In some ways, it’s always been simply Shades Brewing.
“The first thing,” says CMO Dave Murray, when asked about the brewery’s new name and branding, “is that everybody refers to us as Shades.”
It’s not uncommon for consumers to shorthand a corporate name. Toyota isn’t ever Toyota Motor Corporation in casual conversation. And earlier this year Wal-Mart Stores Inc. went a step further to officially become Walmart.
Such nomenclature is common in the Utah beer community as well.
A. Fisher Brewing Company, RoHa Brewing Project, and Squatters Craft Beers are three examples where familiar names don’t match up with what may be required on legal documents.
And yes, as Murray mentions, it’s rare for someone to refer to the South Salt Lake brewery by its formal name — Shades of Pale Brewing Company.
Listen to the accompanying podcast episode.
Shades Brewing: Brand Equity, Name Recognition
Shades is going all-in to better leverage what it believes to be strong name recognition and brand equity.
“We’re going more toward Shades being our brand name,” Murray says. “Because that’s how the market has reacted to us, it’s often how we refer to ourselves. It’s easy to say, it’s easy to remember, people understand it.”
There’s more to the move than simply lopping off half the name.
Shades of Pale Brewing will remain the parent company, but Shades is an identity, a personality, Murray and Shades Brewing founder Trent Fargher told Utah Beer News.
It’s this identity that brewery insiders are developing and nurturing, with the hope that it will resonate with current and potential customers alike.
Instead of drinking different beer “styles,” the idea is to enjoy different “shades” of beer. It complements the new “Shades for All” tagline.
“This is an opportunity for us to say, OK, this is what we’re about,” Murray says. “We’re about creating different beers and different styles…”
But in the end, it’s about “finding the shade that is appropriate for you.”
Shades for All
While the brewery’s committed to its core offerings — Misdirected IPA, Publican Pale Ale, Jack Wagon Wheat, etc. — it’s confident that within one of its currently 17 styles, even non-beer drinkers will find a “shade” they like.
“We’ve had so many people come down and sample the Kveik (golden sour ale) line who said they don’t like beer,” Murray says. “But then they try it and say…this is the first beer I’ve ever liked. This is really beer?”
Bonus: Listen to the Utah Beer News Podcast to hear Trent Fargher, Shades Brewing founder, talk about what’s in store for the award-winning Kveik golden sour ales. Hint: At least six additional beers are in the works.
The new Shades identity will be reflected in everything from packaging to tap handles to marketing materials to how brewery employees speak to customers. It’s a big project that will likely take months to completely swap out everything.
The entire label — UPC code, government warning, everything — will become the Shades brand mark, Murray says. Its aim is to be instantly identifiable.
Shades labels all will feature the same design, except for each product’s unique name and a different two-tone color scheme.
A Focus on Beer
The focus, therefore, will be on the beer inside the bottle.
“We’re very proud of the quality level of our beers,” Murray says. “We want our name to be first and foremost. You know whatever shade you pick up, you’re going to enjoy.”
What’s inside the bottle will remain consistent, Fargher says, conceding there may be a few minor tweaks here and there to existing recipes.
But in order to stay relevant and to continue to grow, evolution must occur. New beers — some only available for a limited time at the Shades Brewing taproom, others that stick around — are always in play.
And Fargher hinted at something bigger that’s in the works.
“We have a whole lineup that we’re working on now to bring to market in the next six to 12 months,” he says. “We’re very excited. As we develop our timeline, we’ll start to release more information about what’s coming.”
He’s constantly searching for holes in the marketplace where Shades might fit.
Admitting he’s “IPA’d out,” Fargher mentioned certain beer styles are underrepresented and they’re “welcoming to those people who just aren’t super IPA fans. That’s a big market that hasn’t really been fulfilled at this point.”
As for the packaging, “memorable,” is the word Murray uses to describe the new, understated look and feel.
“We’re inundated every day by thousands of images we don’t remember,” he says. “We want the beer to speak for itself. We’ll let you decide what you want to make of the beer. We’re not going to try to make (the branding) flashy. We’re about putting that effort into making great beer.”
Shades Brewing: Looking Toward the Future
Murray, who joined Shades Brewing as its chief marketing officer about six months ago, knew from the moment he first sipped a Shades beer that he wanted to contribute to the brewery’s growth. With that, he’s spearheaded the branding shift.
“I fell in love quickly with the quality of the beer and the entire operation,” he says. “I’m happy to be part of what we see as a big evolution in the next two years with this company.”
While Shades didn’t divulge 2018 sales numbers or current growth rates, Murray is setting his sights on doubling the brewery’s business next year.
Fargher, as founder and owner, considers that a conservative estimate.
“Doubling would be good, but that’s not where I have my sights set,” he says. “I can see us starting to expand in some new market spaces outside that state that will allow us to attract people that may or may not have heard of us.”
In addition, Shades Brewing owns a building next door and is contemplating ways to utilize the space.
For now, the new branding is front-and-center. In the coming weeks, consumers will start to see the “minimalist,” “not over the top” packaging.
Shades Brewing hopes you’ll notice it — and remember it.
“I’m excited because I think (the branding) will give us a singular image in the marketplace,” Murray says. “It will help us take that next step in growth and to come out in a way that is recognizable, memorable, understandable, likable, and frankly, just cool.”