A particular triumph for us centred on our David versus Goliath clash with the corporate giant Hugo Boss.
The story has its origins in Hugo Boss instigating a legal challenge against our small Swansea-based brewery in October 2018, opposing an application we made to trademark our name ‘Boss’.
What should have been a £300 trademark application dramatically spiralled downwards into a year-long legal dispute, over £10,000 of legal fees and an astonishing amount of anxiety and sleepless nights.
We eventually settled out of court – and got to keep our name – but were forced to change the names of two of our best-selling beers and to agree not to release merchandise or open taprooms with the name ‘Boss’.
Not being one to take things lying down, as soon as the legal dispute was closed, I contacted local publication Wales Online to see if they would be interested in covering this story of bullish behaviour.
Within hours, the story of this conglomerate bullying and trying to stamp out a smaller, family-run business had been picked up by the national tabloids. The BBC and ITV were turning up at the brewery to interview me on camera for the news.
But it was when Channel 4 got wind of it that the story really took on a life of its own.
I had a phone call out of the blue from a producer of Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back who explained the concept of this comedy show – finding justice for the smaller guy against large corporations with significantly more clout.
They asked if we’d be interested in coming on the show and telling our story and we jumped at the chance. We had a lot of fun in a pub on the outskirts of London filming for the award-winning show with Joe, the Happy Mondays and a few beers – Shaun and Bez had some stories to tell.
As part of the show, Lycett changed his name by deed poll to ‘Hugo Boss’ in a taste of your own medicine style-move, shortly afterwards issuing the global company a letter asking them not to use his name.
At that point, the story exploded and went viral and made the likes of This Morning, Loose Women, The Graham Norton Show and international publications all over the world.
The impact for us as a brand was massive. Endless messages of support streamed in overnight, we gained thousands of new social media followers, we saw a 50% increase in supermarket sales, a 30% increase in customers at our taproom, landlords who had lapsed in their ordering started buying again, we gained new international distributors, including in France. The list goes on.
But more importantly than this huge boost in revenue and brand awareness, I learned a great deal about our strength and resilience.
It was a real ‘lemon to lemonade’ story; rather than rolling over and quitting and giving in to the big boys, we stood our ground and got to not only keep our brand name but also to put ourselves on the map in the process.
This has been a great source of empowerment and determination for me going into Covid and all of the challenges it has thrown our way – because if we can get through a battle with a real-life Goliath, we can get through most things.