Let’s talk about the BrewDog rebrand. When I first saw it, I thought it was fake news. The BrewDog brand has been so strongly ingrained – in my beer bubble, at least – that this just didn’t look right.
It’s hard to argue that it isn’t dialled back, more measured. The colours are less brash, the design more simplistic and generally speaking, it’s less in-your-face. Dare I say, it all feels a bit too sensible – a bit too safe for the beer brand synonymous with market disruption, stunts and their unique sense of beer anarchy. Their flagship beer is Punk IPA – and the new brand definitely ain’t punk.
So without context, seeing BrewDog in this relatively plain and safe packaging feels like the rebellious teenager has been told to dress up for a special occasion, whether they like it or not.
BrewDog has come a long way.
2000 crew members.
Over 130,000 Equity Punk investors.
Today, we are officially launching a new visual identity along with a renewed purpose for the next chapter of our story.
Welcome to the new BrewDog. pic.twitter.com/EqVPS3fs3F
— BrewDog (@BrewDog) February 6, 2020
It reminds me of the rare instances where I have to wear a suit and tie to a work event. I don’t look particularly out of place – in fact, I look largely identical to everyone else in the room – but it feels so inauthentic. I guess that’s a fitting analogy for my first impressions on this rebrand.
But context is everything – and with the rebrand came the announcement of the BrewDog Tomorrow initiative. A plan to recycle, to reduce waste and to generally take better care of the planet and its people.
The plan and the six steps outlined by BrewDog are admirable and should be applauded. While you may not like the new artwork, it would take the most curmudgeonly naysayer to criticise any of the proposed changes.
— A Plastic Planet (@aplastic_planet) February 7, 2020
It’s an age old trope, the rebellious teen with the spiky mohawk grows up and turns from anarchist to activist, their rage against the machine becomes fuel to effect change. BrewDog appears to be growing up.
It’s a shift that’s been coming, too. In recent times, BrewDog have made a few missteps – remember Pink IPA or the time they built a fake porn website? These are just two examples of the good-will erosion they brought upon themselves which eventually led to parting ways with PR agency, Manifest.
This is a necessary change of vision for BrewDog – it’s difficult to continue to play the ‘punk’ card when you’ve officially broken into the world’s 25 most valuable beer brands – but it’s a logical progression, championing causes that are still inherently true to their liberal ethos.
That to me still feels authentic. They’ve built themselves a platform by breaking down barriers and in turn, they’ve built a soapbox.
Climate change is a hot topic right now – Greta Thunberg has 4 million followers on Twitter. Johnny Rotten has 41k. In 2020, more people care about the planet globally than about anarchy in the UK.
Which leads us back to the rebrand. It makes much more sense in context. It has to be more mature, it has to be minimalist, clean and fresh. It has to be more measured if it is to entice a wider, more mature, eco-friendly audience.
In many ways, the new look is very smart – from little things like having the brand name written horizontally, which will be easier to spot on supermarket shelves – to the fact that its flat, minimalist design is in keeping with trends and will be flexible across platforms, sizes and colours.
All things considered, it makes sense. It’s a much more appealing proposition to the wider public, allowing BrewDog to drop the shock tactics and the psuedo-punk marketing which has long been a ‘shtick’ to beat them with since they became a global brand.
I do feel a bit sad for Punk IPA though – the iconic beer that started it all. You’ve got to wonder if it wasn’t their headline act, would they have dropped the name in favour of something a little less defiant? It’s the one can that still doesn’t quite look right in the context of this new mature vision.
Punk IPA is the beer that began a revolution.
Our scene-stealing old faithful is packed with new world hops to deliver a spiky, tropical hit.
— BrewDog (@BrewDog) February 1, 2019
Wouldn’t it have been sweet if they’d left Punk IPA as it was, as a nod to the past? Maybe I’m just being sentimental but I think that would’ve been a nice touch.
Regardless of the packaging, Punk’s not dead but BrewDog are now a rebel with a cause.