A word with Heaps Normal’s Head of Brand – Peter Brennan
By now you must be well versed with our community of champions and our commitment towards them. So in the lead up to this year’s edition of Pause Awards, we thought of catching up with some of our 2021 winners who make up this community.
And who better to kick things off with than the team over at Heaps Normal!
Having bagged three trophies at Pause Awards ceremony last year, the non-alcoholic beer venture has taken Australia by storm. Their campaigns hit the spot, their personality is real, and their purpose is simple. Which is why it’s no surprise that they’ve made it to Australian’s Top 100 Innovators list too!
Driven by his mission to bring about positive change in drinking culture, Heaps Normal’s Co-founder and Head of Brand, Peter Brennan, sat down with us to chat about the company’s journey, the driving forces behind their growth, and what winning the Pause Awards (and winning multiple, that too) has done for the team.
Check out excerpts from our conversation below:
Do you remember the moment that led to the inception of your business?
There were 2 reasons for wanting to start Heaps Normal. Firstly, I run a branding and design studio called Electric And Analog. After 3 years of running the studio, I had a bit of imposter syndrome and wondered if we could create a brand of our own, without a client telling us what to do. Secondly, my dad was an abusive alcoholic. I lost him to suicide when I was 11 years old, and had always wanted to do something in the non-alcoholic space. These two collided and Heaps Normal was born.
And was there a specific moment in time when you realised that what you were building was potentially game-changing?
I approached 3 breweries with the idea of a non-alcoholic beer. Each one of them politely laughed me out of the room. But I just knew this was going to become something. The first batch of beer that we brewed went into blank silver cans. My wife and our daughter and I put Heaps Normal stickers on them by hand, and we drove around Sydney dropping them off at restaurants, bars and pubs. We had some well-known publicans and sommeliers taste the samples. At first, they called it out as a 4 – 5 % beer. When we told them it was non-alcoholic their jaws hit the floor. For me, that was the moment when we knew we were on to something.
What would you say was the one big factor that helped you grow your business?
Getting accepted into Startmate, the accelerator programme run by Blackbird Ventures was it. We learnt from some of the most incredible mentors in Australia, some of whom are now investors in Heaps Normal.
What would you say is your North Star for your company?
Our mission is to change drinking culture. That’s our North Star.
On a more personal level, what does success look like to you?
Being happy. If you can wake up happy every morning, and genuinely love what you do everyday, you’ve won.
What gets you excited to work on your business, day in and day out?
The fact that we’re making a product that is genuinely changing peoples’ lives. We get messages almost daily from people who have tried our non-alcoholic beers and it has changed their outlook on drinking. We’ve had people message us saying things like their husband/wife was a really angry person after a few drinks, but now drinks Heaps Normal and is happier, and a better husband/wife/father/mother/brother/sister. These are the kinds of stories that get me out of bed in the morning.
How has the local/global ecosystem contributed to your growth and scaling? Anyone in particular?
I think the global wellness movement has definitely helped us. People are a lot more conscious about what they consume these days. Also, statistically, people are cutting down on their alcohol intake and being more aware about what they put into their bodies.
If you could go back in time and fix one mistake or misstep that you took, what would it be?
Getting started earlier.
And finally, how do you think winning Pause Awards impacted you and your business?
Winning Pause Awards has given us much recognition in a really competitive space. We’re so thrilled with the awards we received and are so grateful for the opportunity to put Heaps Normal on a pedestal.
To learn more about Heaps Normal, check them out here.