Friday, 4 November 2016

This is how you do it!

The news that major brewers 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.

The fact that 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!"

The group’s marketing manager Lee Williams said, “In this day and age, in terms of what is happening in the market, our branding has not been good enough. We need to recapture the consumer.” He then went on to say, “The market is fast-moving and we’ve updated the brands for current drinkers and new and younger ones.”

Well that’s enough said about Marston’s, as the market will decide whether this was a bold and innovative move on behalf of the company, or a rather foolish and clumsy attempt at trying to look trendy, but if you’ve got a bit of heritage behind you, then why not flaunt it? Sussex brewers, 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.


Matt said...

One of my local breweries, Hydes, has also rebranded in much the same way.

Curmudgeon said...

And Hydes renamed their Owd Oak mild as "Old Indie", which came across as ridiculous. Someone I can't imagine Shaun Ryder necking gallons of it - in fact back then it didn't even exist in its current form.

Martin Taylor said...

Totally agree Paul. The Harveys brands (presumably that's what you'll see on their pumpclips) allows you to see the words "Harveys" and "Bitter" clearly, Masrtons is just a mess. I'm not fussed if they change their branding, but do it well. There's already at least 3 different clips for Pedigree - the White on Red one, the classic red one, and a Black one that pops up around Derby. Very confusing.

Paul Bailey said...

I prefer the Hydes new-look to that of Marston’s; Matt, although looking at their website there seems a strange mix of new clips for the core range and traditional clips for some of the seasonal beers. I agree with Mudge though, that trying to pass a mild off as a Black IPA is rather daft.

Marston’s new look is a mess, Martin. The re-vamp they carried out last year looked perfectly fine to me. This one looks like change for change sake.