To celebrate a colleague’s embarking on a journey to San Francisco, the Communiqué PR team recently visited Seattle’s Fremont Brewing Co
It was my first time there, but before I even walked through the door, I could feel the energy from the outdoor seating area. It was full of smiling people enjoying glasses of beer on a summer evening.
While we were appreciating the atmosphere and, of course, cold beer, something we noticed sparked a debate. There were no signs outside the brewery to identify it. The only Fremont Brewing identifier was the label printed on the glass. So, why wasn’t the logo on a large sign outside the building, informing Seattle residents of this amazing spot?
As a marketing student and an aspiring PR professional, I was confused. I haven’t been in the business long, but this goes against everything I have learned about marketing. Businesses usually aim to gain exposure and create a strong brand, which then influences people’s purchasing decisions. However, Fremont didn’t even have a sign; how could this build a brand with a strong following?
Lucky for us, we discovered we were sitting next to the owner, Matt Lincecum. Naturally, we asked about the absence of signage. I was particularly intrigued because I drive past the brewery every night on my way home. On more than one occasion, I’ve looked for a sign to connect a name to this spot that never fails to draw a crowd (even on a cloudy day).
Matt shared his reasoning: The absence of signage sparks people’s curiosity about the brewery and instantly creates an exclusive feel that makes people want to become part of it. I realized he had executed this unconventional approach perfectly. I personally and completely fell into Matt’s trap. I constantly mention the “mysterious place” to my friends, wanting to know what was drawing in such a crowd, and suggesting we try it out.
My next question was this: If you didn’t go past the brewery, how would you know it existed? The answer in Fremont’s case is word-of-mouth. Matt has harnessed the power of customer referrals to succeed in a growing industry amid plenty of competition.
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After seeing Fremont’s thriving business, I question the approaches I’ve learned in my marketing classes. Clearly, there are different paths to marketing a business and creating a strong brand. Matt’s unconventional approach—disregarding signage and traditional marketing—has been hugely successful; the crowds outside the brewery are testament to this.
So, if you have a well-received and successful product, service, or business, do you have to spend time and effort gaining exposure, or will word-of-mouth and intrigue suffice?
Please share your comments below; we’d love to know your thoughts.
A version of this story originally appeared on Communiqué PR's blog.