our folder systems for social media, and I’m so excited to start a new board on Air. It’s going to be so aesthetically pleasing because it’s going to be colorblocked. Oh my god, I can’t wait.
Thank you so much for your time, Charlotte! Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?
I mean, Bev is literally the brainchild of Alix, our founder, and myself, and it's so cool that anyone can recognize it as a strong brand. It's like, “Oh yeah, we did something right.” Thanks, y'all!