Established in 1998, Upland Brewing Company is a craft brewer in Bloomington, Indiana — the second largest in the state — producing up to 30 different brews a year. With regional distribution and four food and beverage establishments in Indiana, Upland is a local favorite. A new identity and packaging have been designed by Indianapolis, IN-based Young & Laramore
The goal of the new look was simple: to capture the quality, culture and spirit that make Upland—and its community—unique. The hand-crafted nature of the beer is reflected in the extensive use of hand-lettered type and illustrations, whether in the distinctive hills logo, or in the packaging and related materials.
The old logo was like an abstraction of Windows’ Bliss desktop wallpaper. It wasn’t terribly offensive graphic-wise but it wasn’t anything to get too excited about either — the typography, yeah, that was offensive. The new logo is a handsome illustration of the rare highlands of the otherwise flat Indiana geology that the brewery is named after. The shading technique is really nice — I wish they had done something similar with the otherwise flat sky — and the hand-drawn, rising typography is quirky and crafty. A dramatic improvement over the old one. Both the logo and type look great on the glassware.
The personality of the company, meanwhile, comes through in the descriptions of each beer that accompany the illustrations (Dragonfly IPA: “Just the right amount of bite”), as well as a longer story about each beer on the bottom of its carrier.
The new bottles and 6-packs… you either hate or love, depending on how you feel about this kind of wobbly, rugged illustrations and the curved, swashed, script typography — both in trend at the moment (or perhaps one or two moments ago). As a family of beers, they all come together nicely and cohesively. Individually, I think they are fine. None of them move me to tears of either joy or angst. The logo on the packaging also seems like an afterthought, not fully integrated with the illustrations. We’ve seen better craft brewery repackagings in the past, so this one leaves me wanting something more or something else.
Finally, the brand overhaul will welcome Upland drinkers to a place called the “Other Midwest.”
Described as “a little bit hippie, a little bohemian, and a whole lot of ‘none of the above’,” the Other Midwest represents the mindset and lifestyle that unite Upland drinkers. The Other Midwest is everything that’s great about the Midwest—the friendliness, the welcoming spirit—but with a wavelength all its own. It supports local food, artists and musicians. It prizes sustainability and the great outdoors. It’s progressive, it’s unique, it’s proud to be Midwestern—and equally proud to be anything but “flyover country.”
I love the 24-pack boxes; there is something really great about that hill illustration and simpler typographic treatment that didn’t translate as well to the 6-packs. The tap handles are also dead-sexy and I think it’s because they are simpler, with only the custom script wordmarks of the beer names, sans all the other illustration stuff. The ads go for the more-is-more approach and they are fun to look at but there is so much to look at that the “The Other Midwest” message sort of gets lost. Overall, it’s definitely an exciting new visual approach that is barrels better than the old one but a little more cohesiveness or reigning in of the stylistic impulses could have been beneficial.