When you talk about craft beer in the UK you can’t do it without mentioning BrewDog. Formed in ’07 in Scotland, BrewDog have made it their mission to cultivate a craft beer scene in the UK that is more akin to the edgy, adventurous US scene and less about warm, bland, flat “real ale”. And they’ve done it well. Seven short years later their beer is available in most supermarkets, online beer stores and, most prominently, BrewDog’s own bars which seem to be popping up all over the world like a freakin’ zombie hopocalypse (see what I did there?) Throughout those seven years the brewery’s branding has remained much the same across the bottles, bars, online and print material but this year that is all changing. This month James Watt (founder and MD) revealed the new branding on the company blog and it was met with, shall we say, mixed feelings.
I’ll say right off the bat that I love the new branding. While the old branding gave a sense of the rebellious essence-of-punk foundations the brewery was built on, the new look is more considered, more mature yet still harks back to the edgy, independent ideals that got the ball rolling back in ’07. It’s important to consider their reasoning for making such a drastic and no doubt costly change to their corporate identity. It boils down to one thing; they aren’t the company they were when they first started selling their beer at farmer’s markets and craft fairs. They are now a global super power in the world of craft brewing. Yes, what they produce is still new, edgy and sometimes experimental, but they’re no longer flying by the seat of their pants. It’s this confidence that makes them a brewery that doesn’t quite suit the classic punk rock branding of seven years ago. It’s also important to note that it’s not a great idea to judge the success of the re-brand purely on those re-designed labels out of context. Everything is changing. The website, the printed material, the glassware (I assume) and even new awesomeness like DogTap and the Beer Truck are all getting new steez. When you see it all together it makes perfect sense. In response to the mixed feedback on the bottle labels, James responeded and showed off just how all of this other stuff makes up the brand and, judging by the comments, put a few haters in their place. Sadly, from what I’ve seen in Facebook comments, Instagram comments and feedback on blog posts, the majority of people aren’t liking what BrewDog have done. That’s a real shame because I’d bet that the majority of those negative opinions are based on a misunderstanding of what BrewDog is today and a general ignorance of what James, Martin and team are trying to accomplish with the re-brand; making BrewDog awesome for years to come.