The beer industry declined by 1.9% (2.8 billion cases) this year for the fourth year in a row.

The biggest drop was in the Light segment. Sure, some of this may be due to the economy, however craft beer sales are up. Subjective product differences aside, the advertising dollars spent are vastly different: Anheuser-Busch spent $1.4 billion on advertising last year, almost 20% of the total craft beer revenue in 2010. The point is this: the big beer companies could learn a few things from what craft breweries are doing:

Create a story:

A rich history brings humanity to a brand and grounds it in history. For instance, the Brooklyn Brewery traded cases of beer, equity, and free beer for life in exchange for creating their logo. This story helps craft a brand narrative beyond the bottle.

Be real:

Breckenridge Brewery went against the grain when they produced a commercial that took a stand against Coors Light, showing that they were selling beer, without the bells and whistles (Cold Activated Blue Mountains and Tabbed Mouth openings for quicker beer dispensing:

This video gave the brand a personality, and was such a hit that it spread to over 100k hits on the web.

Have a unique POV:

Remember that beer brand that had the young hip man doing that funny thing in the bar? Yeah, neither do we. The point is, you can’t be a beer (or brand) to please everyone. It’s a tough battle. Pick who you are and truly own your audience. It’s simple, but many brands don’t embrace a world heading towards mass customization. Having a beer that matches your taste profile and personality aside from mass-produced fizz gives people a reason to keep coming back for more.