S2 E4: JON ZERIVITZ – BEER & BRAND CREATOR

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“Mind if I have a beer?” That’s what Jon Zerivitz said to us as he sat down for our interview with him. He brought the beer, so it was an especially polite question. And a no brainer.

Having fallen in love with Guinness by the time he graduated high school, Jon was well on his way to becoming fully educated on brewing and beers with personality. Aside from just enjoying the beverage, he started learning about the history of the big names in beer along with honing his design eye.

The vibe of the brewing community and the communal attitude of the industry held a special appeal, and Jon decided with his co-founders to establish Union Craft Brewing, which has become a burgeoning cornerstone of Baltimore. Jon told us that Union’s goal is to cultivate a family feeling, both internally and externally. That sentiment comes through on their beer cans, on their Instagram, and even in the liquid itself.

Jon’s a creative force to be reckoned with, but a mellow, articulate, fun force. Our conversation ranged from concert posters to Eddie Murray (if you don’t know, here: https://www.mlb.com/player/eddie-murray-119579) to the fact that “new is everything.” Clear creative vision and chops mixed with sensibilities that are suited perfectly for a guy who has built a beer brand from the ground up. Here are his Three Big How’s:

THREE BIG HOW’S

LOOK AT LEGACY BRANDS

You want to learn something about the business you intend to get into? Might make sense to study the history. Jon suggests getting deep into the legacy brands. How have they evolved? What choices have they made? How is their brand structured? What are their creative and design hallmarks? This will obviously get you up to speed fast, and will also enable you to see some of the trends that they share. You can leverage or avoid those things depending on your perspective.

 LOOK OUTSIDE

To help you think differently and avoid falling into the traps of the “sea of sameness” within industries and creative points of view, look outside. Other brands, other industries, other creative avenues. Packaging, branding, and brand voice directions coming from outside your home industry will strengthen your own ideas.

 GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT

Jon talked about the importance of demographics and knowing who you’re trying to appeal to. That’s going to be helpful for any entrepreneur, business, or creative person. But he also stressed how social media has changed the way most audiences think: they want newness. Yes, you need to make sure they see things multiple times and they understand what your brand stands for, but they really want fresh imagery, content, and products. Attention spans can be lost quickly if your creative is to repetitive.

BONUS: DON’T FORGET THE LONG VIEW

What do you want to be? What’s the meaning of your brand? This still matters even when you consider the point above. Determine what your goals are and what you want people to think of you. Jon discussed being a regional beer brand in a way that didn’t seem inferior to being a national beer brand. That kind of nuanced differentiation can help guide your decisions so you can truly maintain the meaning of your brand.

We know you’ll enjoy this episode as much as we did. Jon is another guest who has accomplished an immense feat, yet he’s fully grounded and also continuing to grind for the future. Drink Union’s beers and look at their graphic language, and you’ll be as happy and impressed as we are.

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