When I buy beer or wine, I have to admit, I choose the most artistic and creative label.

Yes, I do prefer certain beers and wines, but then within the category, I look to see which has the best branding, the most creativity in marketing. It’s like an art form, the fonts and designs and messaging, and I appreciate all the effort that goes into it.

So I was intrigued to read about the marketing philosophy behind Arrogant Bastard Ale in a recent Inc. magazine issue. Now the 10th largest craft brewer, the company winged their marketing because they had no money to invest way back in the beginning.

Here’s what they did to generate a following, and it goes to show that good old-fashioned marketing and authenticity wins the day every time. It’s not deep pockets necessarily; it’s ingenuity.

Rule #1: Attitude is Everything. They were very in-your-face, with messaging on one of the first labels that said: This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. Like telling your kids not to do something when you really want them to do it. Works every time. Their strategy created a loyal following – largely because the company wasn’t begging to be liked. Confidence and the belief that you’re doing something fantastic and unique and necessary is essential.

Rule #2: Pick a Fight. The company is anti-corporate and iconoclastic. He’s trying to pave a path that does not follow the routine, or look anything like, the big beer brands. And he’s succeeding, to the tune of a $100 million business to date.

Rule #3: Don’t Fit In. Let’s face it – anytime you’ve wanted to fit into the mainstream, you feel a little like you’re selling your soul. Being who you are, who only you can be, that’s the ticket to success. In Stone Brewing’s corner, creating 22-ounce “bomber bottles” makes sure their beer stands out – and taller than – other 12-ounce bottles. Be different. It grabs attention.

Rule #4: Ally with Other Outcasts. The thing about being different is that pretty much everybody is different – except for the small group of cheerleaders and football players whom you didn’t like anyway. The owners of Stone Brewing created the San Diego Brewers Guild in 1997 to ally local brewers. Safety in numbers. Strength in numbers.

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