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Please Note: Taproom CLOSED on Monday, 4/15 for a team trip to Busch Gardens. Back open at 3 pm on 4/16 for Taco Tuesday!

Beer Is Art, Art Is Beer – Part 2

From the early stages of our saga to find a visual brand identity, we now to flash forward to the year 2013. After receiving our very first submission for a Virginia Beer Co. logo, Chris and I took some time to come up with our ongoing action plan for brand development. We decided one of our next steps was to first focus on the border of the logo – we wanted to come up with a primary shape and outline that was not only unique, but that incorporated something unique about Virginia into the overall profile of the logo. We also agreed that while we loved incorporating William & Mary themed imagery, we were not sure that we wanted to use the College’s colors of green and gold as our own primary colors. Another fairly new brewery in Virginia, Center of the Universe Brewing Co., was already using green and gold as a primary color scheme at this time, plus one of their founders was also a W&M alum. Despite our overflowing Tribe Pride, we decided to see what other color combinations attracted the eye and would speak to us as purveyors of The Virginia Beer Company. 

As luck would have it we would end up liaising with another student for this round of creative brainstorming. This time through a personal contact, we were put in touch with an aspiring graphic artist, Sarah Peng, who was enrolled in an art program at Syracuse University and who had her own blossoming graphic design business, Sarah Peng Design (check out Sarah’s other work – good stuff!). Chris and I took the time to organize our ideas on how to develop a logo for our company. We wrote up a new three page document full of content about other designs and brands we enjoyed, with details about what particular details really appealed to us. Colors, Images, Borders, Imagery, Density, Symmetry, Shading, Complexity, Size, Font – these were all categories on which we drafted our thoughts. We included links to images and companies that had at least one aspect of these selections that to us, seemed to pop. 

Working with our first professional designer, we really tried to come over the top with as many concepts as we could muster together in order to paint a picture of how many beer brands there were in the world, and how we wanted to create our own brand within this growing market. Add to this burgeoning list of wants that we also wanted to develop a logo that would help tell our story, and we were really asking a lot for one simple rendering! This brand needed to express why we were calling our brewery The Virginia Beer Company (at this point we still weren’t sure if we’d be going by The Virginia Beer Company vs. Virginia Beer Company vs. Virginia Beer Co.!). Our logo needed to express that we had met at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg. And it needed to express that we would be brewing and selling great craft beer! 

We met with our artist to discuss the design process and then submitted our updated concept ideas, along with the already drafted pages upon pages upon pages of other logos and Virginia based concepts we’d pooled together. Then we awaited our next look at the maturing Virginia Beer Co. brand identity (see below). 

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The first distinct change made in this iteration was the new outline of the logo. We had keyed into this elongated pentagon shape, which in actuality is the outline of the state boat of Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay Deadrise. We found this to be a creative way to incorporate some Virginia symbolism into our brand, especially with a future brewery location not terribly far from the shores of the Chesapeake. The next change was the incorporation of the outline of Virginia itself as a primary image within the logo. We really wanted to impart our name into our brand image and this was our first attempt at doing so. And we wanted to highlight where we were brewing…and that we would brewing! One of the benefits of working with a professional artist was the full spectrum of color combinations we received in her submissions to us. This was the first time anyone had taken a logo idea and offered suggestions for other facets of the brewery operation, such as neck labels and bottle caps and website usage. 

Our work during this time period really helped us to somehow both narrow and expand our vision for Virginia Beer Co. branding all at once. We were so enamored by the images and color combinations that were flowing our way in such professional presentations that our eyes became larger; we requested more variations, without settling on one as a starting point. Chris and I were still in the throes of so many other conceptual aspects of opening a business – raising capital, real estate searches, brewer interviews – that seeing something visual and palpable really made us excited. But that excitement was also our downfall. We had a difficult time settling on one scheme or style, and every time we would make progress narrowing down the field we would get distracted by other facets of the startup. 

Our meeting schedule was chaotic, our focus was everywhere, and our artist was in a different city so we couldn’t always predict when we would be available to discuss our ideas when they were fresh. We were forced, due to the pressures of focusing our attention on more pressing concerns like money and land, to postpone our logo work. Entrepreneurial fate ferried us to other adventures, and our desire to craft a lasting brand image for our fledgling business would have to wait until 2014 to finally evolve into its next form. 

Join us soon for Part 3, the next installment of this gripping graphic imagery series (major motion picture release date pending)!