Utepils is a microbrewery founded in Minneapolis and dedicated to brewing classic, true-to-style beers that are traditional, timeless, and always delicious. Whether enjoyed in your own home or at the friendly taproom at the brewery itself (conveniently located minutes from downtown in a delightful setting of pine trees and creeks), you’ll find that the folks of Utepils have created not only a great beer experience but also a place where one can enjoy great new craft beer experiences. Made the old-fashioned way in time-honored European traditions.
Before their opening, we worked with Utepils to make as many people as possible aware of this unique experience and to encourage them to make their way to the brewery along the Bassett Creek to enjoy a distinctive range of beers. There they could also enjoy the friendliness and conviviality of the team that makes Utepils a stand-out in the microbrew world. Our work has encompassed nearly all of their marketing touchpoints from new product launches (packaging, promotion) to enhanced taproom experiences (signage, collateral) to a robust multi-channel marketing and communications campaign. We are proud that Utepils considers us one of their key partners and we are thrilled with their success.
In the beginning, Utepils had the vision, the people, the micro-brewery itself, and a logo. They knew they wanted to create more than great beers: they wanted the experience of an European beer hall where friends and family could congregate and enjoy one another and have an unique experience. We helped by creating all the taproom signage (navigation, education, inspiration).
Though Utepils knew that the microbrewery taproom experience was key to awareness and brand advocacy, the route to success also meant that Utepils needed to develop a strong retail presence so beers experienced in the taproom could be also enjoyed at home.
We knew we needed a strategic framework for the launch of new beers. Building on the master brand framework, we created a full-color territory study to map out existing and opportunity areas for the brand. We wanted to be sure that the brand was shoppable in all distribution points (taproom, in retail, online) to reduce confusion.
We kept pace with the Utepils brand development and created the right message and media for the brand at the right time. As excitement for the Utepils brand began to build in 2018 as they received numerous awards at beer competitions, we and Utepils recognized that this presented an opportunity to drive awareness. Our multifaceted program included print, digital billboards, point-of-sale, free-standing banners, and pallet wraps.
That task required an integrated and comprehensive marketing campaign (digital and traditional). We created a full-on digital marketing campaign for Utepils (eMail marketing, social media graphics, website banners) as well as a wide range of shopper marketing tactics such as banners, temporary signage, point-of-sale items, posters, promotional items, website content and creation, and even a vehicle wrap: the beer truck.
The frequent launch of new beers required that we have a vision, a master brand packaging design strategy, and a clear understanding of the relevant brand equities that needed to be incorporated into new products for a cohesive brand presence. Additionally, we created and placed traditional media such as billboards, print advertising, beer launch calendars, and distributor communications. Along the way the Utepils-branded merchandise became a popular item as well and we created a full range of items that highlight customers’ affinity for the brand — which is growing exponentially.
Ewald the Golden was their best-selling beer. Leveraging the equity of this popular brew, SOULO created a rich campaign to push greater awareness, including print, digital marketing, and social media to drive this product to higher levels of popularity.
Utepils brought a great deal of equity to other related brands. We worked with them on several co-branded beers for Cowboy Jack’s Restaurants, and a one-of-a-kind beer for the popular local sports station, KFAN. The publicity from these partnerships and their loyal audiences again drove Utepils to new heights of sales.
So much of the Utepils success is based on the expanded experience of the brand – experiencing new beers in the taproom and sharing that experience with friends.
The pandemic caused Utepils to re-think their marketing model. We supported Utepils in their interim focus on canned beers at all points of retail distribution. Then, when the State of Minnesota allowed for safe re-opening, SOULO was there with a wide range of “Utepils is Open” messaging, both online and in-market.
Utepils re-opened in late May, after the mandatory shutdowns. Reservations for the limited seating areas in the taproom exceeded capacity and the team managed to configure the space to find a way to make anyone who wanted to experience Utepils to be able to do it – whether in the taproom, the outside dining area, or at retail outlets that continue to see great sales for Utepils. Sales and brewery visits have rebounded nicely. The taproom is seeing steady traffic, and interest in new beers that Utepils has on their planning board has never been higher. The future looks bright.
We are proud to be Utepils’ partner in driving their success in happy times and challenging circumstances. Great communications thinking at start-up laid the foundation, and traffic-building, loyalty-driving tactics continue to help the brand grow. Agile and responsive, we customize our strategies and communications to fit the brand’s need and circumstances with right message/right time tactics.