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June 11, 2015
Chicago, IL
Brewbound Session Chicago 2015
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Brewbound Session: The Art of Storytelling

Seven years ago, Michael Kiser became obsessed with beer.

As a brand strategist who led large-scale innovation platforms for companies like Nike, Hewlett-Packard and Samsung, Kiser was incredibly drawn to how upstart craft brewers were presenting themselves when he first encountered their products.

As he began discovering new companies — and eventually blogging about them on Good Beer Hunting — he noticed one commonality.

“I saw the end of a story before I ever saw the beginning of a story because brewers are still to this day convinced that the only thing that matters is in the bottle,” he told attendees at last week’s Brewbound Session business conference in Chicago.

“Beer isn’t necessarily the story in and of itself, it’s the embodiment of the story,” he added. “We tell people not to judge a book by its cover and yet that is mostly what we are asking our beer and consumers to do every single day.”

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So he urged craft brewers to consider their own narratives, taking into account how their products are characters, exist in settings, that commit actions.

The first two are pretty self-explanatory – brewers, distributors, retailers and consumers can all easily identify places like brewhouse, a taproom or a bar. But it’s the actions of those characters in those places that Kiser finds most interesting and believes brewers should pay greater attention to.

“I think beermakers probably take more action in their marketplace in front of their consumer than just about every other industry I’ve ever worked in,” he said. “It’s very tangible, hand-to-hand, competitive and collaborative and it is in front of your consumers all the time.”

Most craft brewers, he said, are doing all of these things but not stringing each component together into “a narrative that really matters or resonates with anybody.”

Instead, brewers looking to make deeper connections with consumers should consider the kinds of stories they want to tell and the morals of those stories, Kiser said.

“These stories are out there and they are happening at a macro level,” he said. “Not a lot of brewers think about where they fit in and what stories make sense for them on a particular level.”

To learn more about strategies for compelling storytelling, check out the complete video of Kiser’s presentation, which is included above.

Video playback of Brewbound Session Chicago is also available on YouTube.