Features DurhamBrewery

Published on May 3, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour

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Durham fast-forwarding

A brand is a perception of a company or product built over time, tapping subconsciously into people’s experiences and emotions. So, when your company is more than a quarter of a century old, how easy is it to change the direction of what you’ve been doing from day one

It’s the conundrum that faced Durham Brewery – how do you live up to your strapline: “Innovation with tradition”?

Durham’s Elly Bell has been leading their new branding project with Tom Lamb of Newcastle-based brand development, digital and design agency Blumilk.

She says: “We needed to move our branding to reflect more about Durham Brewery as an innovative and forward-thinking business which we undoubtedly are. It’s about who we are and what we are.

“Everything in the brand has to fit around all our products; cask, keg and bottle – we have three different ranges within the bottles alone. Consumers are happier when they’re comfortable and know what they’re getting. When they walk into a pub they have ten seconds to decide what they want – and we want that to be Magus, White Stout, Evensong or Kama Citra.

“We’ve got great beers and have never looked backwards as a business and the current labels and pumpclips have done us well. My mum Christine (Gibbs) did all the original artwork and created her own font in pen and pencil, working on the dining room table. She did a really good job, but maybe it’s too traditional now and a little bit dated.”

Tom Lamb’s brief included the plea, “we don’t want to slap heritage in the face”, so it was a challenge, particularly as Elly Bell insisted that they should also “head back to our roots”.

“Branding is the personality of a product and its story,” says Tom. “We wanted to emphasise the Rose Window at Durham Cathedral which was part of the original design work. We’re reflecting years of planning and production; we want all the elements of Durham Brewery to come through in a modern way – the market has moved on, but it’s not a case of ‘out with the old’. “

In the meantime, Durham Brewery managing director Steve Gibbs is listening and engaging with all this and points to the quality of Durham Brewery’s production over more than a quarter of a century. He says: “We’ve got a reputation for brewing beers that are really easy to drink, even the strong ones like Temptation (10% abv). We’re now doing beers with mango, blood orange, wheat and all kinds of fruit.”

Steve, as the region’s brewing confraternity knows, is a perfectionist, even popping in to the brewhouse on days off and at weekends to twist, turn and roll an oak cask full of Bombay 106 IPA that’s been conditioning for months to replicate the sea journey that an 19th Century IPA would have endured to reach India from Burton upon Trent.

In its small way, it demonstrate the time, effort, research and passion that Tom Lamb has been trusted with in creating a new branding for Durham Brewery.

“In a way it’s almost like business therapy,” he says.


About the Author

Alastair Gilmour



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