Fort Collins' New Belgium Redesigning Iconic Beer Labels with San Francisco Agency, Bummer

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We'll always wonder why brands walk away from their iconic packaging design. Maybe they just get sick of seeing it day after day, but you gotta question the decision when beer drinkers come to recognize the distinctive label artwork so well that they know exactly what to look for and grab off the shelves.

No matter, in this case. Fort Collins, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing has decided it's time to update their iconic look and have moved ahead with it. Unfortunately, they haven't rehired longtime Denver agency partner Cultivator to restyle the brand. They've gone with San Francisco's Hatch Design to carry the torch — equally questionable because they don't share the home state with what many believed to be a brewer loyal to their roots.

In the new labels, the 22-year-old hand-painted, watercolor designs created by the founders’ neighbor will be replaced by a "fresh and contemporary look that re-imagines the brand through a modern lens." The new look and feel will hit January 2014 with a portfolio-wide packaging refresh. The only place to officially see the redesigned labels as they're revealed is in the 'Exclusive Content' section of New Belgium’s mobile app. You can download the app for free by searching “Beer Mode” in the App Store or Google Play.

What do you think of New Belgium's decision and the resulting design?



Shame on New Belgium. Although I think an update is good, what are they really thinking? They even changed the logo. It looks like they forgot to print the name on it. Dumb move. Why is it that once a business gets big enough they decide that they need to move agency's? I am wondering who were the agency's that bid on the job?

My prediction, New Belgium screws their employee owned idea and goes public.

Looks great. Don't be afraid of change. I highly doubt beer drinkers are going to be confused looking for Fat Tire on the shelf after the rebranding. Come on.

Plus no more Copperplate Gothic!!!!

Boo. Looks like every other microbrew in the cooler case. They're welcome to take it out of state, I suppose, but when you promote how Colorado you are, it better be for something off-the-charts good that still screams Colorado ... which this isn't. Should have stuck with Cultivator.

I think the redesign looks good, but I don't think it's anything Cultivator couldn't do.

i think there's arguments for both sides in this case. bummer they went outta state. that being said i like the refresh for better or for worse.

The truth is, New Belgium these days is FAR from a local micro-brewery in any true sense of the word. Going outside of Colorado for a re-design is the least of their problems from that angle.

My money is that fact played into why they decided to re-design: to try and give the brand a "homier", less-homogenized feel. I think from that angle, it works. As far as true CO small business? Go elsewhere.

these are awesome.

Looks like Campbell's soup labels.

They are pretty boring. You would think with a redesign it would be something a little more thoughtful. They are simple and modern but they definitely don't Stand out in the crowd.

I wonder if this is their way of fixing the 2 color graphic artwork from long ago that is their Trippel, Belgo, and Abbey labels. Granted, it is obvious they are trying to go a different direction (see their current bomber art) and with a third major adjustment to their labels I'm starting to wonder what's going on internally.

The art is beautiful but the the loss of the heavy and rich colors seems disappointing. And the removal of the text in the logo creates a feeling of over confidence that comes with being so ubiquitous.

Ah, Joel Templin and his stark French and Company roots are showing here. 10 years ago I would have said that this brewery going out of state is just them chasing the best talent anywhere. Cultivator or any of the dozens of other top notch firms and hundreds of top-notch creatives have transformed the Front Range from a design/creative backwater to a leader in thought (notwithstanding the crap egg Making Colorado just laid thanks rest of the Alex Bogusky carpetbagging empire devotees)

But I will say that today Colorado talent can match and exceed anyone in SF (Hatch/Templin/Gaby Brink, et al), period. There's no excuse for going out of state.

But few people will care. It's an okay design.

So this is a modern lens? I agree they look like old campbell's soup labels.

It's important to remind local companies to not overlook local Colorado talent, but let's not forget that we also poach clients from outside locales. I have been fortunate to work with several out-of-state breweries including one on Hatch's home turf. What if my clients were browbeat by local designers to not work with an out-of-state company? That's not good for Colorado talent either.

As for the design, I like the sophistication that Hatch has introduced into these two labels. New Belgium was in need of greater consistency across their product lines. While restrained, it still has character, warmth, and a carefree outlook.

Maybe it's more archer farms than Campbell's soup.

What happened to CO roots Melyssa??

People are all up in arms about NB?? So what....Their lineup these days, with the exception of some of the lips of faith series, are IMO pedestrian at best. So they are going with the Archer Farms logo. Perhaps they are merging with Target (Disney) and will be the official beer at Epcot.

I agree with many of the comments here—boring design. Archer Farms likeness, out of state talent, loss of rich colors, etc. Bottom line, I don't like the new label. It is as if they successfully branded themselves and then in the midst of that success, attempted to redefine the brand. Consumers are drawn to the familiar. Believe it or not, a new label alters product attachment.

What a tragic mistake! New Belgium is listening to bad marketing advice.

dont like them

Kinda look like covers of children's books.

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