This content was originally published by The Hop Review, a digital magazine that joined the Hop Culture family in March 2020.
This piece was written by Jack Muldowney.
Earlier this year, Great Lakes Brewing Co. refreshed its image. The nearly 30-year-old brewery in Ohio was long overdue for a progressive look at its brand. And, like many, we are very thankful to see these new bottles gracing store shelves across the Midwest and beyond. It’s not until you dive a little deeper into the new look, that you can truly appreciate the rebrand, illustrations and overall approach to the ‘new’ GLBC.
This “brand refresh” was the first major update to the Great Lakes Brewing Co. brand since we opened in 1988. Over the years they’ve made slight adjustments, but the 2015 refresh was one of our company’s biggest endeavors to date. We reached out to Great Lakes and their communications director, Marissa DeSantis, to get a little more insight into the rebrand.
“One of the motivators for the refresh was simply how much the craft beer landscape has changed since we first incorporated. We knew we had an immense amount of equity in our branding, but with more competitors on the shelf, we wanted our new look to step up in that space and better complement the high quality of the beer inside the package.
Through Cleveland agency Brokaw Inc. (who were instrumental in developing our new logo and packaging layout) we found illustrator Darren Booth. We brought him to our brewery to meet the owners and learn the stories behind each of our brands. Darren’s style appealed to us because first, his paintings are beautiful and give our packages a bright, sophisticated look. But he’s also able to collage different storytelling elements into each label. Our Conway’s Irish Ale is named after our owners’ grandfather, a Cleveland policeman. To honor him, Darren collaged in a scan of Pat Conway’s Ireland-to-USA immigration papers. In our Burning River Pale Ale label you’ll find clippings from the 1972 Clean Water Act. In our Christmas Ale label, he added cinnamon and honeycomb textures to represent the raw materials used in the beer. We continue to work very closely with Darren as he produces new artwork for us, providing creative direction and sharing those collage elements from our archives. All of these elements add depth and texture to each of our packages, and provide more talking points for us as a brewery, and fun Easter eggs for our customers.
This refresh means so much to us. First, the fact that our customers have supported us for nearly 30 years has allowed us to make this investment. For that reason, we kept those loyal fans and our rich history in mind as we set forth on this project. Our packaging still looks like “us”, but it’s brighter and cleaner, and it better matches the quality and innovation that goes into every beer we brew.”
Images provided by Great Lakes Brewing Company.