Soooo, we think it’s pretty obvious that both Stacey and I (Tara) love a good beer (or 10) on the occasion. In fact, we love beer so much that we reached out to one of Australia’s most influential independent breweries, Stone & Wood. We’re big fans of Stone & Wood, not only for their beer, but for everything else they stand for too. So we thought hell, let’s get in touch and see if they’d answer a few questions for us on branding, and in true form, they replied with the goods.
So, here’s what we asked, and what they had to say.
The Stone & Wood brand has grown so fast over these past few years, what is the most important message that you wanted to communicate to the world about S&W?
Born and raised in Byron Bay, Stone & Wood is proudly local and independent, brewing approachable, sessionable beer in the Northern Rivers of NSW. Inspired by the idea of creating a village brewery and with the vision of building a conscious business, we’re striving to do good in our community with beer that is simply good to drink.
Companies of yesterday give business a bad name but we believe that we can use business and beer as a force for good. We strive to create value for all of our stakeholders, not just the bottom line. We call them our communities and it’s not only our drinkers but also our customers, suppliers and shareholders. We believe in taking care of the earth we walk on, treating our team like family and using our Ingrained community program as a way to give back in the areas that we live, work and sell our beer around the country. Our way of doing business balances creating a sustainable profit with doing good. It sets us on a course to remain an independent company for generations to come.
Traditionally, everyone in the community had a role to play – the butcher, the baker and the local brewer… A brewery didn’t just supply fresh beer to the locals, it was the meeting place and it could also be relied upon to support the wider community. We feel this is a part of our responsibility to support the people who support us.
Why do you feel it’s important to be transparent and show people what goes on behind the scenes?
We are proud of what goes into making our beers and our people behind it. Consumers want to be able to scratch below the label and find that there is depth and authenticity to the products they are spending their money on.
We’ve seen a few Aussie breweries sell to some of the multi-national brands in the industry, and we know you’re big on staying independent. So what does staying independent really mean to you?
The difference between us and the big breweries is that we’re not owned by a multinational corporation. When you buy our beer, you know what you’re getting, you know who the people are behind it, and you know what they stand for. We feel that knowing what was involved and that the producer is contributing to the local community is important. Beyond bolstering the local economy, supporting companies that are committed to the area and share the people’s values is key to sustaining the unique cultural fabric of a region. We don’t cut corners to get the beer out quicker and it does not leave the brewery gates if it isn’t up to our high quality standards. The difference between us and them is that we do it for the love of it! We’re not trying to be the biggest or the best, we’re trying to be good.
The 2017 Australian Craft Beer Survey by Beer Cartel found that 99% of beer drinkers were happy to buy from Independent breweries and 85% from gypsy brewers. Yet 77% were reluctant to buy beer brewed by a large multi-national company, why do you think this is?
Companies of yesterday have given business a bad name, caring only about profits. There is not soul. Beer has always been for the people, by the people and so with people’s growing awareness around supporting local and drinking good beer, it makes sense that they are wanting to support Independent businesses. Something so simple as buying a local beer at the corner pub, keeps that money in the community.
Recently you invested in your employees by giving them shares in the business, why was this so important to you?
Yes! 72% of our team are now owners in the business. Each year we welcome more of the team as partners and shareholders, after working for at least one year in the business. It isn’t just about what we brew but how we do business. We’re committed to having our highly talented team be co-owners and share in the value they are creating.
The employee share scheme is one benefit of our Brewlife program which is built on ‘brewing a good life’, so we place great importance in bringing the right people on, who respect the vision and contribute to cultivating the brewery’s unique culture.
We believe that to create a sustainable business for generations to come, we all need to have ‘skin in the game’. We place great importance in bringing the right people on, who respect our vision and contribute to cultivating our unique culture.
When it comes to company culture, how important is it to you, and how do you feel this impacts your brand?
Our people make the company what it is and we have been conscious of creating and sustaining a strong culture based on shared values from the start. Our people are a reflection of our brand and they contribute to how drinkers see us and want to connect with us.
If you could define your brand character in 3 words what would they be?
Humble, approachable, fresh
When it comes to visual identity, what is the feeling you want to evoke from your audience?
For us, we’re about taking it slow, keeping it simple and living a conscious lifestyle. Living in the Northern Rivers influences everything we do, so when someone drinks our beer, we want them feel as if the world’s slowed down and become more simple, for them to feel relaxed and laid back.
Lastly, we all know that it’s passion and ‘the why’ that drives a successful brand, what is the S&W ‘why’?
Our why is to develop, embrace and add value to our communities
Now, don’t you just want to go out and buy some beer? From a branding perspective, they’ve just nailed it. Understanding their why, what their direction is and their audience has helped to position them as a true Australian brand.
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