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5 Pro Tips to Design Better Brewery Merch

We’ve seen a lot of merch in our day, some good and some that fall flat. There are many ways to approach merch design, so we wanted to share some of the observations we’ve made over the years with the goal of helping the Craft Beer Professionals community design killer merch:

1. Branding doesn’t stop with your logo.

Dialing in your core branding is critical, and your main hero logo is a big part of that. We think you should always have merch emblazoned with that logo, but those shouldn’t be the only merch options you create. Merch can be a great place to showcase secondary and tertiary logos/marks, as well flex your creative design chops when paired with a unique item. Take this shirt from our friends at Civic Brewing (designed by SeaThirst Creative) for example- the “Hoppy in Sopchoppy” tagline is the focal point of these shirts, and their main hero logo is a small element of the overall design. The fonts and colors used make it very evident it is Civic, without having the main logo front and center.

2. Context is critical.

When designing merch, you should strive to understand those who will be using it and understand the context in which it will be used. Your branding might look great on a banner or sign, but when you shrink the format to fit a table tent, fine details can get lost and legibility/visibility may become a concern. When looking through the lens of the customer, always remember their likes/dislikes. Are they into DnD and other games? Perhaps branded 12-sided dice, or decks of playing cards are a good fit. Maybe they love dogs? Branded dog collars and chew toys might just make their day. Main takeaway: understanding how these items will be used and who will be using them is key to the success of your program.


3. Quality over quantity.

We believe that the quality of your merch should match the quality of your beer. Afterall, your merch is a direct extension of your brand(s). You might have the hottest brewery in town, but if your apparel is falling apart weeks after being purchased, that is a poor reflection on your brand. Instead of using the “shotgun” approach of having multiple low quality offerings, we recommend focusing on a handful of items (to start, at least) that reflect the same level of quality and thoughtfulness that go into your beer.


4. Scarcity can create demand.

If something is hyper limited and won’t be made again/anytime soon, people are drawn to purchasing that item as a “collectible” and the exclusivity of owning it. When designing merch, keep this “limited edition” concept in mind. You can absolutely keep your best-sellers available year-round, but adding the hyper limited and small run items can be a great way of creating excitement and returning customers looking to get their hands on something unique. If for some reason the item misses the mark, then you aren’t stranded with heaps of excess inventory. Simply mark the limited items down to move through inventory/keep them for a future beer release, and move on to the next run.


5. Solicit opinions from key stakeholders.

You want to ensure that the items you are selling will actually be used by your target customers and team members, so ask for their input! When you solicit feedback from your team, distributors and customers, they’ll feel heard, and will be more likely to give you a shout out to their network.


Design can be daunting, but with some research and careful selection of the right items, you can create some truly beautiful and unique offerings that anyone would be proud to use, and you can have some fun while doing it.


Pat Delves is the Sales and Marketing Manager at Shore Up Supply. He’s here to help make your merch management experience suck less. Talk to him; he’s social! A little weird, but mostly social.