All About Untappd Badges (2023)
Untappd is the world’s largest community of beer enthusiasts with over 1o million registered users. At its core, Untappd is an app that invites people to socially share the beers they’re currently enjoying by “checking them in.” Curious about what your friends are drinking or where they’re hanging out? Just check out their Untappd profile.
In April 2021, Untappd hit over 1 billion check-ins worldwide, making it the premier social platform to engage with a community of dedicated craft beer drinkers.
And in 2022, the community registered its one billionth badge earned. What is a badge you ask? Well, for a brewery, beer business, taproom, or bar, one of the best ways to tap into this hyper-engaged community is through Untappd badges.
What We’ll Cover in This Piece:
- What Is an Untappd Badge?
- Why Is an Untappd Badge Valuable to a Business?
- What Are the Common Criteria for “Checking-In” a Badge?
- What Are the Different Types of Badges?
- What Are the Different Levels and Targeting Options?
- Some of Our Favorite Untappd Badges - and Why They’re Successful!
- How To Get a Custom Untappd Badge for Your Brand
What Is an Untappd Badge?
Within the Untappd app, users unlock badges for reaching certain milestones. For example, one could “check-in” a Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA badge by Sierra Nevada from now until April to earn the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA badge, a Funky Buddha Breakfast of Champions during the month of March to earn the Breakfast of Champions: Maple Bacon Coffee Porter badge, or one of three beers from Left Hand Brewing Co. until Mar. 20th to earn Left Hand's Dry Irish Stout Nitro, Milk Stout Nitro, or Stouts & Shenanigans badge. Beer drinkers are constantly seeking these new badges.
“Badges are like the virtual rewards of the Untappd app,” says Aubrey Price, Enterprise Marketing Account Manager at Untappd.
Users check in specific beers or at specific breweries to receive a badge. The more beer and taprooms an Untappd user explores, the more badges they’ll uncover and earn, with friends often competing against each other to see who can earn more.
“Untappd badges are like Pokémon Go for beer fans; they’re cool digital beer collectibles,” says Harrison Hickok, Business Development Manager at Oznr and host of Untappd’s Drinking Socially podcast, which focuses on ways to unlock various Untappd badges. “It’s a treasure hunt inside Untappd that’s already happening.”
While badges can’t technically be bartered, they’re earned, stored, and displayed within a consumer’s profile, showing beers they’ve consumed, challenges they’ve accomplished, and places they’ve visited. Pardon the pun, but they’re almost like “badges of honor” for those participating in the Untappd virtual world.
Since Untappd badges are like a game constantly in progress, leveraging one means your business taps into a specific subset of craft beer culture that constantly engages with one another. And with over 15,000 badges inventoried or currently in play on Untappd, there’s always a new challenge for dedicated craft beer drinkers to achieve.
Why Is an Untappd Badge Valuable to a Business?
Untappd badges are a new, innovative approach to advertising. Instead of a more traditional digital ad, badges allow businesses to unobtrusively display a new beer or initiative within the framework of the Untappd ecosystem.
“A badge engages users more than a pop-up ad or banner, or something else that can stand out in a bad way,” says Hickok. “Badges seamlessly land in front of a user in the app and Untappd users love badges.”
People that engage with the Untappd app are a dedicated community who care about craft beer and want to earn badges. According to Hickok, people often travel far distances just to earn a badge.
“If people are willing to travel states away to get a badge and all you’re asking as a brewery is to go down to the grocery store and get a beer [to check-in], it's a pretty easy sell,” says Hickok. “It’s important businesses know, especially if they have no idea what [a] badge is, that this is a part of the Untappd culture. Badges are pretty unique to Untappd and the community. They’re what people freak out about the most. And you can be a part of that without waving [a] banner in someone's face and saying, buy my beer.”
According to Price, businesses with sponsored badges typically see a 50 to 100 percent increase in check-ins and make Untappd’s Global Trending lists during their promotion periods.
Global and social awareness are two important advantages for businesses.
“Badges are great at building global brand awareness and exposure for new beer releases and flagship beers,” says Price. And since the badge will also be featured on the Untappd blog and across social media, it’s just another tool to build up your social following. Plus, depending on the brewery and the location, badges can actually help bring a lot more foot traffic through the front door as well.
Hickok continues, saying, “A billboard is a billboard, you can’t deny that; but if you show up in this fun game already happening, introduce a new level to that game, or find a new way to play, it’s like you’re making your brand fun and showing you understand the value of the Untappd user experience.”
In essence, badges are a fun, creative advertising avenue that are easy to set up. It’s a win-win for everyone.
What Are the Common Criteria for “Checking-In” a Badge?
To earn a badge through Untappd, users must complete certain tasks. The app has many different activation triggers, with some more complex than others.
“Most are beer, period,” says Hickok. Generally, the popular requirement for earning a badge is simply for an Untappd user to check in one specific beer during an allotted amount of time. For example, right now you can earn Funky Buddha's Breakfast of Champions: Maple Bacon Coffee Porter badge by checking in one Maple Bacon Coffee Porter beer between Feb. 20, 2023, and Mar. 20, 2023.
Here are some of the other common criteria businesses can leverage:
- Check-in X beer(s) in a given time frame (List of Beers)
- Check-in X beer(s) by brewery Y in a given time frame (List of Breweries)
- Check-in X beer(s) with a photo in a given time frame (List of Beers with Photo)
- Check-in X beer(s) with a photo by brewery Y in a given time frame (List of Breweries with Photo)
- Check-in X beer(s) within a geographic radius in a given time frame (Beers in a Geo Radius)
- Check-in a beer at X venue(s) in given time frame (List of Venues)
- Check-in to X beer(s) at X venue(s) in given time frame (List of Beers at Venues)
- Check-in X beer(s) by brewery Y at X venue(s) in given time frame (List of Breweries at a Venues)
But, that’s not all badges can be. Checking in one or two beers is really just the starting point.
“If you have a larger call-to-action or bigger campaign that the brewery is a part of—recycle more, get outside more, visit local businesses more—you can use the badge to help make that happen,” says Hickok.
A great example of the creative criteria for check-ins includes the current EC2021 Champion Badge Passport. To celebrate the European Championship 2021, Bier&zO set up a series of three badges, each with their own criteria, to earn from June 11, 2021, to July 11, 2021. By unlocking these badges, users will receive a 20 percent discount on their next order at Bier&zO. On top of that, 10 lucky winners who unlock all the badges will win exclusive ‘Uiltje’s All Time Oranje Legends’ beer boxes.
You can really get as creative as you like. If you’re looking to learn more about the criteria your business can set up, from the standard to the unique, be sure to connect directly with Aubrey Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Harrison Hickok (email@example.com).
What Are the Different Types of Badges?
Starting to think that a badge might be a great way for you to advertise your next beer launch or campaign? Then it’s important to understand the different types of badges that Untappd offers. Generally, Untappd badges fall into three buckets.
- Sponsored badges are the most germane to this article. These badges are normally sponsored by a brewery or a business with a fixed timeline and specific criteria to unlock, such as the Lagunitas and Odell examples above.
- Local badges are tied to a specific business/bar/taproom and are used almost like a rewards club or loyalty program. For example, let’s say that Bob’s Bar has activated a Bob’s Bar badge. When you check-in and tag that venue as the place where you’re drinking, you can unlock certain rewards just for drinking a certain number of beers at that bar. Maybe you drink five beers and earn a free t-shirt or over time you consume 100 beers and earn a free flight. You can also set badges to be earned based on purchased location - bottle shops, grocery stores, and online stores, listen up! The best feature of local badges is that the app will send reminders to drinkers when they’re, say, two beers away from unlocking the next level, encouraging people to stay and purchase more products.
- Core badges are created by the Untappd team and can be unlocked at any time. Most of these badges can be leveled all the way up to 100 (see below for more details on leveling up). For example, Untappd recently released these six new core badges for users to complete.
As a brewery, business, or bar, the sponsored and local badges will be the two types of badges you can leverage to build your own loyal community of craft beer drinkers.
What Are the Different Levels and Targeting Options?
As an extra added layer to the Untappd badge game, some badges allow users to “level up.”
Put simply, this means that the level of the badge will increase after a certain number of check-ins. Traditionally, once someone drinks and checks in five beers, that will unlock a new level on a badge. The levels increase all the way up to 100, meaning someone could potentially drink 500 beers to achieve the highest level of a badge. This can be applied to a list of beers, a list of beers at a specific venue, or even a list of breweries required to unlock a badge.
“Leveling up incentivizes the user to continue drinking that brand’s liquids to earn more tokens or stamps on their badge history,” says Price. “Ultimately, leveling up encourages users to not just drink one beer, but multiple beers of your brand.”
Being able to level up a badge adds another tool into your marketing arsenal.
Some of Our Favorite Untappd Badges - and Why They’re Successful!
It’s all well and great to describe badges but it’s even better to see the ones live and in action from some of the country's top breweries. According to Price and Hickok, here are a few examples of popular Untappd badges and what made them so successful.
Oskar Blues Enter the Weasel
Oskar Blues Enter the Weasel - To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Dale’s Pale Ale, Oskar Blues released limited edition 16oz cans of the pale ale featuring unique illustrations by the artist McBess. The three cans lined up side-by-side to create a mural that depicted Oskar Blues’ journey from mountain town brewpub to craft beer pioneer. To help recognize this milestone, Oskar Blues created a whole set of badges that, if unlocked, earned the user different amounts of points. Once a consumer earned enough, they could redeem the points for a chance to win custom merch from Oskar Blues.
“This was the first multi-badge campaign we ever did, and it was a huge campaign,” says Hickok. “It was cool because it was like a mini treasure hunt with our badges that could unlock actual rewards outside of Untappd.”
Goose Island Road to the Harvest
Goose Island Road to the Harvest - Developed to help Goose Island promote a variety of beers in its portfolio, the Road to the Harvest badge actually included a series of badges unlocked by a series of beers. By achieving each level of the different badges in this campaign, an Untappd user would earn a certain amount of points. Once they earned enough points, the consumer could redeem them for one of many prizes available from Goose Island. The ultimate prize was the chance to win a trip out to the Yakima Valley to visit Goose Island’s hop farms during the harvest.
“This badge was great because as you unlocked badges along the way you were entered to win a raffle. It was this whole awesome experience,” says Hickok.
Dogfish Head Off-Centered Ale Trail
Dogfish Head Off-Centered Ale Trail - Events that require multiple venues to check-in are another great way to utilize badges. Think beer weeks or ale trails.
“From a business perspective, if you’re some kind of guild or organization like a beer week or ale trail, we can take over your specific market, let's say a 50-mile radius, where any user that checks in within that area would receive your ale trail or beer week badge,” says Price. “A badge like this helps bring the community together.”
For example, a few years ago Dogfish Head joined forces with Atlas Obscura to curate the Dogfish Head Off-Centered All Trails badge. Craft beer fans and adventurous pathfinders could check in Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA, Flesh & Blood IPA, and SeaQuench Ale on one of these obscure, off-centered spots to earn a variety of badges.
New Belgium #VoteVoodoo
New Belgium #VoteVoodoo - This is a creative example of New Belgium utilizing Untappd badges to make a business decision in a very unobtrusive way. The #VoteVoodoo contest asked actual Untappd consumers to vote for which beer they thought New Belgium should brew next in their Voodoo Ranger IPA series. New Belgium turned the winner—Hop Avenger IPA—into a badge. By collecting all three Hop Avenger badges, the user could enter to win some serious Voodoo Ranger swag.
“This was an interactive badge,” says Hickok. “It was a great example of a business asking users to do something without feeling [intrusive]. New Belgium gave people a badge in hopes that they’d help them figure out which beer to make next.”
Funky Buddha One Million Times The Funk Badge
Funky Buddha One Million Times The Funk Badge - This is a great example of a brewery using a badge to celebrate a certain milestone. In 2019, Funky Buddha reached its one millionth Untappd check-in. To encourage even more people to join their own craft beer community and reach new heights of liquid enlightenment, Funky Buddha created a badge.
“The Funky Buddha badge was very successful and a fun one to run,” says Price. “Most badges are for a certain release or flagship beer, so this was a rare [example of something different].”
Lagunitas The Waldos’ Special Ale Badge
Lagunitas The Waldos’ Special Ale Badge - Lagunitas brews this super dank beer for true treasure hunters. Dedicated to the spirit of those always seeking and never giving up, Waldos Special Ale is a highly limited release that Lagunitas launched every April. To help celebrate the yearly launch Lagunitas put together a series of three badges for Untappd treasure hunters to unlock. Price cites this badge as a great example of “leveling up,” noting the three badges associated with the beer allowed the user could level up, “incentivizing people to drink not just one beer by the brewery, but multiple beers,” says Price.