Updated: May 6, 2020
When beginning any new adventure in life, especially one as important as this, research and planning are integral to success. One of our primary goals was to understand our own individual strengths and weaknesses so we could have the best chance of success. Sometimes these are easy to identify, others you may think are a strength until an expert tears apart your ideas with a confidence and logic that makes you wonder just how you thought you knew what you were talking about (That clearly happened to me, and we will get to that).
What are our strengths? Alice has a degree in science and commerce. She has been working for a global professional services firm for many years. Alice has learned the language and structures around finance, and through her role has had close contact within global legal, tax and accounting circles. In the regulatory nightmare that is the alcohol industry in Australia, and especially NSW, we knew Alice’s experience was going to be vital in navigating the various regimes with all t’s crossed and i’s dotted. Not to mention, as much as we wish it wasn’t the case, cash is king in any small business. So finance & regulatory were covered.
Grace is a multi award winning brewer. Not including the home brew set up in our kitchen for the past decade, Grace has been working as a brewer for over 4 years, starting at a large contract brewery. That facility brewed beers predominantly for the larger craft beer brands that had exceeded their own capacity. She learned to brew in a 200HL brewhouse, brewing up to 600HL per day. Following this she moved to an Independent brewery in Sydney's Inner West with a 25HL brewhouse.
There are two types of brewers. There are the mechanical brewers, and the artistic brewers. A mechanical brewer understands the equipment and the steps taken to produce a beer. An artistic brewers knows this, but understands what is happening along the way, how each step can affect the final product, and how subtle changes can create new and wonderful flavours. Artistic brewers are harder to come by, but they understand how to identify and mitigate issues and are able to visualise how ingredients and processes work together to produce our desired flavours. Grace is an artistic brewer, and winning awards for our first beer was sweet justification for all our hard work.
Jarrod has a degree in science and has spent the better part of the past decade working as an analyst and a data scientist. His roles rely heavily around researching companies’ scientific data and financial reporting, and building modelling to better forecast and utilise assets on a global scale. He loves to research and has consumed many of the textbooks and research there is on beer and the industry as a whole. Jarrod’s passion has helped him create a lot of connections and make some great friends in the industry. He also has a glorious beard, and what good brewery doesn’t have a beard involved!
So combined we had many of the pieces we needed to make this work, but what was missing? We knew marketing and branding were going to be our unknowns and we were going to rely on some people close to us with experience in these fields. For branding we had an idea of what we wanted. Thoughts ranged within a rundown downtown centric style, plastered onto some theme backing, such as old train sheds and vintage transport (cars, buses, planes, trains etc.). Weeks were spent doodling, photographing and researching what we wanted to identify ourselves with.
During this time, the brainstorming, midnight doodling, and confirmation bias, gave us a sense of confidence that we could do this, and our branding was going to be stylish and cool……
Jarrod's cousin had built a chain of restaurants, and an off the cuff remark that we liked the branding prompted an immediate response. His in house designer had recently left and was setting up his own design agency. “He knows his shit, talk to him, trust me, it will be worth it!”
So talk to him we did, Joel had just Started Yeah, Rad. in Newtown and we met up with him and his business partner, Reece over some beers. We explained our idea, our goals and our concepts for the brand. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like proudly presenting your ideas and then being given a 15 minute explanation of why you would stand to lose potential customers, be caught in a niche that could be difficult to extradite ourselves from, or inadvertently, come across to your customers with the wrong vibe.
But this 15 minutes was not a lecture, we were not talked down to, and we did not feel stupid for not considering the countless potential issues that were flagged. Instead, what we got was an incredibly informative understanding of how complex creating a brand can be, what we need to consider, and how that process could work. What we saw in that 15 minutes made us realise exactly why we needed expert advice. Some may say that’s just a sales tactic, but looking at the end product, the results speak for themselves. Granted, Joel and Reece made this decision easy for us, their confidence, personality and my cousin's recommendation made the process easy.
With plenty of red tape to go before we could secure approval to produce beer, this was not a rushed effort, so over 6 months, and an incredibly professional back and forth, they were able to take our menagerie of ideas and give us the branding of Reckless Brewing Co.
Our distinctive font, use of base colours, our RB logo and our Dog make our brand stick out like a sore thumb amongst the hundreds of brands we are competing with. As we have said before, we are not trying to create crazy styles, testing the bounds of sense and reason, we are creating a brand of delicious, full flavour beers. These beers can be enjoyed by the active crafties just as much as the new inquisitive people entering the craft beer world, who have just put down the Carlton, or the Corona, a journey we have all taken at some point to be in this world. Yeah, Rad. created the external palette, Grace has then followed this up with her delicious recipes. What we have created is a recognisable brand, that people are now starting to trust. That is, if there is a Reckless beer on the shelf, even one they’ve never had before, then it's going to be a rippa!
The moral of this story is, be confident, understand your strengths, beware of confirmation bias, and don’t be afraid to turn to an expert for advice, it could be the most valuable money you spend.