“Voodoo Ranger “
The setting was GABF’19. We got free tickets to a solid beer convention via CraftByEDU! Probably one of the only online contests- we’d ever won in our life. Who could say no to that? No shit there we were, we arrived at the New Belgium booth at a designated time on day 3 of the convention. Immediately we hit it off with Joanna; whom is the Connoisseur Community Manager at New Belgium. We proceeded to talk and drink with her as much as possible. All they wanted us to do was take a photo, show some color, talk about ourselves and that was it. Fuuuuuuuck no, you’re New Belgium brass? We asserted “you’re our new best friends” immediately. Other brewers and advanced cicerones were among us. An all-star bunch from all over America. Anyways… Asset identified and HUMINT (Human Intelligence) in full effect. Drunken Warcloud tactics for sure! Joanna was super cool and well articulated. She kept bringing drinks, convincing us to try everything. Amazing individual and amazing beer. So after sampling everything at the booth we exchanged info and that was it. The hunt for getting hammered even more continued. We wandered the mile high city for days and drank enough for 2 months, because it took 2 months to recover.
After exchanging plenty of e-mails, we got connected with another New Belgium heavy-hitter. It was Dave Knospe, Brand manager of Voodoo Ranger. Dave specializes in beer package design. Had a career in marketing and then decided to go back to school in 2014 and graduated with an MBA. Previously he worked for a pet food company that had been around for 125 years. He took from that company two major things: “Emotion and perceived taste” which are concepts that mean everything in affordable luxuries such as beer.
Warcloud Brewing Company: Yo, thanks for taking some time with us man. Let us just say a lot of our US Army Ranger buddies drink nothing but Voodoo Ranger. It’s like a cult following you probably never knew you had. Big shout out to 3rd Battalion Rangers Warewolf, Mongoose, and Webb.
Dave Knospe: Haha. That is awesome man, I had no idea. But yea man glad to help out in any way possible.
WBC: Right into the nitty gritty… Voodoo Ranger has the #1 brand release in craft beer history. What problems have you faced?
DK: The biggest problem in CPG (consumer packaged goods) is that your work sells straight to retailers, and then consumer interests. We aim to balance the needs, and ask ourselves does this work for us? Our flowchart goes: consumer, distributor, retailers but with a brand so big we have to work it the other way around. The level of competition is incredible. It’s a different animal now. Branding will promote the point of purchase. Therefore we market to the retailers with packaging and design.
WBC: Interesting take on the market man, makes sense. Big question: What books do you recommend for us to read? What’s in your library right now?
DK: “Contagious” and “invisible influence” by Jonah Berger. I’ve read those books in school and have them on my desk. It basically gives details as to how to sell your product with some cool type of telepathy and storytelling.
WBC: Okay… Loaded question. Who were the major players in setbacks, if you have any? What has the market shown you in terms of consumer behaviors? What’s your approach to marketing?
DK: The setbacks are based on how much influence we can possibly get and also being invested in every part of the brewery. Consumers are interested in all types of things so it’s hard to gauge most of their behaviors. At least now we have consumer analytics and sales reports. Marketing always gets a story treatment, telling the story on packaging, bringing in new people to consume, and it’s all done with a balance. Then it moves over to sales and the concept gets pushed. We usually have 5 different campaigns going on at a time. We embed them with pop culture influences to get surveys done. Take the feedback whether negative or positive and develop packaging and beer recipes a bit further in depth.
WBC: How do you keep your major players involved and motivated?
DK: I’d have to say… the biggest motivation is success. Winning leads to more winning! Based on sharing good feedback. Sales numbers, untappd reviews, etc. Level of trust is everything between the ranks, so be sure to share the success.
WBC: How does production look?
DK: Fort Collins is the main location. Office is in Asheville and Ft. Collins. On a 20 hectoliter I believe. With a taproom immediately ready. It’s kind of hard working directly above the brewery. I fight myself everyday from going downstairs for a beer, well almost everyday. I’ve got a pretty sweet setup. LOL!
WBC: That’s legit! What was your marketing plan from the beginning?
DK: West Coast IPA, Imperial, and then a juicy haze IPA. These were the beginnings of the Voodoo Ranger and making a portfolio. It’s its own monster now. Loyalty in beer is almost gone. So in order to change that narrative we recon and create a rotating IPA. Approximately every 4 months in duration. Creating new identities for a couple months. Continuously.
WBC: Talk to us about the biggest elephant in the room, for every business “Branding”?
DK: Well we work with One designer exclusively. I get to have creative meetings with him. We talk about everything from; what is our consumer going to take away from this? Colorway should be like this? We create moods and try to incorporate something that’s All-American.
WBC: Were there any scheduled objective apps or tools that you use to campaign? In example our team uses Asana, everyone has the app on their smartphone.
DK: We use Basecamp and a mood board, to better explain the identity. Visually populate everything with photos and artful ideas as much as possible.
WBC: Once you’ve accomplished objectives, what do new milestones look like?
DK: It’s all about sales perspective and getting placement. With marketing communication is key. The fact that we have an illustrated character it’s easier to tell the story and achieve new milestones. Now that we’ve turned the Voodoo Ranger into a cartoon we can tell more stories.
WBC: How did you create one of the best company cultures in the world?
DK: It’s better to be polarizing by the few that love you.
WBC: That was a powerful statement. Duly noted. Individually what’s next for you?
DK: I’m all in on voodoo and trying to grow it. Learning other sides of the business.
WBC: Solid brother, thanks for your time and insight bro!