August 12, 2010

Recent Branding Efforts in the Beer World

One of the things I like to look at here is the creation and maintenance - or not - of brands. So let's take a look at some of the branding in the beer industry:

Northern Massachusetts' Element Brewing Company has a series of labels that right now all look essentially like this:
 
On their site, the first words you see are
 "Element Brewing Company believes firmly in the fusion of art, science, and beer. Our hand-crafted, bottle conditioned ales don’t fit neatly into any box; our innovative brewing techniques create a hybrid of styles that test the flavors, dimensions, and boundaries of beer.

So the atom diagram fits well with the philosophy of the brewery, as does the name. Basic things, you might say, but still good moves. The color scheme is a nice earthy red-and-brown look. I like how the image overflows the boundaries of the brown text field, carrying visually the idea that their beer will be outside the box, so to speak. It's not exciting, but it does the job and, importantly, is a versatile logo that can be adapted with life later on.

Ass Kisser is a new brand brewed at the Rahr and Sons Brewery in Fort Worth:
It's Texan, in case you couldn't figure that out. The dome-cut label works with the Western text and ruddy red to evoke everything they want, including a crassness and aggressiveness. My one question here is why they use brown twice. It makes sense once (on the main panel, adding some variety), it would make sense zero times, and it would make sense three or more times (say, for balance on the other side or at the top), but it seems weird to have it in two places, next to each other, on the bottom of the label. The donkey with the lips will probably sell some merchandise, but the best thing about this branding is that it communicates who their market is not. If you're a highfalutin beer snob with aspirations of class and sophistication, you will not be ordering this or buying an Ass Kisser t-shirt.

Interestingly, the roof collapse that preserved the batch of Ass Kisser has led to a rebranding by Rahr and Sons, which shows a very different look.
Unlike the other brand brewed there, the new Rahr & Sons is nostalgia-infused, and does the Texan thing more conservatively, with the little Longhorn logo on the left. I like the Blonde label better because of the way the woman's hand curls around the text. Though the color field on the Stormcloud works well as water.

And then there's the British Columbia brewery Okanagan Spring, which just underwent a rebranding for its 25th anniversary. The firm Subplot Design went for a modern, sleek look:
As I wrote earlier about Notch Session, the risk they run here is being undistinctive. I like the huge images of the beer, clearly putting focus on the purity of the product, and the text and color scheme are solid. But look, for example, at quasi-Anheuser product Redhook:

It's a look that we see, with the dominant white sans serif text on monochrome fields projecting clean and crisp branding. Again (as with Notch) part of the problem with branding is that you can spend time and energy coming up with good stuff, and then you have to hope no competitor (especially a better-funded one) comes up with the same idea and steals your mindspace (ed. note: one must have an MBA to use the word "mindspace")


Lastly, my favorite branding initiative, the new Dos Equis effort by New York designer KAWS:

Has there ever been a more natural fit for a designer and brand (KAWS' trademark is those Xs he uses as eyes for creatures)? You have to admire all of the new marketing by Dos Equis, whose "Most Interesting Man in the World" campaign has become a sensation, and who now hires a famous, awesome designer. The aim of all of that is to change their brand (though, puzzlingly, these bottles will be Mexico-only). They're making Corona seem outdated while they make a play to be the darling Mexican beer of hip young professionals. We'll see if it works, but so far they've been impressive.

No comments:

Post a Comment