Marston's have carried out a re-branding of their bottled beer portfolio, sent some commentators on the brewing industry into meltdown. It’s easy to mock some of the reasons behind Marston’s decision, and yes it does look like a clumsy attempt to mimic the “craft beer” sector, with the use of a single bold colour, on an otherwise black and white background, but you can’t really blame a company for wanting to move with the times.
Or can you? Today’s Marston’s bears little resemblance to the Burton-based, regional brewer of yesteryear, as that company was swallowed up by Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries; another regional brewer, based in the West Midlands. It is only the fact that the name Marston’s had a much more attractive ring to it, and a lot more pedigree behind it, that the new parent company adopted it as the name for the whole group.
Marston’s do have an impressive pedigree, should have been something well worth capitalising on, and indeed Marston’s looked to be going down that road just a year ago, with the stylish makeover of the premium brand – the appropriately-named Pedigree. That has now been thrown out the window and describing this classic Burton pale ale as an “amber ale” is really rather silly; as is the re-naming of their excellent Oyster Stout, as "Pearl Jet!"
Harvey’s of Lewes, have done just that with their own, much more modest and yet far more effective re-branding which took place back in the summer; an exercise which first saw the light of day at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival.
I must admit at being a little taken aback, when I first saw the new look, boldly acting as the backdrop and sides to the Harvey’s trade stand at GBBF, but the new branding quickly grew on me in way I can’t envisage the new Marston’s designs ever doing. Harvey’s new look is stylish and modern looking, but it still draws on the brewery’s impressive heritage. The clever use of a gold stencil-like effect against a striking, single colour back ground catches the eye and draws attention to the product name and description underneath.
Harvey’s worked closely with leading design house, WPA Pinfold in order to create their new look, and what they came up with really certainly seems to work. The idea was to reach out to a fresh generation of drinkers, by producing a new identity with a closely associated group of illustrations. According to WPA, the idea was “To reposition the brewery for future generations: ensuring a legacy for the family business while future proofing the brand.”
Alright, that’s a little too much marketing speak for my liking, but I think most people would agree the results speak for themselves. I’ve no idea of the cost of this re-brand, but I wouldn’t mind betting Harvey’s paid a lot less than what Marston’s have.