When the Woodstock Inn Brewery launched in 1995, we were able to make a name for ourselves in the burgeoning craft beer business, creating now-legendary beers like Pigs Ear Brown Ale.
As a former producer and content developer for Disney, Ricciardi created promotional collateral and advertising for The Disney Channel, Disney Junior, XD, and Pixar, and Banks the former Art Director at The Boston Phoenix / WFNX, and Adjunct Faculty at The New England School of Design. Together, they set out to develop a new brand strategy, tone, and style for packaging, labels, advertising and more. Following his initial meeting and branding conversation with Woodstock ownership he promptly called Kevin during his drive back.
“We'd been looking for a collaborative project that would challenge us yet still be a boatload of fun. Following that meeting at the brewery, and as soon as I got a cell signal, I called Kevin!” Ricciardi said.
According to Banks, “We wanted to capture the brand’s personality and add a slightly more contemporary feel while retaining a cheeky, playful sense of humor.”
Last April the brewery launched 23 new designs for its labels and they haven’t looked back since! Ricciardi and Banks spoke about the process of rebranding Woodstock, coming up with new taglines, and why it was time to embrace change.
“Woodstock Inn Brewery is a pioneer of the local craft beer industry. Twenty years ago the competition was very clearly defined but today there are thousands of craft breweries popping up. Store shelves are jammed with varieties and brands, battling for your attention,” Ricciardi said. “Woodstock had a very unique look and style twenty years ago - however, styles and taste have drastically changed. In order to compete on the shelf - the look of the beer had to change!” Banks added.
What are some challenges in rebranding a well-known beer like ours? How did you overcome those challenges?
Change is always difficult. This rebrand was an enormous change for Woodstock. This has been their baby for twenty plus years, and all of a sudden we're tossing so many elements they've grown accustomed to seeing aside, and saying "trust us!" The reality is, the packaging is a reflection of the product inside the can. If you look dated, tired and out of touch, public perception will likely (if not subconsciously) react to your product similarly.
The team at Woodstock is a joy to work with. The biggest challenge was getting certain elements of the labels approved by the government. It was really often just a matter of finding the right way to position a statement, or expressing an idea so that it was clear.
Tell me where the new taglines come from?
When was the last time you shopped for beer and saw a package that said "handcrafted with care" and said to yourself "Phew, as long as it was handcrafted with care, I'll buy it!"
Now Made with 100% More New Hampshire and #PoweredByNH both come from the desire to differentiate Woodstock from the typical craft beer approach.
Woodstock Inn Brewery is about more than just beer. The experience they provide is one that is truly and uniquely New Hampshire! We felt it fitting to convey that by finding a way to tell people that inside each can you’ll discover the mountains, lakes, streams, small towns, farms, cities, and seacoast. This is the flavor of NH!
Can you guys describe how you came up with the new packaging designs and what the goal was?
The mainstay beers like Pigs Ear, 4000 Footer IPA, Red Rack etc. and the Seasonals "Lemon Blueberry, Autumn Ale, Frosty Goggles etc. all share a design we call "The Lift Ticket". Kevin spent so much of his formative years visiting New Hampshire with his family, he brought that sense of getting outdoors, enjoying nature, being active and having fun to the design, because that is what Woodstock Brewery is really all about! The Lift Ticket design is a more modern contemporary (and flexible) approach to incorporating the White Mountains as the backdrop of the rebrand. Equally as important, and especially as craft beer buyers, we wanted something that could leap off the shelf.
Woodstock’s Limited Edition beers, however, are a totally different beast which required a fresh perspective while retaining the same outdoorsy feel. Inspired by the regions seasonal changes and unreliable weather patterns, "The Cabin Sky" style design is something Kevin and I describe as... “Imagine Andrew Wyeth standing on a cabin roof in the mountains, on a half tab of orange barrel sunshine, painting the sky as it rolls past…”
The golden thread is the style, tone and voice of the copywriting. The intent behind the new label designs is to attract and draw people in. The copy (especially in regard to the beer descriptions), is intended to give the consumer a laugh, that we hope they'll share. Beer is fun, so we wanted to create an opportunity for the fun (to begin) the moment you pick up a can or 12 pack of any Woodstock Inn Brewery beer!
Many Woodstock Inn Brewery beers are available in stores throughout New Hampshire as well as Maine, Massachussetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.