Established in 1993 (originally as Brown & Moran Brewing Company), Brown’s Brewing Company is a craft brewery in Troy, NY, where they operate two taprooms (with pub fare) and two private event spaces. Their main production facility (and where one of their taprooms lives) sits on a wonderful location on the banks of the historic Walloomsac River and where they are able to produce over 20,000 barrels of beer for wholesale retail distribution in the region. They brew three year-round beers, around four seasonal beers, four “Revolution Series” beer of adventurous flavors, and a slew of one-off concoctions. Over the course of 2017, Brown’s Brewing Company rolled out a new identity and packaging designed by local firm id29, who also designed the previous identity and packaging in 2003.
The updated Brown’s brand is a cleaner, more modern approach to their somewhat traditional brand identity. The visual heritage that was articulated in the original design was no longer as relevant in this space. Elements were not abandoned, rather refined and simplified.
I liked all the fuzzy detailing in the old logo; the engraved illustration of the brewery was particularly good but after a 13 - 14 years I can see how a change would be welcome, especially with the growing trend of simplification. The new logo maintains the basic structure of the old one but dials down the detail considerably and minimizes the role of the brewery building, which now serves more as an accent than an anchor to the logo. There are some weird proportions and angles to it when seen big but I like its integration into the holding shape. The wordmark is almost the same but with some changes that make it more cohesive (whereas before “BRO” was too condensed in contrast to “WN’S”) and easier to use in other applications as a standalone mark. The map of New York state and the date could have easily been skipped as they look tacked on instead of well integrated and the inner shadow in the holding shape is kind of confusing. Overall, though, the logo is more functional and cleaner.
The old packaging was pretty good. It had a classic beer label look but the typography and illustrations were well crafted and it all came together as a cohesive family. Its main drawback being that it looked like a number of other well-designed craft beers.
Moving from 12 oz. bottles to 16 oz. cans presented a design challenge for the new brand; we saw it as a design opportunity. Our modular approach highlights bright colors and geometry over the traditional craft brewing elements that are often found on tallboy cans. This ‘wrap’ design approach will work well on retail shelves, as there’s no actual front of the can to get hidden if rotated incorrectly in the 4-pack.
The new packaging is… different. It’s such a drastic change from the previous design that it takes a few minutes to adjust. Relying on wild, abstract patterns to differentiate between beers is a bit of a gamble and it would be a bigger one if Brown’s were a more mainstream brand but since it has a smaller, loyal audience it’s easier to bring them along for the ride. I like some of the patterns and I appreciate their daringness but I wish there was more unity or cohesiveness to them. While the cans are unified through the typographic bands at the bottom, there is nothing in the patterns that would indicate continuity, which, again, may not be a terrible thing but I like system-y things and these patterns don’t quite follow one. The bands at the bottom could all use about an eighth of an inch of extra space on the top and bottom so that they don’t feel so cramped and the beer names would have to be either way more different or way more similar as right now it’s hard to tell that they are different or not the same. However, despite my logical side of reasoning, I love how these cans look in real life. They are trippy, bold, and make a heck of a statement. Especially those tall “Burst” cans.
Overall, I like the balance of the more traditional logo and how well that plays in usual brewery applications paired with the crazy-ass patterns, which set up the brewery to do some cool and adventurous designs a few years down the road.