We didn’t need the Anchor rebranding fiasco to tell us what we already knew. Rebranding a beloved beer brand is much tougher than setting up a brewery and creating a brand from scratch. When even your current yeast is older than Beavertown, Brewdog, Camden Town and a few more of the bigger players put together, you have to dig deep to ensure that the next generation of drinkers find you relevant. Harvey’s, founded in 1790, was brewing nothing but cask when it embarked on a rebrand that gave the much-loved yet slightly dusty brand a huge shot in the arm. We asked sales & marketing manager Bob Trimm to talk us through their approach. Given Anchor’s abject lesson last week in how to screw up a re-design, we might give them his number.
What was the Harvey’s brand like before the rebrand? “We had a number of issues with the brand architecture, for one thing. Different parts of the business had ‘had a go’ over the years so we had about 5 versions of the logo, some introduced in the 50s, some in the 70s and some in the 90s.
Our Lewes Castle Brown Ale, for example, had won 2 world medals but didn’t even have the Harvey’s name on the bottle. Several of our products had different imagery between the same product in cask and bottle.
“And although we’ve always seen ourselves as a premium product, it wasn’t reflected in our design. Also, to be brutally honest, we had a strong following and staunch fans but we were seen as old fashioned amongst younger drinkers. People who didn’t know us well assumed that the sepia illustration of the brewery in our logo was how the brewery looked in 1790 and was now a museum rather than the actual brewery.”
So what was the brief? “To introduce a singular company logo and a brand hierarchy that could underpin the evolution of the brewery and the product range, and to emphasise the provenance, heritage and quality of our beers and our business. We initially approached 8 agencies – 4 turned up to the meeting with redesigned logos so we knew they weren’t the ones for us. Two agencies wanted to turn us into Beavertown which would have been a disaster. We finally selected WPA Pinfold as their collaborative approach and the thorough, strategic process felt appropriate for the task in hand.”
What was the rebrand process like? “We wanted as many people as possible to be involved in the redesign – there’s nothing worse than unveiling a new look only for people to hate it. A group of 10 directors, marketing, sales, retail, brewing and pub estate people were involved, We had fascinating discussions about what the Harvey’s brand meant to them – we brainstormed, had creative sessions and really opened up discussions, Only then did the agency start work on the concept. They came back with 4 design routes, none of which we’d have rejected out of hand. We decided on one route for the core range, with elements of another that allowed some flexibility for our seasonal beers and the introduction of our can and keg range.
“For the seasonal range, we actually had a draw-off between a Leeds-based artist that the agency suggested, and a local artist (Malcolm Trollope-Davis) who was born and bred in Sussex. They did 5 designs each for our seasonal beers, and as soon as we saw them, we all agreed that the local artist had just captured something about the area that was right for us. The designs went straight from the sketchbook to the pumpclips.. For the cans, we commissioned an abstract painting from local artist Susan Lynch and used elements of that across the range.”
What’s been the payback from the rebrand? “Now we’re in cans and bottles, with a contemporary design that conveys our heritage and the quality of the product, we’re opening up new markets. We have keg and cans on all P&O cruises (when they get going again), in restaurants, we’re pouring on the British Airways i360 and more locally, we got tremendous feedback at Brighton & Hove Albion when as well as our cask ales, fans could see walls of our beer, from stout to IPA.
We’re intrigued by “We wunt be druv”! “It’s the unofficial county motto of Sussex and means ‘We will not be driven’ – reflecting the independence, spirit and pride that’s at the heart of everything. It reflects a stubbornness and strength that we aspire to, particularly in regard to our independence. Harvey’s is currently run by the seventh generation of the family, with two members of the eighth generation working here, the ethos being that they are custodians of the business which they hold in perpetuity for future generations. You might see other brewers our size succumbing to takeovers, but Harvey’s will remain a family business.”
A couple of questions we’ve asked everyone else. Your own design aside, who do you admire? “Chiltern Brewery. You can go into a pub on a busy Friday night, look at 6 handpulls and have no idea what sort of beers they are. Chiltern has created a very clever design that makes everything evident, down to the colour of the beer.”
Reading anything interesting? “I’m half way through Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle – it’s my first Follett and I’m enjoying it.”
Cats or dogs? “I’d better say cats as I’ve got one.”
Indeed Bob, you better had. Tiger by name, tiger by nature.
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