Our story with Mark and Jesse Sommers, father-son owners of Berthoud Brewing Company began with an ask for some new packaging designs. To date their request has returned record sales, unearthed opportunities, and driven unprecedented brand momentum - not to mention some pretty sweet new cans. Along the way we helped them develop newfound confidence and control in a reimagined brand - one that more accurately and authentically represents their values and style. The journey may have taken an unexpected path, but it’s a good reminder that with an open mind and willingness to collaborate, you can end up at places you never thought possible.
In the often incestuous world of craft brewing it’s ironic that our connection with Berthoud Brewing came from a completely unrelated source, a Google search.
“I can’t remember exactly what I Googled but it had something to do with ‘craft beer’ and ‘marketing’. One of the first results was Turn It Up,” Co-owner Jesse Sommers shared. “I found their info and called ‘em up. We grabbed beers and things took off from there. ”
We left our sit down with Mark and Jesse with some unique observations:
Their honest and forthcoming approach to making lighter, true-to-style beers, versus holding wild aspirations of innovating the industry or setting the craft blogger-sphere aflutter with the newest trend;
Their unwavering commitment to using only real ingredients;
Their humble honesty about lacking connection to the roots of their brand;
Their sincere willingness to listen, engage, and entertain significant change.
We saw an opportunity to create a clear path and deliver a longer-lasting impact and wider-reaching effect than just some cool new cans. But we needed to gain their trust first. So we sat down, explained our intent, defined our approach, and laid out our vision.
“I laughed when they presented their proposal. It was definitely more than we expected,” shared Co-owner Mark Sommers. “But they saw something we were struggling to put into words: We didn’t have a handle on what our brand was, or what that even meant, really. And we didn’t know how to fix it.” Thankfully the Sommers’ appreciated the Turn It Up approach and embraced the plan.
DEEP DIVING INTO BRAND DEVELOPMENT
The process started with a robust brand questionnaire, followed by a lengthy deep dive review session and brand examination. Brewers have described this process as “marriage counseling meets brand intervention, but fun—with drinks”. Whatever you call it, we’ve yet to hold a deep dive that wasn’t feisty and challenging at times, hilarious and inappropriate at others. And as with all of our other experiences, the stakeholders walked away having learned much about each other, and with a greater sense of common ground and direction than before.
We use the takeaways from these sessions and subsequent reviews to build what we refer to as a Brand Architecture. It’s a cohesive document that provides a true reflection of a brand’s identity by defining authentic and ownable assets, including audience segments, brand mission, pillars, positioning, and communication - one that provides confidence and a clear path forward for decision making at every level.
SHAPING WORDS INTO A NEW VISION AND TOOLS
Using the freshly cemented brand architecture as a guide, we began creating the visual fundamentals for the Berthoud Brewing brand. We made it clear our intention wasn’t to create something we thought was just cool: Our role was to bring to life the identity they had in their hearts and minds, and help differentiate them in the crowded marketplace.
The resulting suite of logos and initial set of cans evoked Sommers family stories, and accentuated elements of local lore already found in the names of their beers. Brewery employees and taproom regulars alike embraced the new designs.
“Everyone said something different, but they were all positive, and every comment could be tied to a specific piece of our brand that we hoped would connect with them,” said Mark. “It might have been the first time we created something that felt like us and did what we wanted. It was great.”
Complementing the new logos and cans, we worked with Berthoud to create a go-to-market retail and sales toolkit. Understanding the multitude of challenges, responsibilities and distractions distributors and retailers face every day, we developed a clear, concise set of tools that:
Assist the Berthoud Brewing sales team every time they walk in the door,
Serve as all-encompassing informational leave-behind pieces when buyers and key stakeholders aren't available,
Function as easy to produce and versatile retail POS pieces that are easy to place in high visibility locations in any kind of account.
By unifying and simplifying the elements, we're making every step of the sales process easier for everyone involved.
Jesse described the first time we walked him through the pitch deck, “It was definitely that ‘a-ha’ moment. I saw how the brand architecture played into the creative process, and how what we created could then be used to help us sell and showcase our beer in the market.” He continued, “We’ve actually been able to take what we’ve learned and use that to help us make better decisions brewery-wide. It’s really transformed how we do things.”
HITTING TARGETS, BREAKING GROUND, SHATTERING RECORDS
With their new packaging and POS reflecting the brand’s throwback nature and Americana vibe, consumers and retailers alike gravitated to Berthoud in record numbers.
“We saw an immediate impact. The first quarter after the relaunch our rate of sale jumped in existing accounts and our total points of distribution were up 25%,” Jesse shared.
Berthoud’s momentum has continued into this spring, with record numbers in what is traditionally a slower period in the craft beer sales cycle.
“We sold more beer this February than any other month in our history,” Jesse said. “Our Q1 distribution revenue was up 2x from last year. It’s a great trend heading into summer.”
GROWTH IN KEY CATEGORIES
Prior to their rebrand, Berthoud Brewing’s most popular beer had been their Fireside Scottish Ale. But with nearly one third of all craft beers being IPAs, growing their primary entry in the category, Little Thompson IPA, was critical. “The new IPA cans, with their nod to the Colorado flag and our water source, the Little Thompson river, have been hard to keep on some shelves. We’ve seen our sales jump 228% since launching them,” Jesse shared.
Berthoud is also reporting record numbers in the lower ABV category—a surging industry segment with heightened importance and attention as the summer selling season approaches. Berthoud prides itself on making especially approachable and drinkable beers, and two of their core beers in the category are reaping the benefits of the rebrand. Since the rebrand, and over the slower winter and spring selling periods, Lowrider Lite is up 57% and Lowrider Lime is plus 33%.
“We’re psyched to see the way Lowrider Lite and Lowrider Lime performed during a time of year when we expect to see those numbers to sink sharply in the red. Being able to offer bold and unique packaging really helped us distinguish each brand individually,” said Jesse.
CAPITALIZING ON CONTENT
One critical step in developing the sales toolkit materials was getting the redesigned cans behind the lens, both in the studio and the wild. Fresh content is the lifeblood of every brand, and doing it with ultra-high-resolution, on-message imagery is what often makes the difference from just having presence to making a lasting impression.
"At some point every member of our staff has been outside doing something cool like fishing or biking and tried taking pictures with our cans. And they just never turn out as good as you feel like they should,” lamented Jesse. “Turn It Up has this kind of thing down to a science, and their pictures are so much better than anything we could even dream of taking."
In addition to the refreshed sales materials, Berthoud has deployed the versatile content on projects like event posters, overhauled social media accounts, and in media outreach. Other uses like retail programming, website development, and seasonal retail programs and campaigns are on the docket.
PARTNERING FOR GOOD
In December, Berthoud teamed up with the non-profit Can’d Aid to kick off a fundraising effort supporting the construction of an adaptive park in their community. With their brand architecture reinforcing community support, getting involved was a no-brainer.
“Turn It Up has a long-standing relationship with Can’d Aid. When they approached us with the concept, it wasn’t a question of ‘What do we have to do?’’.’ It was more about ‘When do we start and what else can we do?’,” shared Mark. “I’m proud of the role we played last December and that we could play a part in helping raise over $15,000. But that’s really just the start. We’re looking forward to being involved for the long haul.”
SPREADING THE WORD
For any craft brewery, trying to garner the attention of the media is frequently an exercise in futility. Too often, even when a compelling story is involved, the sheer amount of emails and press releases writers receive is akin to drinking from a fire hose.
However, by activating Turn It Up’s extensive experience conducting PR and media relations within the craft industry, to national news outlets and everything in between, Berthoud Brewing’s charitable efforts and authentic tie to their community landed some well deserved attention.
Here is a list of initial Media Placements: FORBES, Thirst Colorado , The Loveland Reporter Herald, Berthoud Weekly Surveyor, North Forty News, The Longmont Times-Call, BizWest, Craft Brewing Business, My Beer Buzz, The Brewer Magazine, Brewbound.
CAMPAIGN ROLL-OUT FOR PRIMARY SEASON
With the launch of the rebrand in full swing and new footholds being established in the community, the brewery is turning its eyes on their first retail campaign to support the biggest selling period for craft brewers. We can’t give details yet but we can share that it’s going to be a significant retail program providing the sales team with the tools to drive distribution and feature placements, provide value to the retailer, and drive consumer engagement with an enter-to-win campaign surrounding a sizable northern Colorado outdoors expo and event.
“We’re rookies to marketing campaigns. We never would’ve done anything like this without Turn It Up. But they’ve created something for us that’s super turnkey and provides opportunities for success in so many different ways,” said Jesse. “They’ve created a really impressive template for programs that wins on every level, capitalizes on existing relationships, and even creates new ones both within the beer world and beyond."
It’s an exciting time for Berthoud Brewing. By taking a chance and showing the willingness to try something different, they have a greater connection to, and control over, their brand than ever before. With this newfound knowledge and power they have unprecedented momentum and opportunity.
“It probably goes without saying, but we’re really glad we didn’t stick to our guns and just go with a can rebrand,” Jesse closed.
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Looking for greater connection to, confidence in, and control over your brand? Feeling like you could use a fresh perspective or different approach? Seeking new ideas and tools to inject some life into your brand and support your sales team? Drop us a line.