Branding Checkup: Atwater Retools


Yet another craft brand is revamping its look.

Michigan’s Atwater Brewing today introduced a completely redesigned brand identity and a new campaign — “Born in Detroit. Raised Everywhere.” — which is aimed at setting the brewery “further apart from their competition,” the company said in a news release.

Simultaneously, Atwater also introduced three new beers — Going Steady IPA, a session ale brewed with grapefruit, Corktown Rye IPA and Tunnel Ram Imperial Bock — which will roll out in early January.

The company joins a growing list of established craft brands — including Coronado Brewing, Boulevard Brewing, Harpoon and Great Lakes — freshening up their looks in an attempt to stand out on increasingly crowded retailer shelves.

“Craft brewing is becoming a big business but it’s a business about good times,” Atwater owner Mark Rieth said in the statement. “Brewing it and coming up with these new flavors and personalities is part of the fun.”

The company tapped Detroit artist Tony Roko — who has commissioned works for the likes of Lady Gaga, Jay Leno and the Ford Motor Company — to create 26 new label designs.

Drawing inspiration from the French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh, Roko used what he described as an “expressive style” to pair Detroit’s “colorful characters” with Atwater’s beer.

Atwater’s old labels, most of which had depicted the Detroit skyline, were scraped in favor of Roko’s unique post-industrialist style. According to Roko, the new designs blend the “commercial sensibility” of Toulouse-Lautrec with a “van-Gogh-esque pallet.”

Going Steady IPA (4.6 percent ABV), Corktown Rye IPA (6.2 percent ABV) and Tunnel Ram Imperial Bock (7.8 percent ABV) are the first beers to receive the updated treatment and will be sold across Atwater’s entire distribution footprint, which includes 27 states and Canada.

“Now we’re focused on making sure people remember us and think about us first and that’s what these new labels are intended to do,” Rieth said in the statement.

Recall that Atwater, which is slated to open its second beer garden in Grand Rapids next year, has also expressed a desire to build two new production facilities in Austin and North Carolina in 2016.