ARE CRAFT BREWERS RUNNING OUT OF NAMES?

A recent report by NPR indicated that the tremendous growth in craft breweries (now over 3000 of them) has resulted in them running out of names for their beers. Here is the complete story:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/01/05/369445171/craft-brewers-are-running-out-of-names-and-into-legal-spats

Of course this is utter nonsense. Brewers will always be able to find unique names. They just may not be able to use the names that are top of mind. It won’t be easy. Hint, hire some professional help!

For example, the article says that numerous “hop” names are already trademarked. “Hopscotch” is a popular name with many breweries using this name. Another popular name is some variation of IPA “Bitter End.”

Here is a novel idea…why not develop a strategic naming approach that leverages the brewery and develops a family approach to name development? As an example, look at the Russian River Microbrewer. As of today they have 21 beers on tap. The names include Pliny The Elder, Row 2, Hill 56, Blind Pig I.P.A. and Dribble Belt. In short, it looks like they are pulling names out of a hat. There is no consistent approach to naming. The end result is a trademark attorney’s delight because eventually they will hit a conflict (and may not know it).

But if they took a strategic approach to naming they could do two important things. First of all, they would build a brand. Second, they could put a stake in the ground that protects their names.

Here is one method that would yield ownable names for the Russian River Brewing Company. Use the “Russian” theme in all the names. You could use the brute force method and call your beers “Russian River IPA” or “Russian River Blond Ale.” Or you could shortcut Russian River by using the initials RR in the name. A more discreet way to brand the brewery would be to use Russian names as names for the beers. Here are some female Russian names that could be great beer names:

• Alexandra
• Elena
• Izabella
• Lucya
• Malvina

Are craft brewers running out of names? Nah. Will craft brewers have to work harder to get beer names that will pass trademark scrutiny? You betcha. I look forward to helping a few develop great names (and BTW, I’m open to a barter arrangement!).

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2 Responses to ARE CRAFT BREWERS RUNNING OUT OF NAMES?

  • We sometimes go to a large beer store that sells single bottles of, probably, thousands of different brews. It’s one of the few places we can find some of the hard-to-find brands we’ve heard about and wanted to try. My wife looks for certain brands on our wish list, but my time is usually spent just walking around reading the names the breweries come up with for their products. Many are very creative, and make me wonder what process they used to name them. Some are fairly common and predictable, but most are fascinating. It seems like there must be some genius locked in a room somewhere whose only job is to pick cool names. Possible?

  • In my experience, brew names are developed by the brewmaster. These folks are creative by nature and so that is why you see such wonderful, creative names. However, most brewmasters are not branding or trademark experts. Sometimes that gets them in trouble!

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