Beer, value propositions and a half moon.

I was in Bruges during the summer of 2018 and not surprisingly it involved the consumption of beer (!) alongside a bit of culture. If you’ve never been before, then you should – it’s a beautiful city.

Anyway, one of the highlights was visiting the Brouwerij De Halve Maan (Half Moon Brewery) with my 12 year old son. We had a brilliant 45 minute tour of the old and still active city centre brewery that told the story of their company, the brewing process and of course included a very welcome taste of Brugse Zot beer (literally translated as Bruges Fool).

Halve Mann is the only remaining brewery left in the city (there were once 7) and is run by the sixth generation of the same family. It brews several (strong but fantastic) beers using a top fermentation technique for the people of Bruges and whoever else would like to drink it! And to improve production capacity, they now have a bottling plant outside the city centre and transport all of the beer via a 3.2km pipe under the city! Yes, an underground beer pipe! Things are topped off by a beer shop, restaurant and terrace as well as tours in every conceivable language.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, aside from it being a great experience, it also reminded me how powerful a strong value proposition can be.

De Halve Maan’s business can be summarised in a simple value proposition:

  • WHO THEY ARE: A family run brewery
  • WHAT THEY DO: Brew award winning beers
  • CUSTOMERS: The people of Bruges and any other visitors who love beer
  • DIFFERENTIATOR: the only remaining brewery in Bruges AND a 3.5km underground beer pipe
  • VALUE: their fermentation technique and centuries of experience = top tasting/quality award winning beer

It’s not quite as simple as that though because you can tell that a lot of work has gone into really understanding their customers and delivering products and services that meet their needs.

By having a clear value proposition they are able to:

  • BE CONSISTENT: they have a brilliant story that all the brewery colleagues tell consistently and passionately. They live and breathe the values of the brewery and are proud to be part of its success
  • FOCUS ON THEIR STRENGTH: they focus on what they’re brilliant at and have tailored their offering over time to fit with the changing needs of customers
  • AVOID FEATURES: they tell a story and focus on differentiators and benefits instead of just features and functions
  • BE CONFIDENT: they have a clear positioning and messaging that runs through everything that they do; they can back up their claims with proof and strong reasons to believe
  • CREATE PRIDE AND TRUST: every brewery colleague has been part of turning diversity into success; there is a strong sense of togetherness and emotional attachment which in turn builds trust with customers

De Halve Maan have focused on doing something that they are hugely passionate about, can be the best in the world at and which is economically sound. A brilliant hedgehog concept if ever I saw one (that’s a post for another day!).

Developing a value proposition can be one of the hardest things a business does. You don’t necessarily need to have a clear proposition when you start out in business, but it is a vital foundation to create clarity, differentiation and consistency for the way you position and talk about who you are, what you do and why you matter.

Indeed, Halve Maan may never have consciously developed their proposition – but they definitely have a great one. And isn’t it a fun way to show how a simple proposition can so successfully flow through everything you do?

If your Belgian Beer appetite is whetted, you can watch their video here: