“Hold onto your butts”
“Hold onto your butts”


“Hold onto your butts”

It’s go time! You’ve worked with your design firm for nearly ten months and are finally ready to unveil your rebrand to your fans. New identity, packaging and tap handles. New website, merch and sales sheets. Shiny new delivery vehicles, new signage, new glassware, new year, new you!

The big day comes and you watch with bated breath as everything goes live on social media. Press releases go out, local beer press is alerted and everything is going great. Then, a negative comment pops up.

Okay, no biggie.

Then another one, and another one. And now we’re looped into some sort of nasty Twitter thread. There seems to be a large number of people who really don’t like the new look. And now people are comparing our new logo to the logo of a brewery we’ve never heard of halfway across the country. People are making our logo into a meme on Instagram. And there’s already a negative Reddit thread about our packaging—how? We only just announced everything three hours ago. Some guy calling himself “BeerZorro98” has started a petition to get you to change everything back to the way it was. The sky is falling. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria.

What. Happened. Here?

Forgive the hyperbolic intro. We’ve seen this scenario (or some version of it) happen to a handful of breweries over the last few years, and it’s never fun to watch. People who hop online to eagerly look for the next thing to be outraged about gleefully take to the digital streets to drag your name and hard work through the mud. Call it annoying, childish, or sadistic—wherever you land on the ‘anyone-in-the-world-can-shit-on-your-hard-work’ spectrum, you can hedge against this by planning for a smooth and transparent brand launch.

We’ve found that there are two halves to a rebranding process. There’s the first half that we’ve spent most of this book working though—goal setting, wrestling with the idea of Evolution vs. Revolution and building your brand strategy ahead of the design process.

Then, there’s the rebrand rollout—how you tell your team, community, stakeholders and fans that you’ve rebranded. And the larger and more established your brewery, the more important this reveal becomes.

Why this is hard

Unfortunately, you can’t just flip a switch and call your rebrand done. Unveiling a rebrand is a complicated dance that has to be choreographed months in advance.

A few of the moving parts include having all of your new packaging finalized, approved by TTB, printed and on hand in time to be packaged. Oh, and you have to have beer sitting in tanks ready to put into this packaging. Alongside all of this, your old website has to come down and your new site has to go up. New social media art has to go up, press releases have to go out, new signage has to be fabricated, permitted and installed. You need piles of new merch for the taproom. And leading up to all of this, you have to educate your internal staff, sales folks, distributors, key accounts—everyone—about the impending changes so that you’re all moving in lock-step.

Easy right?

In a perfect world, everything goes live at the same time. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world with government shutdowns and aluminum tariffs that extend your label approval time and drive up your production costs. A world wherein the TTB sends back one of your beer cans for a correction that is exactly the same as the other three that they already approved. Or a world wherein you may be sitting on a truckload of expensive printed cans that you have to use before moving to the newly designed look. Add in a cellarman who quits mid-shift to move to Salt Lake City (I hear it’s nice there) or a canning line conveyor belt that breaks and you have a more accurate view of the world in which we all work.

In this imperfect world where you may not have everything squared away, you still need to strive to have everything go live in a manner that makes sense, whether in one glorious push or on an intentional, well-conceived schedule so that you can announce the rebrand effectively.

You need to control the narrative and tell your story.

Controlling the narrative

It’s important to not gloss over this portion of the rebranding process because you can confuse customers as to the reason behind your rebrand—“Why did they rebrand? Was something wrong? I liked their old packaging?!” More savvy customers may wonder if there’s a private equity deal in the works, if you have sold out, or if something else has happened that would otherwise make you less authentic and special in their eyes.

So it’s important to control this narrative and let people know that a change is coming ahead of time. But this isn’t just footwork to make sure you don’t confuse customers during the transition, it’s an opportunity to celebrate your new look and what it means for your brewery and your fans moving forward.

When your rebrand goes live, you will be inundated with earned media. That first week or two can seem like the entire industry is talking about you. You need to use this opportunity to tell beer buyers, restaurants, and wholesale accounts (new and old) what your brewery is about and why you went through this change.

Maximizing this exposure and making sure everything goes smoothly starts somewhat counter intuitively—by steeling yourself.

Gird yourself

Whether your brewery is 2 years old or 20 years old (and especially if you’re older than 20), there will always be a contingent that feels slighted by your brand update. Don’t take it personally. These folks won’t like any change no matter how minor it is. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Rebrands can leave people confused and frustrated, especially if they’re loyal, longtime fans. (“It wasn’t broke, why’d they fix it?”)

As a branding firm, CODO lives and dies by every comment that rolls in during launch week. This isn’t healthy, but I feel like you need to hear the truth. There will be a few negative comments no matter what you’ve done, but there will also be an overwhelming amount of positive feedback (assuming you and your design firm did your jobs right). Keep your chin up and don’t let a little online grumbling distract you from telling your story or make you second guess months of strategically sound work.