Good enough isn’t, or is it?

By Ken Gasque

Photo by Diego Catto

The phrase “Good enough isn’t” was coined by Los Angles advertising agency Chiat/Day and emblazoned on employee tee shirts. Chiat/Day was trying to keep up with its innovative account Apple Computer and Steve Jobs perfectionist philosophy…which is unattainable.

Walter Isaacson is Steve Jobs biographer. In his book, Steve Jobs, he gives an example of Jobs drive for perfection: “Steve in his first stint at Apple, was such a perfectionist that he holds up shipping the original Macintosh because he doesn’t think the circuit board inside is pretty enough. Even though nobody will ever see it. And after a while, he gets fired from Apple because he’s such a perfectionist. And he would say, “Well, real artists sign their work,” meaning they have to wait until they are perfect before they ship. When he comes back to Apple at the end of the 1990’s, they give him a new motto, which is, “Real artists ship.”

Photo by k u on Unsplash

Most companies don’t have this kind of drive for profection (they wouldn’t last if they did). Most merely use boastful advertising that claims a product or service to be the best. It is boring, unbelievable and, more likely than not, to be a turnoff. Why? Because the advertiser usually can’t prove that their claim is true and that they really are the best, even if they are. Do we really care?

Photo by Thomas Le

However, We have a client that does provide the best product in his category. No, he really does.  He spends thousands of dollars yearly conducting tests and having outside labs conduct tests to prove his product is the best. Is his product the best? Absolutely, but it is only marginally. Sometimes the difference between being the best and being second best or “pretty good” is very insignificant, measurable only in the lab by a trained technician with some very sophisticated measuring equipment. The difference is maybe 2% better. The costs for that extra 2% is about 20% more than the competitors product.

Quality is important, but the consumer does not pay much attention to claims that “We Are The Best!” and usually they can’t tell the difference.

Think about your own experiences. If you are searching for a service do you start out looking for the very best? Doubtful. Do you compare and analyze services? Probably not. If you are looking for a printer do you run tests to determine the best printer? Or if you are looking for a dry cleaner, or accountant, or coffee vendor, or yard maintenance person do you spend much time looking for the best?

Your advertising and marketing should help you develop a brand that makes the customer feel “pretty good” about your product or service. Do not misunderstand; you still have to provide the best you can. Your product has to be quality, your service has to be fantastic and you have to be there to back it up. But all of that is expected. Your branding needs to help the customer experience the brand, enjoy it and feel that it is “pretty good.” 

About Ken Gasque

Ken Gasque is a brand image-maker, marketing planner and designer. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on brands, design, images and brand development. We build brands using knowledge, experience and magic! 

The most powerful tool for creating magic is a pencil.

By Ken Gasque

1. The magic is in the thinking the pencil generates. Art teachers teach ‘thinking happens when you put pencil to paper.’ It’s true. It’s the simplest tool available to you, it allows you to concentrate on the opportunity and not the technology. Writing it down makes it happen. It’s magic.

2. And you get more solutions faster. Designers are taught there is more than one solution to every problem. Keep writing, sketching and doodling until there are a number of plausible solutions…the first idea is hardly ever the right idea.

3. Brainstorming doesn’t work, brainsketching and brainwriting does. Group discussion of ideas isn’t the prob-lem. The problem is with everyone talking. And one or two people who want to dominate. The solution is brain-sketching and brainwriting. Have group members put their idea in sketch or written form on Post-It Notes without authorship. Then let the discussion begin. It takes less time and you get better ideas.

4. It’s a plan, a map, a guide. If you are going to write a story you know you need an outline to start. A sketch does the same–sometimes called brain mapping. It helps to clarify your thinking; it makes sure you have included all of the elements and makes completing the project easier and more gratifying.

5. Sketches are just that—sketches. Sketches are anything visual, stick figures, even cutouts from magazines and newspapers work. Cut and paste. Anything that helps you visualize your idea works.

The magic of pencils.
“Sketchbooks are not about being a good artist, they’re about being a good thinker.” Jason Maria“Great designers have one thing in common: their design process is centered on ideas; ideas that are more often than not developed on paper.” Jean Moroney“Our hands offer a unique pathway to our brains. Using a pencil or pen to write appears to allow the brain to trigger different storage mechanisms. Ideas emerge…it’s magic.” Kristen Bigness

Labels tell your story.
It may be the only advertising your prospect sees. Pressure-Sensitive labels help you tell it best. Compared to glue-applied labels, pressure-sensitive label material offers greater possibilities with fewer restrictions on size and shapes. No other material offers the capability of intricate die cuts, brilliant graphics, and virtually invisible edge lines. These are important features if you want your product to stand out on the shelf. They differentiate your beer, so it gets noticed and gets chosen. Consumers are more likely to purchase a product that “catches their eye” on the store shelf. This factor beats promo-tions, coupons, product recommendation and advertising. It works because “we buy with our eyes.”

Is your label creating marketing magic?

  • Is your label service worth talking about?
  • Do you need to improve your process?
  • Do you want innovative ideas to market?

Call Blanco Labels 1-888-325-2626

But will it sell more beer?

Photo by Adam Pacanski

Photo by Wil Steward

By Ken Gasque

Have you seen the ABC program Shark Tank? Quite often the ‘Sharks’ have to point out to the entrepreneur that they have lost focus and they need to get back on track. It reminds me of a story about selling cheese. It started in 1941 with Admiral Nimitz in the South Pacific.

Admiral Nimitz took command of the Pacific Fleet on December 31, 1941. Every battleship in Pearl Harbor had been either sunk or damaged. Assuming command at the most critical period of the war in the Pacific, Admiral Nimitz successfully organized his forces to halt the Japanese advance despite the losses from the attack on Pearl Harbor and the shortage of ships, planes and supplies. Admiral Nimitz had a strategic question to focus his command on his goal of victory over Japan. Of every plan or suggestion he asked, “Will it get us to Tokyo?” Tom Daniels served under Admiral Nimitz and heard the question very often and took note of how it focused the staff.

Photo by Pablo Vareala

After the war Tom Daniels got a job with Kraft Foods and remembered the impact the question had on his thinking. He modified the question to “Will it sell cheese?” Kraft Foods is grateful. This is a strategic thinking question. It communicates and focuses on the goal and it makes the listener consider how his actions align with that goal.

When you are communicating, simplicity and repetition are powerful forces–combined they are overwhelming. Asking the question makes you and the listener think. And this question is applicable to any business. If you sell products — “Will it sell more brakes?” If you are in the service business — “Will it help the patient to better health?” or “Will it help our client be more profitable?”

Communicating effectively is challenge number one for most businesses. Our messages are often too complex to be repeated often enough to be make an impression. That is the magic of this question. It’s simple and direct. It focuses on the goal and it’s easy to bring in the conversation.

Try it. Will it sell more beer?

Remember, “We buy with our eyes.” Your label is the most important advertising you can do. Blanco Labels provides innovative design, quality printing on self adhesive labels and the equipment to apply. We believe service is as important as quality and together we will sell more beer.

About Ken Gasque. Ken Gasque is a brand developer, marketing planner and designer. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on his experiences developing brands (good and bad).

“…Better quality and cost less.”

Mike Pensinger, Brewmaster

By Ken Gasque

“Our Story” as presented on their web site—“The story of Parkway Brewing Company is a love story, a story that embodies the American Dream, a story of do-it-yourself determination, a story that continues on an exciting journey- much like the scenic highway for which Parkway Brewing is named. Two couples with a dream: a Master Brewer with a scientist’s brain and an artist’s palate, a visionary instigator with a dogged determination and their two creative and clever wives saw craft beer culture exploding across the nation and wanted to bring it home to the mountains of SW Virginia.

“Since opening in 2013 on Kessler Mill Road in tiny Salem, Virginia, Parkway Brewing Company has not only created some of the state’s tastiest brews, but they have created a place that has brought together a community of like-minded, free-spirited beer lovers with a penchant for the great outdoors.

“Their original and distinctive branding has cemented their place on the map amidst a sea of new breweries.”

What does Parkway Brewing Company like about Blanco Labels? “What I like most about Blanco Labels are their pressure sensitive labels, and their dependability, and how easy they are to apply, and faster, and cleaner than wet labels, and their quality, better quality and cost less. That is what I like best about Blanco Labels.” Mike Pensinger, Brewmaster.

About Ken Gasque

Ken Gasque is a brand developer, marketing planner and designer. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on his experiences developing brands (good and bad).

Do you need Brand-Aid?

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘What gets measured gets done’? I think it’s true because it focuses attention on the thing that is most important. Business consultant and writer Tom Peters agreed this was the soundest management advice he has ever heard. That’s a pretty strong endorsement.

But my favorite brand development quote from Tom Peters is ‘distinct… or extinct.’ Very succinct and elegant. If you are not different you will not survive.

Below are some other things you should check and measure to see if you need Brand-aid.

  1. Gradual loss of market share could be a leading indicator.
    Interviews show your consumer believes you and your competitor are the same.
  2. Do you really believe you can compete with the big guys?
  3. Do you believe in advertising? Outrageous advertising—special events, mascots, ridiculous co-ops—your beer and the Air National Guard, Free
  4. Beer for everyone when the home team scores 10 or more runs in a game, etc.
  5. Are you doing the same things that your competitors are doing?

We buy with our eyes. First impressions are made in 1/10th of a second… lasting impressions are made with quality and service. The easiest way to rebrand is to create a new and different but appealing label.

Every week Blanco Labels meets its commitments of millions of labels to manufacturers depending on them. At Blanco Labels we believe service is as important as quality.

We select our customers so that we can be a perfect fit. We are small enough for their business to matter and large enough to make sure their job gets done.

“Blanco does what they say they will do. Blanco delivers.” Joe and Wendy Hallock, Co-Owners and Founders, Chaos Mountain Brewing.

If your beer needs more attention, give us a call. We can help.

The Biggest Reason Your Advertising Fails

Most often your graphics and your brand do not align and send mixed signals to the consumer. Before they taste the quality of your beer they buy with their eyes.

Another Reason

I met Bob Evans Jr., CEO of Bob Evans Resturants, several years ago at a convention. He was the keynote speaker. After his speech I introduced myself to him and told him how much I enjoyed and appreciated his speech. We talked for a bit and then he asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was in advertising and marketing and that my company builds brands. He said, “I can give you a testimonial.” Really, we just met? “Well, a testimonial for advertising.”

Bob Evans began his story, “Years ago when my father retired and I took over the company, my background was accounting and I saw everything from an accounting perspective. I reviewed the company budget for the year and saw the money we had allocated for advertising. I said to myself, I can save the company a bundle by taking that off. And I did. I eliminated the entire advertising budget. That afternoon I set the company back five years. That is how long it took to recover from my folly. Now there is no one who is a greater believer in advertising than me.”

I thanked him for the story and he said, “You can use it however you like, it’s true.” Advertising is expensive and a lot of brewers forego advertising, doing so may be a mistake. Advertising may be your differentiator.

There Are Other Reasons Advertising Fails

1. Not believing in advertising is the number one reason for advertising failure because if you don’t believe you will not commit. The results will be less than spectacular and the brand will suffer. We buy with our eyes.
2. Not funding advertising sufficiently is a sure slow death. If you are not going to commit enough money to be effective, don’t advertise! Spend your money on the best labels you can create because you know they will be seen. We buy with our eyes.
3. Not having a clear differentiation. What makes your product different? It may be a great label is enough or a great bottle or both… Think Absolut Vodka. We buy with our eyes.

The number one rule of marketing is we buy with our eyes.

Some Advice About Your Labels and Your Marketing

By Ken Gasque

  • Creating a brand is essential if increasing sales is a goal.
  • Differentiation is vital. Your product has to be different if it is going to matter.
  • Design is your ultimate tool…we buy with our eyes.
  • Your label is more important than your product.
  • Learn to steal.

Steal Like an Artist, 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, by Austin Kleon

The first thing I did after reading this book was to order four more for my children (I will send a note and tell them to read it and read it to my grandchildren). The book is about creativity and how we achieve it. Most of our creativity comes from our take on the work of others. I had a college professor, maybe history, but that was a long time ago, say quite often, “There hasn’t been a new idea in the last 500 years.”  Of course, there were those of us who would challenge him but he always won. He could show how an idea came from a previous thinker. This book does a great job of illustrating and condoning theft.

Austin Kleon starts by listing some of the admitted thieves. “Art is theft.” Pablo Picasso. “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal…” T. S. Elliot. “The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.” David Bowie. There are many more quotes but you need to read the book. OK, I will offer this one last quote because it is a good one. “It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.” Mark Twain.

The book is more than stealing it is also about what you are doing to continue your education, productive procrastination and collecting stuff you love and know you will need some time in the future. And creative marketing.

It’s small, it’s an easy read, and it’s inspiring. Get some copies for birthdays or a gift for an artist or writer or as a gift for yourself. Let me know your favorite book on creativity and especially on design. Advertise, it pays.  Especially if you are doing creative marketing.

Creating a brand is easiest done by using design. Think Absolut Vodka Absolut Vodka went from nothing to the most profitable Vodka product based on nothing more than a bottle design.

Differentiation is branding. Your differentiation is your label. The best labels are pressure sensitive because they offer the most flexibility with printing. You need the best printing you can get to make a difference that matters.

Design because we buy with our eyes. Design differentiates. Your label may be the only advertising your customer will ever see about your product. They may never try your product if they are not interested in your label.

Read Steal Like an Artist and then look at other packaged goods outside the brewing industry. Find ideas that might apply to your product. Steal like an artist.


Why Choose Pressure Sensitive Labels?

Several very good reasons: they are easy to apply; they don’t require heat, solvent or water to adhere to packages, containers or bottles; and they offer a multitude of applications and printing. What’s more over 80% of all the labels in the market are Pressure Sensitive.

What is missing from our video?
The mess associated with solvent or water applications. Pressure Sensitive Labels need only a moderate amount of pressure to apply the label to a bottle or package.

It’s that simple.
No wonder over 80% of all labels are Pressure Sensitive.

Call us for more information 888.325.2626

Inspiring Ideas For Label Designs

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you do. An attractive label may be the only advertising and branding your prospects and customers might see.

Craft beer drinkers are loyal to their favorites but are always willing to expand their favorites list. While you can’t judge a book by its cover, it is still the first thing that makes you have a look at it to see if you are interested. And the same is true of your beer label if the label on your beer is one that is so attractive a shopper can’t help but notice, you’ll increase the chance that a curious customer will try your beer.

Draw Inspiration from Other Brands

When you design your beer label, you want it to authentically represent your brand, the beer’s style, and be attractive to your target market. That’s just good marketing sense. Even with those guidelines, you may still be stumped for a design. Here’s a little advice if your creative juices still aren’t flowing—do a little retail shopping and research the labels of top craft beer sellers.

Here are a few styles that are popular right now:

Clean and Minimal – A minimalist beer label can stand out on the shelf when compared to art-heavy, complex labels. A minimalist label has a large amount of white space, with one or two colors with an attractive typology and illustration. The Die Burke sour has a clean label with a humorous graphic element and plenty of white space. It will stand out on any shelf.

Artistic – Beer brewing is one part science and one part art. An artistic label using color and “painting techniques ” creates a sophisticated packaging. If you embrace the artistic side of brewing, a label style with artistic styling may appeal to an audience more appreciative of your brewing arts. The label on the Hopsynth sour ale is what we have in mind.

Old is New Again – Vintage and industrial style designs are currently popular design trends for homes, workspaces, restaurants, and beer labels. Simple, throwback looks add an attractive blue-collar yet contemporary classic look to labels and could very well represent your brewing workspace and equipment. 450 North’s Scarecrow IPA label has a vintage industrial look. Creating a beer label that resonates with customers and your brand is a necessity to selling your product and gathering a loyal following. When you’re ready to label your brew, we’re here to help. If you need ideas and help. Give us a call 888-325-2626

Three Rules for Naming Your New Beer

Ask any parent—naming your child is hard; naming your newest beer may be harder. There are library shelves full of baby naming books and you still went to school with three Johns. Beer names are an important part of a brewery’s brand and a good beer name can attract more customers so, you want to stand out with an original, memorable name if you can come up with one.

While this isn’t a list of the greatest beer names, this guide will be a good place to start to develop a great name to christen your beer. Like any set of rules, these aren’t foolproof, but these ideas will help you come up with a name that isn’t totally unappealing or awkward.

1. Make it Catchy

If a customer can’t pronounce or remember the name of your beer, they’re less likely to order it or recommend it to a friend. Keep your name short and simple. Unlike long URLs, your customers won’t be able to bookmark your beer’s name then look it up when they want to order or share with a friend. Overly Friendly IPA from Holy City sounds like a sharable beer, maybe a bit too much.

2. Make it Sing

Put those ENG 101 classes you took to work using some literary devices. Names that rhyme or use alliteration can make memorable names. Humor can be a great tool for naming beers too and though puns may be low-class humor, beer-related punny names are popular. Lagunita’s A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale is a good example of a beer name that sings.

3. Show some Class

Keeping it classy is a good principle to guide not only naming, but all sorts of branding and marketing decisions. You might be tempted to “disrupt the market” by being on the fringes of good taste or outright offensive, but naming your beer something that your grandmother wouldn’t order out loud is probably not where you want to be. Sexist, racist, and homophobic names may be a cheap way to get short-term media attention, but is bad for building a long-term customer base. Grandma would probably approve of Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout; it’s a classy name and oatmeal will keep you warm.

There are some terrible names for some really good beer out there; follow these rules and you might not fall in the same trap and you just might pick up some new fans because your name got their attention.

How did the Reformation Make Your Beer Bitter? And Better?

Based on NPR article by William Bostwick, author of The Brewer’s Tale.

Luther’s Reformation not only transformed the church it promoted a new ingredient which changed the way beer is made; and the labels today look pretty close to the images on the mugs in Luther’s day. Great beer has always had great labels.

“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!” — Martin Luther

Martin Luther did more than call for the transformation of the Church when he nailed his ninety-five theses on the church door in Wittenberg five hundred years ago. The discontent he aroused against the Roman Catholic Church doctrines and absolutism during the Reformation played a part in redefining beer production in Germany.

Beer was an important part of feudal German life; not only did it lubricate social settings, it provided important nutrition at a time when beer was far safer than water to drink. Luther was a true beer enthusiast. He pined for his wife’s homemade beer when traveling and he often debated church doctrine with friends and followers over a table full of local brews.

In Luther’s time the Catholic Church’s regulated many facets of European life including beer production. As centers of learning, monasteries preserved and controlled many of the production methods including gruit—the church prescribed mixture of herbs and botanicals—that provided flavor and acted to preserve the beer when there was no pasteurization or refrigeration. The sale of gruit was also an important revenue source for the church.

Though the church promoted and controlled the production and sale of gruit, Germans had used hops in beer centuries before the Reformation. After Luther posted his debating points, protests against the absolute control of the Roman Catholic Church gathered steam and Germanic princes widely changed local beer formulations replacing gruit with an abundant, low-cost substitute, bitter hops, which changed the taste, preserved the beer better, and reduced the tax burden on the princes.

So, the next time you bottle your hoppy IPA, raise one to the beer drinking Luther, his 95 Theses, and his followers whose switch to hops reformed the church and brought us closer to the beer we know today and their labels.

We might even think that the labels of today have come full circle. Luther did not like the pope and his contempt was evident in the book his students put together listing all of the slurs and insults he leveled at the pope called Table Talk. As Martin Luther became more famous or infamous Lutheran merchandise was produced including mugs featuring the pope as the Antichrist.

So as NPR puts it… “If you were a Protestant brewer and wanted to thumb your nose at Catholicism, you used hops instead of herbs”… and a great label.