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What is a lifestyle brand? Should it be ambitious or can it be more utilitarian? Where is the line between a “classic” brand and a “lifestyle” brand? Today we sit down with Jeremy Gregory, co-founder of Montucky Cold Snacks to explore this idea. Jeremy’s definition of a lifestyle brand is simple: positioning your brand as a welcome companion to anything that brings someone joy.
Cold Snacks did just that and all on the back of a single light lager – an interesting conversation piece in itself. Historically, craft brewers couldn’t make a macro-esque light lager from a quality and respectful brewing craftsmanship standpoint (the whole industry was built as the David of Big Beer’s Goliath, after all ). But putting that philosophy aside, the brewery couldn’t make a large-scale light lager either because it could never compete with the AB InBevs of the world.
But it turns out that both are not necessarily true. Craft drinkers, at least in my circles, are most often beer-first drinkers. They prefer craftsmanship and will always start the evening with a well-made local beer or two. But as you get deeper into the night or start a day off in the field, the easy-drinking light lagers really start to shine. And if a beer tastes great, drinks easily, is priced right, and is made by an independent brand, then you have something special on your hands.
Isaac (CODO): Hi, Jeremy. Please introduce yourself and tell us what you do at Montucky Cold Snacks.
Jeremy: I am Jeremy. I’m the person in charge of marketing operations and execution here: graphics, copy, design swag and online sales, social planning and execution [at times], nationwide promotions and sweepstakes, point of sale design. Annual market planning, digital planning, budgeting and, of course, bar events. Literally the whole range.
CODO: Can you give us an overview of Montucky Cold Snacks itself? Overall concept, positioning, portfolio, annual production and why have you become such a popular brand?
Jeremy: We started simple and focused on enjoying the moment and engaging positively and passionately with our customers, encouraging them to help us define the brand in their own way. Keeping it simple is very difficult because the modern human mind and today’s society like to complicate things; We like to think of ourselves as a break from the seriousness of life. We only have two products, a basic lager and a simple grapefruit seltzer. We also promise 8% back to the communities in which we are sold to various non-profits because again, we want to help people live richer lives and we want to reinvent in their communities in impactful ways. I think we’ve found success because in addition to our retro branding that people love, we’ve done a good job of staying true to our original roots and that builds the character of the brand and ultimately resonates with customers.
CODO: Tell me what makes Montucky Cold Snacks a lifestyle brand?
Jeremy: Not thinking too much about the moment. Don’t try to be everyone’s time. Just being us, while welcoming others and celebrating who they are.
CODO: In your opinion, what makes a lifestyle brand successful?
Jeremy: Again, don’t overthink the timing. Breathing. Flow. Attractive. Include and let customers be themselves in the many ways they have fun.
CODO: Do you think a lifestyle brand needs to have a charitable bent to be successful?
Jeremy: No. In fact, most of the lifestyle brands I think of and research don’t have really strong charitable components. I’m not saying they don’t get involved with different organizations from time to time, I’m just saying they don’t build themselves around a specific cause or commitment, I rather think they build themselves around mindsets and interests, and if you do it right and authentically, that seems to be enough for many lifestyle brands. That could change, but that’s what I see when I think of big lifestyle brands.
CODO: We’ve seen many brands aim to create a lifestyle without understanding how much hands-on work, market activation, and ongoing marketing are needed to achieve this. Did you know how to do this from the start or was there a lot of learning along the way?
Jeremy: That’s a good question. Lifestyle branding is a lot of work if you’re really trying to be something as a brand that you’re not, or if you don’t have a strong brand identity to start with and are trying to jumping on all the whims of cultural trends that flourished in society over time. If you’re trying to jump on something, there’s probably a 50% chance you’re already too late. Also, brands that are really trying to rebrand themselves or don’t really know where to start will continue to struggle with this and will continue to work very hard because more often than not their efforts are forced, and subsequently , non-authentic.
I think the hardest part of lifestyle branding is knowing what your brand is from the start and having a team that is on the same page about it. If half of your team thinks the brand is something else or has some hidden reason for wanting to change the mood, you’re going to be in trouble. All in all, we were lucky in Montucky because we had the luxury of being able to set the brand, voice, and tone early on however we wanted and spent a ton of time making those pieces reflect the irreverent, fun, nature of the company ahead of time.
Visually, we’re fun, bright, retro and irreverent, and our light lager follows that mood in flavor profile, as does our voice and subsequent lifestyle.[s] we present on our various platforms. This has attracted employees who also align with this vibe. This energy flows organically to clients who, in turn, reinvent and strengthen these elements in their own way with us. It’s still a lot of work, but it cuts down on the guesswork, if everyone is already in the flow. But even then, while it’s been fairly easy to maintain and evolve over time, it’s not a given. To keep a brand strong, you need a strong voice that leads it and understands the landscape. When you start guessing, you start tripping over your own shoelaces.
CODO: There is always a perception that if you focus too much on one audience or subculture/activity, you will exclude a group of people who might otherwise buy your beer. Montucky started with tight positioning and grew at an incredible rate. Tell me why focusing on a target audience/lifestyle is good business for non-believers.
Jeremy: These are your roots and your foundation. Very rarely you can go anywhere and find success. You are rooting yourself with your main customers and scaling up to new customers as it makes sense.
CODO: Which is the most shotgun? Cold snacks or cold hard seltzer?
Jeremy: People shot seltzer water guns?
Read the rest of this article on the CODO site.
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