February 15, 2011

A Whole Slew of New Brewery Branding

Before you start: Yes, some of these aren't that new anymore, maybe. That's part of me trying to save up images for thematic posts. But all of these are either relatively new or so new they don't exist yet.

Inspired in part by PJ's recent post on his thoughts as he considers his new brewery branding, I thought it would be a neat idea to take a look at some logos and identities of fledgling breweries.

A new all-organic brewery in Lancaster, OH, Rockmill Brewery, whose labels are all variants on this:
Captures the simple, rough-hewn ethos of an organic, Belgian-style craft brewery. The charcoal-like sketch of the horse and the ground on which it's standing is very earthy, hazy and almost primitive. At the same time, it looks neither unfinished nor unsophisticated, just intentionally anti-sleek. I've not had their beer, but given that we know it is rural, organic, features bottle-conditioned beer, and the brewery site talks greatly about nature and Belgian farmhouse styles.

The Doodle Brewing Co., in Liberty, MO, has been in planning stages for a couple years, but appeared ready to bottle as of October:
This is one of those times where it is very tough to walk the line between rough and amateurish. The brewery is named "Doodle" after the founder's penchant for scribbling shapes, so it makes sense that it not have a polished look. But it can't look like a real doodle, either, or else drinkers might not take the beer seriously. This gets a little to close to cheap-looking for my taste, though subsequent labels could position it a little more on the professionally simplistic side. Part of the problem is that constant delays, combined with a brewery website that is outdated, threatens to really damage the brand before any beer gets out there.

Heretic Brewing, due to launch in Spring, is a gypsy brewer, in Pittsburg, CA:
I am not 100% in love with the logo, for a couple reasons. For one, I don't associate demons with heretics, so I'm not sure the demon is all that appropriate. I'm also not totally wild about the oddly-shaped brown-on-black look as a replicable image. The demon's just a little too goofy, as well. But the real reason I'm not thrilled about all that is because the placeholder website linked above looks great:
Dark, classy, sophisticated, with an evocative but replicable text logo. Also, the definition indicates that they are aware of the non-demonic nature of the word after which they have named the brewery, so now there's really no excuse for the silly brown imp. Here's hoping the site is more of an indication of their artistic direction than the logo.

Jackalope Brewing, in Nashville, TN is a venture by two self-described "New England Girls," making it one of the too-few all-female-led brewery efforts in the country, and it will be the first such commercial brewery in Tennessee. Here's their logo in silhouette form:
Straightforward. Here it is in its natural habitat:
And here it is in its adapted habitat of a blog logo:
It's promising. They have the cornerstone in a versatile, replicable one-color shape logo, and they've shown they can use it with bright colors or on a plain pint glass to excellent effect. The blogalope image shows a keen eye for color and composition (the seafoam sun with radiating rays is well positioned), and the fondness for pastels doesn't even hurt the image. Good stuff.

On a related note, this piece of advice from Mental_Floss, should you ever encounter a real jackalope:
The best way to capture a jackalope is to lure it closer with whiskey. Most people who have survived an encounter with a jackalope had plenty of whiskey with them. The jackalope presents a particular threat to tourists, and is most commonly seen displayed taxidermy-style.
Now, you're prepared.

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, half of a gypsy-brewing pair with Funkwerks in Fort Collins, CO, also unveiled a logo late last year
The artist is a man named Travis Olsen, who (unless I have mis-Googled) appears to have little to no online presence (odd, for a graphic designer). It's not bad; I like the barrel shape, the C and S, the A/V inversion, the rough appearance and the bright red on black. The one failing is the white text, which gets hard to read on the yellow part it crosses over. A small shadow or black outline on the text would make that stand out more.

Lastly, Pipeworks Brewing, a brewery funded through Kickstarter. Full disclosure: I am a funder of this brewery... I donated the $5 on Kickstarter that pushed them from $39,995 to $40,0000.
Pipe is just a funny word/object, and it goes well in this humor-infused brewery. The use of a pipe wrench is just an amusing juxtaposition with a brewer's paddle and a Belgian tulip glass. One quick look at the site reveals that humor is a big thing for Beejay and Gerit. Generally, that's a good thing to have such an established part of a brewery identity. And in this case, that crossed and circled logo is a solid piece.

They do have one label posted, their Abduction:
Bottle art, we learn is done in this case by Beejay Oslon, who is a brewer and designer with "10 years of graphic design experience" according to the site. This label is amusing and brightly colored and a really good amateur effort, but not exactly professional grade design. The perspective is off, and the Photoshop effects look... homebrewed. Now, for a brewery fueled by humor and Kickstarter funding, this makes perfect sense and fits well within the branding goals. But as the brewery grows, we'd hope and expect to see that humor outsourced to professional artists and designers who can give the brewery a look to match the beer quality to which it aspires.

I always get nervous when I see designers open breweries. On one hand, there's the immediate excitement at better aesthetics potentially in the field. On the other, they have a tendency to think they can design and run a brewery at the same time, which most can't. Look, it's not about talent; it's about time. Running a brewery takes lots of time, and I tend to find that it's worth it, if you're going to have any branding and marketing ambition, to let someone other than the founders handle the execution of the visual identity.

Still, lots of good stuff going on; hopefully we'll be seeing more from some of these breweries soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment