To get the flavor of Bauhaus Brew Labs, consider that its first brand campaign involved a Morgan Freeman impersonation. That Shawshank Redemption monologue gag was how the craft beer brand launched its Kickstarter video in June 2014, and it set the tone for everything Bauhaus did after.
The Minnesota craft beer brand has since grown in reputation and sales, but the wonderfully low-budget brand voice in that Kickstarter video has become a mainstay of one of the most fun, irreverent and authentic small brands in the state.
The drive to stand out in the flooded landscape of craft breweries has given rise to some of the most creative, effective and just zany brand-building campaigns in recent memory. The sector is particularly feisty due to a combination of its comparative youthfulness, product category (beer), and devil-may-care attitude.
But it is also crammed with hip, similarly bearded competitors launching on reclaimed barn wood-adorned taprooms. And that’s just in Minnesota. And with an overall beer market facing plateauing growth, standing out is more important than ever.
Bauhaus boasts the hip trappings that would be expected of other craft breweries, such as branded Zubaz leggings swag. But it also has broken through the din with a bold design, wildly colorful palette and disdain for the minimalist, sensitive aesthetic typical of the craft beer category. Its packaging is a nod to the geometrics-inclined post-War German Bauhaus School after which the brewery is named.
The Bauhaus brand is active on social media and understands that maintaining a constant connection with brand fans is essential. But Bauhaus also sets itself apart by bringing a zeal and energy to its communications by abandoning any sense of embarrassment without resorting to dumbed-down comments.
Pop culture references are its forte and it doesn’t seem to matter to the brand if anyone is watching the dozens of videos it has released. Bauhaus embraces the term “joyous idiots,” in the best possible way — it’s not seeking a smooth, polished persona by any means. Find out more in our conversation below.
— Bauhaus Brew Labs (@BauhausBrewLabs) February 2, 2017
brandchannel: How is having a sense of humor key to the Bauhaus brand’s DNA?
“People don’t often run across a brand that can laugh at itself,” Bauhaus spokesman Jesse Caffrey (right) told us. He says that the brand’s voice evolved organically from its people and environment, which he calls “chock full of creatives who are confident about what is being made, and who don’t take themselves too seriously.”
Caffrey says it’s a beer business, first and foremost, adding (frankly) that “Beer gets you inebriated. Beer makes you feel good and let down your guard. People get together to drink beer and have fun. Where’s the room for stone-faced seriousness? We’re not talking about a Scotch legacy.”
BC: What an you tell us about the Bauhaus community?
It helps that the brand is run by a tight knit group of family relations, Caffrey comments. It defines itself as “a family of musicians, scientists, artists and—above all—beer lovers, aiming to reinvigorate the spirit of the family brewery.” And Bauhaus says that eight of its employees are related and nearly everyone else at the brand is separated by only one degree from that family.
BC: How does Bauhaus cater to local fans?
In step with the majority of craft beers in 2017, Bauhaus is fiercely local, Caffrey comment. Like its bigger crosstown friendly rival Surly, Bauhaus Brew Labs’ interests go far beyond beer. At its Minneapolis tap room, Bauhaus hosts mini markets with local craftspeople, clever needlepoints and vinyl records. The brand says it hosts these in part because it keeps it grounded with its deep, Twin Cities social network but also because it’s what the founders like. “Bauhaus gets involved in a wide variety of events because we’re interested in what our friends are doing,” said Caffrey. “We’re interested in the arts.”
— Down in the Valley (@DownNthevalley) January 21, 2017
BC: What’s next for the brand?
Caffrey says Bauhaus plays to stay lean and busy. “We stretch ourselves thin to keep our level of service scaling with our growth.” Further, it plans to “keep on course and continue to innovate. Bauhaus has a fun, inclusive message that resonates. The market is producing imitators.”
BC: How do you plan to grow while staying true to the brand?
As brands experience exponential growth, there is always the danger of losing touch with the values that made and defined them, Caffrey allows. Bauhaus is keenly aware of this and he says the brand team is committed to staying colorful without losing focus on the base that helped it grow. “Getting big and staying local is simply a matter of having time for every person that wants to connect with you … We’re just going to do our thing.”