The Things which BrewDog Believe In

In Customer Experiences with Soul Maria and I provide an in-depth look at Scottish brewery BrewDog. Co-founder James Watt gave us permission to include the BrewDog charter, which he wrote along with many of the most senior and long-standing members of the business to encapsulate the essence of BrewDog.

BrewDog was growing in size, and so the manifesto was written to help those working for the company understand easily mission, the vision, the values and ultimately, the very being of BrewDog.

Credit: BrewDog

As an Equity Punk investor, I have access to all of the updates directly from James. He recently shared an update with results from the first half of 2018, in which he wrote the following:

We are now into the 6th month of what has been a pretty exciting and turbulent year to date. We have definitely had more ups than downs but we have certainly faced some big challenges in the first 5 months of the year and we will definitely face a few more in the months ahead due to our growth.

By any measure 2018 is shaping up to be our biggest year of growth so far and I wanted to share 3 very cool growth-related stats:

  1. We currently hold the record for most consecutive years on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 (at 7 years) and our growth is only getting faster. This is like Usain Bolt smashing his own 100m record.
  2. At the end of 2018 we will have grown 12 times (yes twelve times!) in just 5 years from 2013. By the end of the year we will be 12 times bigger as a company that we were in 2013.
  3. Our rate of growth from 2018 is projected to be around 85% which is pretty much our highest growth rate ever and is even more impressive off the solid base number from 2017.

It is also important to have context around our growth. We are not nearly as tiny as we were, but in the context of the global beer market and our large competitors we are still absolutely tiny. We only account for 0.016% of the global beer market and our largest competitor is 2,500 times our size. So, we still have a lot of growing to do in order to fulfil our mission as a company and truly change the world of beer for the better.

In May we broke all our records (having previously broken them in April!) and shipped 48,000 from Ellon to our UK and export customers. This is a fantastic effort especially from our sales, production and operations team.

2018 has been absolutely killer for our BrewDog bars. May was the first ever £3m month for UK BrewDog bars and our new openings in 2018 have all smashed it and are cumulatively 16% over their budget. Like for like sales in the UK are way ahead of the industry at 8.2% and our total growth for 2018 year to date is a crazy 98%.

Credit: BrewDog

So it was interesting this week to see this new video from BrewDog in which people from across the business describe exactly what it is that they believe in.

Along with the video, BrewDog also published their written charter:

————————————————————————————————————————

These are the things that we believe in.

These are core beliefs shared by everyone at BrewDog. Values we fight for every day that underpin our business at every turn. This is #BrewDogBelieve.

We believe in world class craft beer.

And we are on a mission to make other people as passionate about great craft beer as we are. To put the taste, the passion and the craftsmanship back into people’s beer glasses. This is our true north.

We believe in community ownership.

We are proud that our business is part-owned by a community of over 80,000 beer lovers from all over the planet. Our Equity Punks are the heart and soul of BrewDog and are with us every step of the way.

We believe in Independence.

In an industry dominated by multi-national conglomerates controlled by faceless accountants and balance sheets, we are making a stand for independence. Authenticity is everything. We are drawing a line in the sand for craft.

We believe that business can be a force for good.

Giving back is everything. Via our groundbreaking Unicorn Fund, we give away 20% of our annual profits. 10% is shared equally between our teams and 10% is donated to charities chosen by our team and community.

We believe in radical transparency.

All 326 beer recipes, given away for free to the global homebrewing community. Our accounts and financial results freely available. Our profits and future plans shared. The future of business is to hide nothing. Involve everyone.

We believe in being a great employer.

We completely believe that our long term destiny will be dependent on how well we look after our amazing people. We care about great craft beer and incredible people. Without us we are nothing.

We believe in taking a stand.

Most companies are scared to take a stand for the things they believe in. WE. ARE. NOT. SCARED. We are passionate advocates for doing things the right way and being true to yourself.

And finally, we believe that good people drink good beer.

People like you.

These are the things that we believe in.

————————————————————————————————————————

In his book Business for Punks, Watt writes that one of the core principles is that internal = external. This is the idea that what is inside a company is reflected on the outside, i.e. that which is public facing. So for example, the company should never be embarrassed, and indeed proud, should any member of the public happen to read an internal document, email or report.

One interesting example of this was the sharing, also this week, of a photograph of the BrewDog customer service pledge which hangs in their head office.

What makes BrewDog interesting to me is their attitude. They are now growing up, having gone through the teenage spurt, they are now becoming more adult, with more responsibilities to a much larger number of staff.

As you can see by the way the charter is written, the language is still irreverent, but punchy and makes its points well. I don’t know how many other companies have “Don’t be a dick” as one of their pledges, but many could learn from this I am sure.

Credit: Emma DeSena

It’s great. No nonsense down-to-earth mindfulness where people have enough self-awareness to understand the impact of their own behaviour on others.

Really great companies and really great brands consciously and continuously nurture their cultures, and this is ultimately what helps them to achieve great results, year after year. As BrewDog say, “take ownership, challenge everything, prevent problems and continuously improve”.

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