For the beer fans out there I have a question for you: When is the last time you had a cold, refreshing Budweiser? You know, the classic, iconic, King of Beers?
I think I can hear the beer snobs out there answering 'Not for ages, who drinks Bud anymore?' You likely prefer some kind of triple filtered, quadruple hopped, double bocked India Top Secret super pale ale, (aged for 18 months in oak casks imported from Bordeaux).
(For the record, I like Bud and Bud Light, so there.)
But the reason I bring up Budweiser on the blog today was this interesting piece from Ad Week - Budweiser Woos Hipsters With Artisanal Wooden Crates and Throwback Logos. Here is an excerpt from the Ad Week piece:
(Budweiser) today revealed it's planting 10,000 vintage wooden crates in stores across the country this week. The packages will contain 18 bottles of Bud adorned with a classic label from either 1918 (beginning of Prohibition), 1933 (end of Prohibition) or 1976 (the brand's 100th anniversary) as well as two pilsner glasses. The crates were handmade by a North Carolina shop called Vintage Editions.
Additionally, the throwback labels will appear on 1.6 million Bud bottles to be shipped in the next several weeks.
Why am I bringing this up?
Because I think it is interesting, (the number one reason I blog about anything), and also because it is about beer, (the third reason I would choose a topic for the blog, the second reason being some kind of a take about basketball).
What is interesting about the move by Bud, is that beyond a simple re-packaging tactic it is also a play to evoke and leverage Bud's rich history and mythos as America's traditional and largest brewer. Bud has been a part of America longer than any of us have, and likely even if many of us have moved on to more (allegedly) 'better' beers, that most of us have memories of family and friends and Bud.
But somehow along the way Bud (and other mass-market brands), become not 'cool' any more. Bud is too generic, too large, too mass-produced for many folks. For them, whether it is beer or tomatoes or cheese or even physical products like furniture or clothes what is valued is new, unique, and something called 'artisanal.' I don't want the thing that lots of other people have, (or have access to). So while Bud can't change and somehow become hip or artisanal, what it can do I think, via smart messaging, packaging, and leveraging a strength of theirs, (their history), is remind a new generation of potential customers that they are still around, still relevant, still cool, (in an ironic way, see Blue Ribbon, Pabst).
What's the connection to HR/Talent/Workplaces?
Well, lots of what we do (and have done) in HR probably seems more like Bud and not much like Pliny the Elder (Google it).
But just like Bud is still a pretty refreshing drink, especially on a hot day, lots of what we do in HR and Talent is still relevant and valuable - even if it doesn't seem cool anymore. Maybe there are a lot of old-sounding processes for training or leadership development or even mentoring that still have value (and you can prove it), but just need a refresh, some re-packaging, and a way to remind the new wave of customers of their value.
Maybe instead of re-inventing everyrhing, you should start by considering re-packaging the best of what you already have first.
And don't be a beer snob.