Staying true to its roots while moving forward
How Alaskan Brewing Co. captures top-shelf attention
The story of Alaskan Brewing Co. really embodies the independent spirit and can-do attitude of a state that calls itself “The Last Frontier.” In the mid-80s, Marcy and Geoff Larson fell in love with the place, but had to find a way to support themselves – no small feat in Alaska. Geoff was a home brewer, and a friend suggested they start a brewery. “Other than the extreme financial and logistical challenges, we couldn’t think of why not,” the couple says.
While researching, Marcy found an eight-decade-old set of brewery records, listing ingredients and a recipe. That became Alaskan’s first product, Alaskan Amber. The start of the company was humble – Geoff, Marcy and 10 volunteers packing the first 253 cases in the winter of 1986. Since then, the spirit of Alaskan Brewing Co. has triumphed. The company has grown to become one of the most award-winning craft breweries in the history of the Great American Beer Festival, and now distributes to 17 states.
Success and growth brings change. That can sometimes dilute a strong brand like Alaskan’s. The evolution of the company’s products resulted in somewhat of a misalignment in brand expression as reflected in a wide array of logos, print communications and package designs.
Recognizing that its brand, packaging and marketing must reflect the consistency and quality of the beer in the bottle, Alaskan reached out to Tenet Partners to help strengthen its identity. The company sought to re-emphasize its origins – the core values of local community, quality and fun that led to its success. At the same time, the brand needed to stay relevant in today’s changing and expanding marketplace.
For a company like Alaskan, getting the total customer experience right is essential. Each touch point matters. Packaging, imagery, textures, voice… all are part of the brand expression and they leave a lasting impression.
As a starting point for in-depth strategic discussions, Tenet audited Alaskan’s existing communications and packaging to uncover areas for refinement. The way forward became clear: keep enough of the existing brand elements intact so that loyal customers would not be confused or deterred, yet modernize the brand enough to attract the younger target audience.
A clear, thoughtful strategic direction is critical to success when rebuilding an established brand. The leadership at Alaskan Brewing Co. knew that, in order to achieve its goals, it would have to do more than engage in a design exercise.
Extensive discussions helped Tenet and Alaskan fully understand and capture the essence of the brand. Together, the teams developed key strategic elements – positioning, personality attributes and brand promise – that would become the foundation of a revitalized expression. This strategy informed the work of the design strategists at Tenet and translated into a refreshed visual identity energized by a bold typographic language and a distinct combination of textural and product imagery.
Tenet’s design recommendations have a singular goal: generate greater brand recognition and shelf presence for Alaskan by unifying all touch points, from marketing materials to promotions to packaging.
The strategy-infused design proved highly successful and helped propel Alaskan Brewing Co. forward. It was also the start of what has become an ongoing, collaborative relationship. Today, Tenet continues to be Alaskan’s trusted advisor, helping the company fulfill its vision of becoming a market leader in the craft brewing industry.