Slicker isn't always better. Sometimes, adopting a simple image to promote a product is just the right answer to keep sales brewing.
Founded in 1990 by Richard Squire, Breckenridge Brewery began with the goal of making great beer in a Colorado town better known for skiing than anything else. Originally producing just 3,000 barrels per year, it now operates seven pubs and restaurants and produces almost 30,000 barrels. Though the brewery was nabbing top honors at microbrewery competitions in the late 1990s, competitors were entering not only its core markets, but also its hometown of Denver-"the Napa Valley of microbreweries," according to marketing director Steve Kurowski.
Teaming up with design firm Barnhart/CMI, the brewery poured out its computer-generated logo and created one as handcrafted as its beer, eliminating complicated elements that were difficult to translate into packaging and merchandising, such as the drop-shadow effect on the mountain. A more colloquial voice was adopted for ads, with taglines such as "Brewed the way it is because we drink most of it." The new visuals debuted on materials for the brewery's SummerBright Ale.
Today, Breckenridge is ready to uncap the new packaging of its flagship brand, Avalanche Amber Ale, and its new Hefeweizen. SummerBright sales overflowed expectations by 25 percent. And for the first time, consumers can buy promotional items such as pint glasses and T-shirts. Sometimes, the best way to show great taste is with simplicity rather than flash.
Elizabeth J. Goodgold is CEO/chief nuancer of The Nuancing Group, a brand consulting firm in San Diego, and author of the monthly newsletter Duh! Marketing.