Brand Expansion: Lessons Learned from Employee Happiness

brand expansion

A Buzz Brewery

Here in Boston, we have a lot of great beer options. Most obviously, the big name ones like Sam Adams and Harpoon; however, there are a number of smaller outfits as well.

One brewery in particular that has garnered a lot of buzz over the years is Trillium Brewing in the Seaport neighborhood. Founded by JC & Esther Tetreault in 2013, Trillium’s focus has been on cranking out hazy and juicy New England IPAs, sours, stouts, and more to be enjoyed and shared by many.

A strong brand rests upon happy employees, and Trillium learned this lesson the hard way.

Growing Pains

Known for genuinely incredible beer, Trillium has enjoyed quite a lot of good press over the years. I for one have long been a fan and will make the trek to either their Boston or suburban locations whenever they do a release.

However, some of the news coming out of Trillium recently has been, shall we say, less than desirable. The company recently announced an operations and brand expansion to a massive new three-story restaurant and brewery. Great news for people like me, but one thing became clear: they were so focused on protecting and growing their brand, that they forgot to protect their employees.


Brand Expansion Woes

According to an article in The Boston Globe, “Trillium was pilloried online last month after word got out that two employees saw their base hourly pay cut from $8 an hour to $5, the level for newer retail workers…Perhaps even more egregious to many consumers: Trillium’s retail workers were paid like bartenders, as tipped employees.”

While what Trillium had done doesn’t break any laws, it does violate one key rule: to protect your brand you must protect your employees. Hours after word got out about the changes, social media comments towards the company were harsh. Their brand clearly suffered.


Learning and Moving Forward

As of now, Trillium has restored the deficit in their pay, raising employees’ rates to $15-$18 an hour. Correcting what many considered to be an egregious error.

A strong brand rests upon happy employees, and Trillium learned this lesson the hard way.

— Ryan Kelley, Brand Strategy Account Coordinator

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