Calling themselves “a group of hard working, beer loving folks who get to bottle our enthusiasm every day,” the brewers of Detroit’s Atwater Brewery are pumping up their marketing muscle with three new flavors and a new brand identity and labeling program designed to set them even further apart from their competition.
“Atwater Brewery. Born in Detroit. Raised Everywhere.” The new brand theme says it all and the vividly colorful new labels by popularDetroit artist Tony Roko (whose recent accomplishments include commissions for Lady Gaga, Jay Leno and Ford Motor Company) depicts it all in a personal style, using the commercial sensibility of Toulouse-Lautrec with a van-Gogh-esque pallet, a couple of Roko’s favorite artists.
The new branding will be rolled out early in January (2016) concurrent with the introduction of three new Atwater brews – Going Steady IPA, a grapefruit session ale that “rocks any situation while keeping you rock steady,” Corktown Rye IPA, a spicy, sweet, bitter aromatic rye malt with a caramel backbone, and Tunnel Ram, an imperial bock that Atwater calls “the big block of big bock.”
“Craft brewing is becoming a big business but it’s a business about good times. Brewing it and coming up with these new flavors and personalities is part of the fun,” says Atwater Brewery owner Mark Rieth. “We’ve been all about Detroit since we brewed our first German-styled lagers 18 years ago and said we wanted to ‘bring Detroit everywhere.’ We’re now doing that with distribution in 27 states and Canada and still growing. Now we’re focused on making sure people remember us and think about us first and that’s what these new labels are intended to do.”
“Craft beer is an art movement in its own rite,” says Roko. “What started as a single painting for one label for just 40 cases of beer five months ago has turned into designing 26 labels for one of Michigan’s most exciting breweries. It’s the greatest gig ever.”
Roko uses an expressive style and tried to match Detroit’s colorful characters with individual beer flavors. He plans to frame each final label painting with unique handmade frames made from base moldings reclaimed from abandoned Detroit homes, another of his pet interests.
“Our new brand theme lets consumers know that Atwater brews can be enjoyed anywhere because they’re just damn good beers,” says Rieth. “We always say you can take the beer out of Detroit any time you want, but you can’t take our Detroit pride out of the beer.”
Driven Solutions worked with Atwater and Roko on the theme and its correlating packaging. Brian Cusac, Driven’s principal said, “The most important thing a craft brewer can offer a customer is authenticity. We feel that Atwater provides this in spades by staying true to the types of beers they like to make and by never forgetting their Detroit roots.”