Every Good Brand Has a Beard

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Splashed across the news yesterday was something rather alarming about football’s best friend, and in perfect timing with the official start of Oktoberfest. The headline read: “Brewery Uses Man’s Beard to Make Beer.” Yes, Brewmaster John Maier’s chin hair has not been shaved since 1978, and the follicles behind the highly regarded yeast are harvested and fermented for the handcrafted Rogue Ales brew.

Huh, you say?

Other than the fact that it sounds disgusting, why as sports marketers should we care about one man’s 34 year-old whiskers being responsible for the spicy taste of a beloved bottle of artisan ale? Because the small Rogue Ales Brewery in Newport, OR is on to something, something big, whether they realize it or not.

You see, while the company’s bestseller is the famous facial-hair concoction called Dead Guy Ale, what the brewery is really selling successfully is its story: the beard behind the beer.

So many times, consumers form a bond with the creator, the spokesperson or the mission at the base of a product, company or brand – not just a loyalty to its functionality – making the company truly extraordinary.

Take brands like Wendy’s, Johnson & Johnson, the New Orleans Saints, and Justin Bieber. They all seem very different from one another, but one thing that they all have in common is a strong following by consumers because of the personal connection they have to the tale behind the scenes (okay, backstage in Bieber’s case).

People love Wendy’s because of its family legacy, watching the founder’s red-headed daughter grow up. Johnson & Johnson shampoo, along with it’s array of various products, sells a similar sentimental feeling as Wendy’s – the nostalgia of the baby products your mother trusted using on you. For the New Orleans Saints, its the symbol of hope that fans all over the country gravitate toward that only an underdog surviving tragedy can provide, and as for Bieber, his rise to fame from humble, hair-tossing beginnings is what keeps girls young and old screaming from high seats in sold out stadiums.

As younger generations become bigger consumers, their tendencies toward being experientialists, valuing authenticity and the humanity behind brands (sometimes known as hipsters) will be a critical critique for companies to make in order to stay relevant in such an organic-driven mentality. So it’s time to get a beard for your business and stand out from those brands who are too scared of the scruff.

What companies are you loyal to because of their story?