When Mother’s Brewing Company first started serving up its three year-round brews in 2011, craft beer had not exploded yet, and options were still fairly limited in southwest Missouri. Towhead, Lil’ Helper and Three Blind Mice—the company’s mainstays—were fresh new options, and they were well-received. There was something magical about heading to the store and picking up a six pack that was brewed right down the street. But after a while, this newness wore off and, more than anything else, the competition grew.
“The craft beer scene in general has really boomed since that time,” says Laura Head, marketing director at Mother’s Brewing Company. Soon, Mother’s wasn’t the new guy in town anymore. Craft beers were popping up everywhere, including several from other small-batch breweries in southwest Missouri and hundreds more from companies all over the country. The competition was fierce, and Mother’s Brewing Company owner Jeff Schrag knew it was time to beef up their game, especially when shelf sales were concerned. Luckily, Head was there to help. “When I came on board with the brewery, one of the initial projects I was targeting was a package refresh for our core brands,” Head says.
Chris Jarratt, Creative Director at Revel Advertising
Mother’s soon identified one of the major goals of its refresh: Developing a cohesive look. “When Mother’s first started, each beer and package was designed from scratch,” Head says. “This led to branding that was more developed for each individual product or variety rather than the Mother’s brand as a whole.” While still keeping the Mother’s logo, they hoped to create a cohesive look that could be used on labeling and packaging of the three flagship beers and, eventually, their seasonal flavors. And because Mother’s was coming up on its five-year anniversary—which happens this May—the timing was perfect.
Mother’s started by asking a handful of Springfield advertising agencies for RFPs (requests for proposals). “We reached out to four agencies,” Head says. “I would say anyone going through a similar process should reach out to at least three for sure. It’s important to have options.” In the end, Mother’s landed on Revel Advertising, who they started working with in mid-2015. But after a few frustrating months of trying to simply build from the label’s old looks to get to the new ones, they decided to scrap it all and start fresh. “Then we told Revel that there were no restrictions, and they didn’t need to keep anything from the old labels,” Head says. “We told them to start with a blank page and show us what they got.”
Next Revel Creative Director Chris Jarratt and his team got to work, eager to tackle the project. And they soon got back to Mother’s with 12 new concepts. “This was exciting, but also overwhelming,” Head says. Luckily, Mother’s Brewing Company was also working with People Centric Consulting Group at the time, and consultant Spencer Harris sat in on some meetings to help weed through the options. Head says it was beneficial having help, especially from someone who wasn’t quite so close to the brand. “Spencer helped us streamline by our initial reactions and votes,” Head says. “He really helped guide all of those decisions.”
After Mother’s chose their three favorite concepts, Revel and People Centric hosted focus groups to gauge the public’s reaction to them. “The consumers’ opinions meant a lot,” Jarratt says. “We held two separate groups to see what they’d choose. We really wanted that outside feedback from the target demo.” Once the groups’ decisions were in, Revel refined the options based on the feedback, then Mother’s made their final decision. They worked with a local illustrator to produce art for the project, and they’re now proudly printing new labels for their three mainstay beers and seasonal offerings, plus new carrier and case boxes, with much more to come.
While Mother’s is happy with the outcome, they’re quick to admit they had several speed bumps along the way. “We misstepped by not telling all employees what we were doing at first,” Head says. “We didn’t ask for initial feedback. It’s important to have that internal buy-in.” Once the entire Mother’s team got involved, things really started to gain momentum, Jarratt says. Another mistake was going into the project a bit blindly. “Having a detailed description of your brand and mission is key,” Head says. “We didn’t do that until after the fact, and it made us stumble along the way.” And Head says they should have really paid attention to hard deadlines. Alcohol labels have to be approved on both state and national levels. “Just those approvals take up about three months’ time,” Head says.
But now Mother’s Brewing Company has a new label that will not only hopefully help sell product, but also give them something they’ll love to show off. “We weren’t just thinking about something that was going to sell or resonate with consumers,” Head says. “We wanted something we could be proud of, and that really helped us hone in on our decision-making process.”