Art and Beer: Why Shake It Up Branding Works

On the road to Cabo, about 15 minutes past Todos Santos, a large sign proudly proclaims "Art and Beer".  Most drivers zoom by, as it looks like a non-descript collection of clay and bamboo buildings, just perched on the road outside of any Mexican town.  But those in the know do something. They stop.  

If you have been there once and you partake in the art and beer brand, you get hooked, and tell all your friends.  Word-of-mouth promotion keeps this tiny spot alive. On the walls of this eclectic abode, you see numerous photos of celebrities.  Those few who become so intrigued by the juxtaposition of art and beer, they decide to stop and check it all out. Which is what we did the first time.

The owners, a grizzled Mexican artist and his wife, look like hippies from the sixties, down to their long hair and bohemian shirts. Yet they have created a differentiating brand by combining two diverse concepts, art and beer, usually not associated together.

Well... I'm here to say that it is because of this unexpected pairing, that the "Art and Beer" brand works.  Everything feels a little off kilter when you enter the small bar. It's the unexpected elements, that make it memorable.... like after you pay the bill for your drink or meal and get ready to leave, they offer you a free beer to drink in their rustic gallery up the stairs. And guess what? Free beer on the upstairs deck, means you end up buying the silk-screened t-shirts featuring, what else, art on them.

Sometimes I think we need a lot more surprises with branding, to break through the expected norm.  This is true for many organizations, who feature beautiful photos of hip, smiling individuals engaged in healthy and fun activities with non-differentiating messaging.  Sorry folks, but they all look and sound the same. I say it's time to be more provocative and break out of the pack!

Let's try to introduce into our branding -- things that don't go together and make you stop, pause, and tell your friends.