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VOL. 068

Why are so many breweries rebranding today?


Over the past year, we’ve rebranded breweries as young as 3 years old and groups that are more than 40 years old. 

And we’ve fielded more inquiries for breweries looking to rebrand than we could actually take on. So, anecdotally, it seems like this topic is top of mind at breweries across the country right now. 

This work has spanned subtle brand refreshes, sweeping rebrands and tactical package refreshes that land somewhere in the middle.

We covered some of the issues driving these moves in our 2024 Beer Branding Trends review. 

Today, I want to dive even deeper and explore a handful of more acute issues, pain points and goals we’re seeing in our project work across the country right now.

If any of this resonates with you, shoot me an email and let’s explore how CODO can help you address them at your brewery.

Let’s get into it.  

(Above): Give Craft Beer, Rebranded a read if you're considering a revamp.


1. Sales are flat

We’re handling a lot of rebrands today to directly combat flat (to declining) sales. 

“We’ve been hovering right at 8,500 bbl for the last few years.” 


“We’re coming back from our 2019 high point of 12,000 bbl but are stuck in a stubborn plateau.”

Another shift we’ve seen is less of an emphasis on branding as a way to make you look cool (so a surface level consideration), and more direct conversations about how this effort should increase sales: So branding as a strategic move—a precursor—to gaining back your lost share. 

I don’t have anything deeper to say here other than I’m glad that people are talking openly about the value of branding and how they expect to see a clear return on their investment. 

(Above): A snapshot of the ROI Prost Brewing saw post rebrand in 2019. They're continuing to grow YOY to this day. 


2. Things are going well and you want to capitalize on that momentum 

I’m including this point as a positive counter to the previous one.

Not all of our rebranding work today is aimed at combating slacking sales. We’re actually helping a lot of folks for whom things are going well. Really, really well. 

Sales are trending up, their team is fired up and they’re on a winning streak.

These groups see a revamp as a way to knock off some rough corners and keep the good times rolling.

These sorts of engagements are generally more of a refresh than an outright rebrand (learn about the difference here). 

And as such, they usually aim to address annoying pain points (think inconsistent packaging, a shallow identity system that doesn’t lend itself to merchandising, etc.), more than deep, existential who-am-I?-type issues. 

What’s working? How can we build on that and continue to stay ahead of everyone else? 

(Above): NoDa Brewing was is a great spot when they reached out to discuss a rebrand in 2022. Most of our process centered around refining what was working and jettisoning what wasn't so they could present a clearer story out in retail.

Read more about this project here and listen to a podcast for more behind the scenes project context here. (Also, you love to see it.)



3. “It’s just time”

"It’s just time. We haven’t updated our packaging in several years and customers just aren’t seeing them on shelf."

We’ve heard this idea from breweries, distributors and retailers across the country on several revamps this year. 

In the past (say, pre-2020), I would hear something like this and take it with a grain of salt. I used to believe that you should aim to have consistent packaging for years so people know what to look for on shelf—so that your packaging becomes iconic in your market.  

But I’ve come around almost entirely to the “it’s just time” argument. 

I now think there’s a lot of merit to refreshing your packaging every 3 or 4 (ish) years just to keep things, well, fresh.

We’re gathering sales data on a few engagements to support this idea (stay tuned for case studies that illustrate this), but for now, I can say that it’s looking like a killer rebrand done once—perfectly executed across the board—followed by package refreshes in 3 to 4 (ish) year intervals seems to be a great way to get a lot of return on your investment. 

So yeah, sometimes it can just be time to knock some dust off and revamp your branding. 


4. Rebranding ahead of an important Brand Architecture move

We've run into this several times over the last few years.

Your brewery will want to make some sort of Brand Architecture move, and while planning, realize that you need to readdress your core positioning and brand identity itself first (or alongside that work).

A few examples we've seen include:

– You want to spin a best selling brand into a Sub Brand (Scaling the Sub Brand Ladder).

 – You bought another brewery (or distillery, restaurant, brand, etc.) and now have to figure out how these brands live together.

– You need to bring all of your taproom and/or restaurant locations under a more cohesive brand experience, but found your branding, as is, isn't suited for this. 

Rebranding, and working through your Brand Strategy, is a great time to take stock of everything you've got going on and prioritize. 

What's working well? What could work better if we make XYZ changes? And what should we lose entirely from a Brand Architecture standpoint?

(Above): Fernson Brewing shifted away from a monolithic Branded House and leaned into building unique Sub Brands for each of their core beers. This allows them to tailor marketing and sales programming to each specific SKU and do some fun world building around each brand.


5. Cleaning up a poorly performing previous rebrand 

This one’s interesting and we’re seeing it more often today. 

It looks something like this: Your brewery rebranded a while back (say, back in 2017), but the work wasn’t really that good. Or more importantly, it didn’t have the impact you were hoping for. (And that doesn’t even count what the wrecking ball that is 2020–2024 did to your brand and the industry as a whole).

We’ve handled a few of these engagements now and I can confidently say that a poorly managed rebrand may actually be worse than doing nothing at all because: 

– Again, the work can just be bad  🙁

– There’s (usually) no deeper strategy, messaging and positioning work upon which to scaffold everything else

– You likely didn’t clearly define, let alone address your pain points the first time around (so now you’re just stacking on more problems). We see a lot of surface level refreshes that were billed as rebrands, so they didn't actually discuss important underlying issues like positioning, brand voice and portfolio architecture.

A word of caution here: Make sure you get it right this time. 

Rebranding multiple times over the course of a several years is a bad sign. And at the risk of sounding too melodramatic, it’s now do or die. 

We’ve heard from distributors and retailers (on two specific projects now), that it seems like your brewery A) doesn’t know what it’s doing and because of that, is… B) throwing a bunch of shit against the wall to see what sticks.

Not great either way. 

And for your customers, who have (essentially) unlimited options for what beer to buy, why would they stick around for your 3rd revamp? 

Oh, they rebranded again? I guess things aren’t going so hot?

A rebrand is a signal. If handed well, it can be a powerful one.

(Above): Multiple rebrands over a short period aren't a good look. Lagunitas' rebrand (top left) was out in the market for less than two years before they rolled out *another* revamp (top right).

Why are so many breweries rebranding today? 

Because the boom is over. The days of easy, organic growth are long gone and in order to thrive over the next ten years, you need to get your branding—your story and key messaging, your brand voice and identity and packaging—completely dialed in.

This is no longer a nice-to-have. And it’s not even table stakes. Now, it’s mission critical. 

Your competition is already thinking along these lines and I want you to do the same. 

Shoot me an email if you’d like to discuss your brewery’s branding and how you could improve it.

Around the Shop

[Podcast] How we rebranded NoDa Brewing (featuring Jacob Virgil)

Everything is booming at NoDa: Sales are continuing to increase YoY (currently more than 21,000 bbl per year), they're actively gaining new accounts and their team is energized. 

So why rebrand? 

Here's a fun conversation that dives into why NoDa felt now was a good time to freshen things up and how CODO helped them navigate this process.

Sneak Peeks (works in progress)

Ready to learn more?

The Beyond Beer Handbook

Part book, part quiz, and part choose-your-own-adventure-style novel, The Beyond Beer Handbook is a purpose-built tool for helping you expand your brewery’s portfolio and build a more resilient business.

Craft Beer, Rebranded

Craft Beer, Rebranded and its companion Workbook are a step-by-step guide to map out a winning strategy ahead of your rebrand. Building on CODO’s decade of brewery branding experience, this book will help you weigh your brand equity, develop your brand strategy and breathe new life into your brewery’s brand.

Craft Beer Branding Guide

The Craft Beer Branding Guide outlines how to brand, position and launch a new brewery or beverage company. This is a must-read for any brewery in planning.

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