Daredevil Brewing Co: The making of a craft brewery – part 1

January 4, 2013

It is pretty common for people to blog away as they are building out their craft brewery.   Part of this is to share the day to day struggles of building a real live business and part is to share the joy of overcoming those struggles.    We decided to focus on making “it” happen, because sometimes going public early creates unneeded extra pressure and expectations too early in the build out process.   We have always planned to tell our story, because it was mostly  fun and we knew from experience we would get lots of questions about the process of bringing Daredevil to life. We want to share what we have been doing for the last 18 months and will share the story in two parts.

In part 1, today,  we will focus on the making of the brand and in part 2, next week, we will focus on the hands on process of designing and building the brewery and all the aspects of launching that we are just now completing.

This might be a flyer, but do you know a lawyer in Australia

When you are out in the planning stage of a craft brewery the first or second question everyone asks is “what is the name?”   At some point the answer is “not sure”, or you are trying out ideas or you have the final one and are proudly answering that question almost before it is asked.   

Daredevil Brewing Co was not our first name but was an idea that came up after going through several rounds of thinking about what our vision of the brewery was and looking for a name that complemented that inspiration.    

The first time we all said the name we thought that it really embodied the vision of our craft brewery. The definition of daredevil is “recklessly daring”. We would not call ourselves reckless in the traditional sense, but this definition fits us in that we are not afraid of a good challenge and are willing to take educated risks and bets.

Now, when Daredevil came up on our name board the second reaction we had was “there is no way that is going to be available in the way we want”.   The reason was that besides looking for a name that complemented our vision we also wanted something that we could own the trademark on as we built out the brand.    A trademark search on “Daredevil” led us to learn that the mark was owned by an out of business Australian wine company.  In the United States, trademarks are not allowed to overlap between wine, beer and spirits so this was mixed news.  Good that no one had an active trademark in use across the wine, beer and spirits category, but the winery had been out of business for several years, and they provided a legal hurdle in our path if we wanted to have the ability to trademark the brewery name.

Here is where six degrees of separation comes into play as it happened that one of us knew a person who runs an Australian company that connected us with a legal firm in Sydney who connected us with an awesome lawyer who was willing to work with us to find and chase down the owner of the trademark.   After a few months of back and forth, we were the proud owners of the worldwide trademark that we have used as the legal basis for building out the Daredevil Brewing Co brand.   It seems like yesterday, but we actually completed the trademark acquisition in December 2011 and after five months of negotiations and a little nail biting.   And over the last twelve months we have extended our legal trademarks so that we can make sure there is only going to be one Daredevil Brewing. 

The branding of Daredevil Brewing Co

Anyone that has done company branding, naming and marketing knows it looks way easier than it actually is.  This is especially the case if the idea is to be consistent across a portfolio of products like a craft beer lineup.   

We were lucky that among the backgrounds of our team we had some experience in this area.   Still, branding something like a craft brewery that we all were putting a lot of sweat equity into is very personal process.   At first we had some ideas put together by a local designer but it became clear that if we wanted something more unique at the company and beer lineup scale we were going to have to find an agency with some background in the craft beer industry who could work with us and be more creative.

Our search brought us to Cultivator, a full service agency based in Denver, Colorado that has worked with New Belgium and several other breweries mostly located in Colorado.    Just on visiting their office it was clear this was a company that loved craft beer.   Their office proudly displays prior work for packaging and advertising done for several clients and they had a fully stocked fridge of craft beer on hand.

We traveled to Denver for an on site kick off meeting that included sampling about a dozen different beers from IPAs, Belgians, Stouts and Lambics so the agency could have an appreciation of not just our plans but our beers and the vision for the brewery.    It was a great bonding experience and one that went a long way in our knowing they understood a lot better what we were all about when it came to plans for the company.

The process for getting to our brand assets was filled with ups and downs as we learned a lot about ourselves, personal preferences and that colors, imagery and fonts can be really complicated. We love that where we ended up embodies the vision and spirit of Daredevil Brewing Co.    From the helmet logo, to our mission statement, to the Lift Off IPA™ label artwork our branding compliments our vision of a craft brewery that will make beers that are fun to drink, at times push the norms of style guidelines and are perfect to share at any given moment or occasion

The timeline of the branding process ran from March to July 2012 for the helmet logo and text marks, from July to September for the Lift Off IPA artwork, and then glassware, coasters, and t-shirts were all done from August to October. Obviously there will be additional work as we add more beers to our lineup in the coming months and continue to grow the visualization of Daredevil Brewing Co.    If you want to see examples of our branding check our our Facebook page. 

Up next in part 2 we will cover the ins and outs of designing and purchasing our brewery equipment, how we converted our site into a brewery and the startup process from testing out the system to our first shipment of Lift Off IPA this week.

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