Reinvention will be a huge factor in the growth and sustainability of breweries going forward according to CODO Design, authors of the 2022 Beer Branding Trends.
As the market becomes increasingly competitive, breweries are looking at alternative areas of growth, from the multi-venue model to new product development outside the beer space.
Breweries are also looking to refresh and reinvent their brand as a part of these activities to stay relevant and attract new audiences according to Isaac Arthur, co-founder of CODO Design.
While most Australian craft breweries are not quite as established as some of their American counterparts, breweries that have been in the game for a while might be looking for a refresh.
“Most of the time when we work with a brewery on a brand refresh, it’s because they are growing or trending in the right direction and believe that a more cohesive, compelling overall identity will better reflect where they’re headed and support them in that growth,” explained Arthur.
“Competition is certainly driving a lot of rebrands, but we’re also talking with a lot of breweries who are repositioning after the last few rocky years.
“And we’re seeing an uptick in project inquiries that include a rebrand after a brewery has been acquired by another group – whether it is PE, a new private owner(s), or larger collective – though this is a small percentage of our work.”
As breweries celebrate major milestones and develop as businesses, there can come a time when a rebrand or refresh is on the cards.
“In these cases, a brewery’s positioning, values and story are all working well, but their packaging needs a facelift.
“This is more of a tactical move to clean up inconsistencies, bring the portfolio more in line, after some key SKU rationalisation, and stay fresh on shelf.
“Given the expense of a thorough rebrand versus a less expensive packaging refresh, and the immediate return available if handled well, I foresee more breweries undergoing packaging refreshes and subtle identity updates on a more regular basis moving forward – so maybe two or three refreshes in a 10-year period versus one wholesale burn-it-all-down-and-start-over rebrand in 10 years,” he suggested.
Ensuring you have the edge in all areas is key for breweries, especially as the beer category globally has been largely flat for several years now, according to Arthur.
This means that breweries need to be vigilant about changes in the market, which is reflected in their design and brand.
“It means that you’re making innovative moves and bringing all of your capabilities to bear to release new, exciting products, oftentimes this is in the Beyond Beer space, though not always,” Arthur explained.
He said that a great example of a growing move by breweries into brand architecture was the launch of New Belgium’s Voodoo Ranger.
“New Belgium is a quintessential American craft brewery—one of the leaders in the space from the early days.
“That poses a problem when it comes to new drinker – Gen Z, women and so on – recruitment.
“There’s no reason why a 22-year-old needs to drink a New Belgium beer today when there are phenomenal breweries within walking distance from their house. And in some cases, New Belgium could even be viewed as something your dad drinks – e.g. not cool.”
As a result, New Belgium created the subbrand Voodoo Ranger.
“[This] allowed them to reach out to young IPA drinkers and it has been wildly successful.
“I think the Voodoo Ranger brand, on its own, would be a top 10 brewery in the States by annual production on its own.
“New Belgium never would have seen this success had they tried to ramp up an IPA-centric line under their existing brand. But Voodoo Ranger allowed them to leverage all of their capabilities – brewing processes, production, distribution, brand building, field activation, etc. – to great success.”
Subbrands such as Moo Brew’s BREW which it launched as a sessionable alternative to its other beers, Modus Operandi’s Nort no-alcohol beer or Hop Nation’s Ray, can also appeal to different palates or mark experimentation by breweries into “near beer” categories.
Another trend that Arthur predicted alongside the team at CODO Design is the move towards different formats, perhaps as a result of breweries moving into new categories.
Isaac Arthur suggested that slim cans will be an ongoing trend in the market.
“I think slim cans can work in beer, though it would have to be in service of a larger differentiation play. Slim cans carry certain messaging—lower carb, healthier, sleeker, and traditionally used in non-beer beverages, namely seltzer and RTD cocktails.
“So if you were releasing a beer that overlaps with any of these types of benefits, say a low cal beer, or something targeted at health conscious people (or possibly a brand targeted to women, though those gender lines have been blurring for a while in CPG packaging), this could work well.”
However it is important to be cognisant of format and the liquid which is going in, Arthur explained.
“Of course, you can buck this entire canon in a delightful way as well, but any brewery considering this needs to realise that it is working uphill against all of the slim can’s existing connotations.
“So while it may be novel, putting a 7.5% IPA in a slim can may not sell any more than if you put it in a standard can.”
This move to different formats and categories is a result of a diversifying industry, which is growing in other ways too – which will has and will hopefully impact design in the brewing industry.
“I think if more breweries (and people at all levels of the industry—designers, distributors, bar managers, chain retail folks, etc.) lead with their values and actively discuss their role and responsibility in the community, we will see less of the boorish stuff that defined early craft beer marketing,” Arthur explained.
“The industry is also evolving and will become more diverse over time. So a 25-year-old dude, brewing and drinking beer with other 25 year old dudes will have a unique sense of humour.
“So off-colour names can slip through simply because they made the team laugh, without any further thought than that—so again, ignorance more so than malice.
“As more women enter the brewing space, and younger people, and even older folks, they will bring new perspectives and sensibilities and I do think we’ll see less of the early 2010 junk that plagued craft beer early on.”
Find out more about CODO and designs in the beer industry globally on the BreweryPro Podcast with Isaac Arthur of CODO Design.