These 3 Key Points Set the Tone for Peace Tree’s Brand Refresh

Iowa’s Peace Tree Brewing started thinking about a brand refresh about three years ago and had originally planned to launch it during the company’s 10th anniversary year, but the pandemic made the brewery pivot quickly to other important needs.

But last summer owner Megan McKay told Brewer that they made a decision to purchase a canning line and transition most of the Knoxville, Iowa brewery’s brands from the signature short stubby bottle into cans.

“We felt like our current packaging didn’t translate well,” she admitted. “The art was amazing but our name and each beer name wasn’t put forward enough.”

Uniformity and having a consumer quickly key in on three points was vital in the refresh for owner Megan McKay.

“Primarily the new look makes it easier for people to identify three critical things: that they are grabbing a Peace Tree beer, the name of the beer, and the flavor profile,” she said.

McKay said while the old labels were very art forward, beautiful, and fun, the feedback they often had was that these three key elements were hard to read.

“I think our beer design worked really well for us in the beginning as we wanted to signal something new and different but as more of our business moves to store shelves and the change from bottles to cans, it wasn’t working as well,” she said. “The new graphics and fonts still show our artful, creative side and the wood grain pattern is playful and fun while signaling our roots.”

McKay said that in the past, each can was so individually designed it made it hard for customers to see consistency and know it was the same company.

“The rebrand has helped us have consistent colors and fonts and a scalable design system we can apply to many applications from labels to social media to our taprooms and beyond,” she said.

The market has also changed a lot since the brewery launched in 2009.

“We really hadn’t put any marketing behind our brand because, in the beginning, it wasn’t that necessary,” she noted. “But as we age and the craft beer scene gets more mature, it was time to get serious about marketing.”

McKay searched for an outside firm to help and said she found a great fit with Meld Marketing.

“What started as my ill-defined need for ‘marketing help,’ caused me to really examine what question needed to be answered: How do we get people to choose Peace Tree on the shelf or at the bar,” she said. “It’s a big question but we dug in and, with Meld’s expert help, decided it was time for a full refresh.”

Meld worked with Peace Tree to do a full discovery of the brand, its history, the brewery, the taproom and store sides, the personality, the audiences, and competitive analysis.

“From that, they brought forward a brand statement that represented us,” McKay said. “Then they went to work on the visuals that tied our brand to our imagery. They didn’t want to just create a new logo and refine our colors, they wanted to work with us to take a holistic look at where we are now in our growth … and how the marketing goals could fit the business goals.”

Those fresh eyes made McKay and her staff prioritize different aspects and really hone in on what’s important.

An example is how they now tell their story.

“We’ve always had a wonderful story we embraced, we just didn’t have it weaved consistently onto our labels and packs or on our social media platforms,” she said. “It helps to have outside support for that and also to have a partner who works with you to ensure the brand is authentic to who we are. Our differentiator has always been art, but we also have always had a more organic feel. It’s a nuance but they really understood it: so this new look speaks to our roots in my hometown of Knoxville, our connection to nature in the tree that inspired our name, and our emphasis on creating and supporting the community.

“We really are different than many other craft breweries, in part because we’re located in my hometown. Also, because we’re women-owned and operated. Meld helps to tell that story as well as the story of our incredible team and brewery operations. They can see it more clearly at times because they do have fresh eyes and regularly remind us that something we see or do every day is a special part of our brand that our customers love and want to hear more about.”

For a short time, McKay said customers will see the old and new packaging exist side by side on shelves. “We’re a small, independent craft brewery so we’re taking a slower path to the full brand reveal,” she said. “It’s a little like the process for creating beers, there’s no need to rush it. As new beers and cans come off the line, we’ll reveal them one by one.”

McKay said it’s appropriate that Red Rambler, which is one of Peace Tree’s flagship beers, is the first release. The red ale honors the history of the Knoxville brewery’s location, which was once a Nash Rambler car dealership. The next beer released will be East Village IPA, created as a nod to the vibrant and eclectic neighborhood Peace Tree’s Des Moines Taproom calls home.

The goal is to have all of the refreshed cans and bottles on the shelves by the end of March.

“It’s a great way to reintroduce ourselves and our core brands to current and potential accounts,” McKay said. “In fact, our first campaign is centered around the phrase “Let us Reintroduce Ourselves” for that very reason.

“It’s a great conversation starter wherever we go whether it’s a store, a bar, an event, or our own taprooms. It also shows our distributor and retailer partners that we are investing in our business and looking forward. Plus it gives us fresh energy internally.”

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