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Friday, April 08, 2011

And So It Begins

Just when I make my triumphant return as The Number One Beer Blogger in America (TM), things start to slow down. I'm doing some "research" today on the book that, whatever its actual merit with respect to the book, will prevent blogging. As a talking point, I commend you to Brady Walen's brand dissection of the new Widmer look. By way of sweetening the pot, I'll throw in this sentence as a nice Friday-morning provocation. "I'd like to find someone who doesn't think that the new packaging isn't a huge step in the right direction."

Okay, Someone, go.

7 comments:

Greg said...

Congrats on your reclamation of the crown. Since you asked...

The new packaging is okay. It's an update, it's an improvement, it's a little fresher.

But I don't know that it is a step in the right direction if Widmer wants to retain and/or attract real craft beer people (whatever that means). It looks sleek and commercial, which is fitting in some ways, but it's more a move to compete with Blue Moon than, say, Rogue.

I guess Widmer can do that, but it looks like ABI picked Goose Island to be its darling, so I worry that they'll be stuck in the no-brewery's-land between regional craft beer and national high-end brand.

I wrote it up a bit ago: http://www.pourcurator.com/2011/02/widmer-redesign-craft-or-commercial.html

Stan Hieronymus said...

Welcome to my world. A little research and lot of restraint when it comes to blogging is good for the soul. It gets easier as you go along.

eric said...

The author himself is apparently a person who doesn't think it isn't a huge step in the right direction. Those double negatives...

Anonymous said...

Widmer Labels? SOSDD

Sam said...

Here's where I agree with Brady: In light of the promiscuous taste buds of many craft beers drinkers, it's a good idea to do a rotating IPA, it gives the ADD sufferers a reason to keeping coming back to Widmer and figure out what's changed. Of course that changes the game so instead of being known for a definitive take on a style (a la Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, or Orval), it's more about being a great explorer of the "range" of a style (a la Mikkeller or Dogfish Head), and so it also makes good sense to highlight the brewery name over the style as they've done. Which path is better "Master" vs "Creative", I don't think it matters as there is plenty of room for both right now.

Where I don't agree is on the actual execution. The packaging itself reminded me of something Blue Moon or Leinenkugel's might do. It's too "slick" so while the packaging may appeal to more "mainstream" drinkers, these drinkers, who are more conservative in their tastes and expect consistency, may be confused and put off by the constantly changing profile of a style. The adventurous craft beer drinkers may be put-off by the apparent lack of "character" of the package and just pass on what might be a good experience. Not saying it's right to judge a book by it's cover, just that many do, even many craft beer drinkers when the cover starts to look too "corporate".

Of course the true test of their strategy will be time.

Brady Walen | The Daily Pull said...

Jeff, thanks for prompting some "Friday-morning provocation" with my post.

Eric, thanks for pointing out the double negative. My comment should read, "I'd like to find someone who doesn't think that the new packaging is a huge step in the right direction."

I'm obviously a fan of the new packaging. Contrary to some of the feedback here and on my blog, I don't feel like the packaging and look is too "corporate." It's a great package for a brewery of Widmer Brothers' size, distribution range, focus, personality, product line, and brand position.

For the naysayers, do you think the old packaging is more effective in communicating the Widmer Brothers brand?

Even then, the educational component and Rotator IPA series indicates some shifts in the brand we're familiar with. Those shifts require attention to presentation. And I think Widmer nailed it.

Sam said...

I have never been fond of the Widmer packaging, but the new one looks like a cross between the faux-art of Blue Moon ads and I originally thought Lienie's but really it's Henry Weinhard. Look for yourself

Blue Moon: http://cdn-ugc.cafemom.com/gen/constrain/500/500/85/2010/08/16/14/34/s8/poy5xok3uovzco.jpg?imageId=19480493 or
http://www.bluemoonbrewingcompany.com/

Henry's: http://www.brewbound.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/HW-IPA.jpg

To me the packaging doesn't speak unique, it speaks "Me Too" corporate because it clearly looks like a combination of "Me Too" corporate brand images already in the market (particularly in the North West) and based on the other comments there will be other beer drinkers who see Widmer on the shelf and will think so too. This may not be have been their intention, they may not have even bothered looking at other packages in the market, but they should have. If you're going to make a switch, it better be the right one. It lacks the distinct point of view inherent in the packaging of a Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Brooklyn, or even a Harpoon.

What would I have done (I am not a packaging designer, but a lab rat), I would have played upon the dark, industrial, WWII-esk style that was in their original look as it was distinct to the other bigger crafts and corporate crafts that they will be competing with for shelf space.

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