Our friends at Orange Element take over the Made In Baltimore blog to walk us through the design and branding journey that accompanied the launch of a new Baltimore craft beer brand. Thanks to both Orange Element and Monument City Brewing for sharing this story!
On Branding: Commitment, Success, and Happiness
Starting a new business and building a brand takes commitment, resources, and
follow-through. Understanding your market, offering options that consumers want to see,
and providing clarity will all support your efforts toward success. Success is the standard
goal of any new business, but establishing a successful brand depends on a devotion to
values and happiness. The core purpose of your business and what it has to offer should be
emulated throughout the brand. Strong-rooted values and a commitment to consistency
will create a smiling business and happy culture within.
We had the pleasure of listening, thinking, creating, and activating a Baltimore craft beer
brand known as Monument City Brewing Company. Here’s how we did it.
Turning a Passion into a Successful Craft Beer Brand
When the founders of Monument City commissioned Orange Element to help define and
launch a new brand strategy and identity, we were eager to kick things off. A passion for
home-brewing invoked the dream of building a Baltimore brewery with a great name rooted
in the history of this wonderful city.
The founders were prepared to commit to quality products, with locally sourced ingredients
when possible, and wanted an honest brand to thrive in the heart of our community. This
knowledge became our starting point, compelling us to listen to gain additional insights and
a deeper comprehension of Monument City’s ideas. We wanted to know what motivated
them, what inspired them, and what brands they liked, disliked and why.
Standing Out in a Crowded Market
When we sat down to brainstorm, we recognized how overwhelmingly crowded the craft
beer market was becoming. The rapid growth of on-shelf beer SKUs (well over 130 brands
in our region today) required us to identify opportunities that would make Monument City
get recognized amongst the noise. We thought about what aspects of our city could be
expressed in the brand, what elements can inform and shape an honest craft brand, and
how the brand could fit into the hardworking personality and close-knit community of
In our first pitch to Monument City, we set the following tone: “For beer drinkers seeking an
honest, great tasting, everyday brew without regard to trend status, Monument City creates
well-considered, drinkable ales designed to become, and stay, a go-to beer choice for
everyone who tries them”. Here we are nearly five years from the start of our work together,
and we are proud to see Monument City staying true to these core values and core brand.
Creating The Image
In order to create an identity that would fit right in with the manufacturing heritage of
Baltimore City and the brand vision, we researched everything from decades-old beer cans
to farm equipment, seed packaging, and industrial labeling. It was important for Monument
City to capture the true spirit and history of Baltimore, and we had a great time studying
what made many older designs so successful.
Our research helped us create an identity system to supply a series of core beers, known
today as Penchant Pils, 51 Rye, American Brown Ale, and Battle IPA. This new system
required consistency of brand elements with flexibility in style to allow seasonal and limited
variety in package design. These brand elements included fonts, colors, and icons that are
easily translated across core, seasonal, and limited brews. We were able to then use this
system to support additional packaging, tap handles, posters, collateral, environmental
graphics, and marketing campaigns. Today, we see this system utilized by additional artists
and designers to support new collaborations.
Activating an Honest Brand
There is a great sense of pride seeing our logo above the brewery doors or on a 6-pack from
a local store. There is a great sense of pride when watching a bartender pour a beer from
tap handles donning our designs, or seeing expansion, success and celebration at a brewery
for which we helped build the brand foundation. This pride comes from knowing we built a
brand system that allows for the founders and their partners to thrive on.
We congratulate Monument City Brewing Company on their most recent anniversary and
wish them continued success. Next time you reach for a beer, reach for a Monument.
Need to build, clarify or inspire your brand? Let’s get to work.