Creative management consultancy Squad has supported sixth-generation family brewer JW Lees with an historic overhaul of its brand identity, starting with the most dramatic change in its beer range for 190 years.
Squad has been working with JW Lees since 2016 when they were brought in by William Lees-Jones, managing director, to help the company think about its vision for the future.
They have worked closely with the JW Lees board over the last 12 months to reposition the brand in the face of an increasingly crowded landscape of traditional and new craft breweries. The broader impact of Squad’s work will eventually be apparent across the JW Lees brewery and pub estate.
Launching in November, branding for a collection of new and established beers is the first external manifestation of Squad’s strategic and creative work to ‘put the brewery at the heart of the business’.
Core range branding sees the collection of beers designed as a family, breaking from the previous design route of individual, stand-alone brands. These feature typography and illustration by Squad associate Daren Newman. This has resulted in best sellers Bitter and Manchester Pale Ale (MPA) taking on a dramatic new look.
"Squad has been working with us to define the brand vision and translate it across all operational areas of the business. We're delighted with how this has manifested itself in our new beer range. "
Squad has developed several new brands that will be added to the core range as well as a seasonal range for 2018 (see below). The core range will be expanded to include ‘Manchester Craft Lager’ in November, ‘Stout’ in January and ‘Gold’ in March. John Willie’s premium bitter will become Founder’s. The recipes of popular cask ales such as JW Lees Bitter, MPA and Moonraker won’t change.
The new strategy to become the ‘modern traditional brewer’ was launched internally at the company conference in June this year, including a film produced and directed by Squad and shot by cinematographer Percy Dean.
William Lees-Jones, said: “Squad has been working with us to define the brand vision and translate it across all operational areas of the business. We’re delighted with how this has manifested itself in our new beer range. These are exciting times and we believe that excitement will pass on to our customers as we start to introduce more innovations they wouldn’t necessarily expect from a traditional family brewer.”
David Barraclough, Creative Partner at Squad, said: “We felt it was important for the beer identity to reflect the ‘modern traditional brewer’ positioning. Our solution was a bold typographic identity that eschewed a restricted family of fonts usually associated with an identity system, in favour of a graphic approach that achieved consistency through deliberate diversity. Our font choices were wide and varied, many borne of the Victorian era, but their composition flexes to suit the beer, a moment in time, or a story.”
Rob Gray, Strategy Partner at Squad, said: “The new beer range is our first step in making the bar in each JW Lees pub the absolute focal point across the entire estate. Our work with JW Lees continues as we help them bring this idea to life across all operational areas of the business – from people and pub design, to menu content and marketing.”
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