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In the US, Shock Top Brewery is one of the country’s fastest-growing craft beer makers. Its tone of voice, packaging and website all lead the casual drinker to think that it’s an edgy, independent craft microbrewery operating out of St Louis, MO; a ‘disruptor’ brand shaking up the craft beer market. In fact, it’s just one of 400 brands churned out by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer company.
Anheuser-Busch InBev recognized that the cool customer perception of a craft, artisanal beer would quickly evaporate if they rebranded the beer or emblazoned their logo all over it, so keep their involvement very low key.
Free-spirit millennials who buy into cult footwear brand Converse as an indie alternative to the global, all-conquering colossus that is Nike might reconsider if they knew that Nike bought Converse outright back in 2003. Again, the bigger company saw the commercial value of maintaining the smaller brand’s market perception and not trumpeting its ownership credentials as an effective brand strategy.
If your niche is handmade or artisanal, then you have a business that absolutely should look and sound small. After all, you’ve got something that larger companies rarely have – and often spend big bucks trying to get. You’ve got a personality. A human face. You have warmth and charm, and can talk to your customers like an actual person, not some office drone reading from a script which in turn will help make your company more profitable.
Being small but perfectly formed can sometimes be a major asset, and you should exploit that cottage industry vibe wherever you can.