Book Review: ‘Craft Beer, Rebranded’ by CODO Design

Craft Beer, Rebranded (and the companion workbook) is a newly published step-by-step guide to help map out a successful strategy for rebranding a brewery. While written for the craft beer industry, it’s equally applicable to kombucha brands. Subtitled Evolution, revolution and creating a brand that sells more beer the book addresses the needs of breweries to update their branding while protecting their hard-earned reputation and brand equity.

These are not only for those who are rebranding. Any brewery in the planning stages would benefit from working through Craft Beer, Rebranded to frame a foundational brand strategy.

The material is based on CODO Design‘s decade of brewery branding experience. CODO is an Indianapolis, Indiana-based food and beverage branding firm. We first heard about them when they gave a recent Brewers Association presentation and were impressed by their 2020 Craft Beer Branding Trends report.

Branding 101

As much as kombucha brewers focus on fermentation, flavoring, and the alchemy of creating the elixir that goes into the bottle or can, it is often branding and design that convinces a customer to choose your bottle when browsing the shelves. It’s instructive to spend time lurking around a chiller in a Whole Foods or similar retailer. Watch how shoppers interact with the product (picking up one bottle, putting it back, choosing another).

Standing out from the crowd with a well-thought-out design and brand is a challenge the craft beer industry has faced for many years. CODO built their business, helping brewers tell the “story” of their beer to distinguish them from others. They understand that packaging has to leap off the shelf and grab the customers’ attention to produce sales. However, they caution that

Branding and packaging don’t work in a vacuum— there are many other factors at work that can affect the success of a rebranding effort, such as marketing and sales and broader industry trends. And while this is a book about the importance of branding, let’s not forget about the quality of the beer you’re brewing either.

If all you need is some help designing a logo or designing a new can or bottle, then this book won’t be much use. Neither is it a DIY guide to the creative process. Rather, it’s a way for a brewer to successfully plan how to work with design and branding professionals (like CODO).

Free online access

In the spirit of giving back to the community, CODO has made the content of their new book available online for free. While it’s much easier to run a project from the printed books, you can go online if you are curious about the contents before spending $40.

A practical guide

CODO states that the aim of the book is to:

… to give your team an overview on goal setting, building your internal and external design teams, weighing your brand equity, developing your brand strategy and releasing all of this work to the public.

Table of contents

The first three chapters establish the meaning and value of branding, goal setting, and building internal and external teams. They identify why rebranding might be needed. They focus on how to prioritize among project goals, what you want to accomplish, and how to measure your rebrand’s ROI down the line. 

The book gives you the tools to conduct a brand audit, weigh your equity, and consider the legal and intellectual property ramifications of the process.

Each section ends with a Workbook Preview that leads from the strategic outline into the implementation stage. This enables you to transform your ideas into the visuals that your creative partners will use.

Building your brand strategy

If you want to preview just one section in the book, take a few minutes to read the first three chapters in section five, which dive headlong into framing your brand strategy and creative brief.

Consider the list of questions they ask in the introduction to this section and, with a simple replacement of the word ‘beer’ with ‘kombucha’ you should see how valuable this comprehensive list is:

  • Why do you exist? Why do you work in the kombucha industry?
  • What do you love most and hate most about craft kombucha?
  • Why should people care about your brewery?
  • Why do you care? What are your brand values and vision?
  • What’s the story behind your brewery and kombucha name?
  • What is one word to describe your kombucha?
  • What’s the coolest thing about your kombucha?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What do you wish you could change about your brewery?
  • Describe your local kombucha scene (trends, your market share and your perceptions)
  • Who’s your competition? How do your competitors market/brand themselves? Are any of them doing a great job?
  • What sets you apart from your competition? What’s one thing you can completely own?
  • Who drinks your kombucha? Who are your people?
  • Is there any messaging we should avoid?
  • Where do you see your brewery in the next five years? Or, the next ten?
  • If you had a celebrity endorsement, who would it be?
  • If your brewery were a person, what personality traits would he or she have? (Or if you like, imagine your spirit animal instead…)

The eight chapters of Section Five are the meat and potatoes of the work any brewery needs to accomplish to prepare a completed workbook to hand to the agency or freelance designers you’ve hired.

Case Studies

The book is richly illustrated with examples of their work with clients.

As well as this eye candy they provide useful statistics demonstrating measurable results.

Kombucha – Rebranded

As the kombucha market becomes increasingly competitive, there’s a growing number of brands launching a new look. We’ve assembled the list below with the help of our indispensable assistant Ms. Google. Just as Codo’s craft beer examples illustrate their success, so this list provides kombucha brewers with examples of rebranding in our industry. What’s more, many of the links below are from the agencies involved who give the backstory details of the design choices they made. They range from full-on reports to brief descriptions. There’s even a fictional brand undertaken as a proof of concept and another which was a class assignment:

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