Big Grove Brewery: Rebranding
GrahamSpencer’s stylish, award-winning and remarkably successful 2015/16 rebranding of Prairie Street Brewing Co resulted in a late 2016 call from the private equity partner of Iowa City’s Big Grove Brewery, which was expanding.
Big Grove, then located in a small farm in suburban Solon, Iowa, had begun construction of a sprawling new brewery/restaurant in a rapidly developing neighborhood in Iowa City. The private equity partner, all-time leading Hawkeye scorer (football) Nate Kaeding, said the brewery needed a new world-class brand identity to fuel the expansion and help launch the company into commercial distribution.
He said one of his operational partners had come across GrahamSpencer’s work for Prairie Street at a family reunion in Illinois and liked it – but, Big Grove was days away from signing a contract with another design firm. Could we visit with the partners within a week, to discuss the project? If so, they delay the contract signing and give us a chance to provide an estimate. We met with the Big Grove team in Iowa City two days later.
At that meeting, we were impressed by the quality of Big Grove’s lovingly crafted beer, beautifully prepared food and the scale of their expansion into a 28,000 sq. ft. repurposed lumber yard in Iowa City. The new facility allowed for a 10X increase in brewing capacity to 10,000 bbl/yr (310,000 gallons).
BIG GROVE FACTS
We learned the Big Grove team’s ultimate goal was to become a favorite hub of creative, hand-crafted beer, chef-driven food, live music and hometown love in a bubbling part of a dynamic college town. University of Iowa grads all, their civic and state pride was palpable – as was their passion as they discussed their expansion plans. Just as we did with Prairie Street Brewing Co’s rebranding, we began Big Grove Brewery’s project with GSearch, our proprietary branding research, planning and positioning methodology. We learned a lot – and every bit of what we learned was poured into our design solutions.
The Big Grove brand identity features an intricately drawn primary logo – representing a mythical “hop tree” of our own creation and a simpler secondary logo depicting the fruit of that tree, the “hop corn.” The combination of the multi-layered identity system gives the brand maximum flexibility when it is working in large and small formats.
The Big Grove tagline was inspired by the Iowa State motto: our craft we prize and our roots we will maintain.
GrahamSpencer’s work was extended gracefully to applications in building interior and exterior design, web design and development, menus, product packaging, merchandise and more.
“It’s amazing how successful the hop tree logo and hop corn secondary logo have been,” said Matt Swift. “Everything about the identity speaks to the customer and is a true reflection of who we are as beer and food artisans. From menus to t-shirts to glassware to the amazing tap handles GrahamSpencer designed to the Big Grove For Good not-for-profit initiative, our brand has character and clearly defines us as who we are in a way that is unique and has real value. If there is a word I’d use to describe our Big Grove identity, I think it would be ‘timeless.’”
In 2021, Big Grove announced new expansion plans to build in Des Moines, Iowa.
What do I think about our Big Grove brand identity? I think it’s exactly what we wanted and needed. It’s us,” he said. “But we didn’t know how to express ‘us’ ourselves. GrahamSpencer’s GSearch process was impressive. If anything, we almost felt they presented too many good options. The toughest part was deciding on just one direction to commit to.— Matt Swift, co-owner and president of Big Grove Brewery
The GSearch process, and the way it included us all, was a key to the project’s success. It actually helped some of our team members know in advance why we shouldn’t go with our initial thought to sort of ‘out-weird’ other breweries. We were in search of something uniquely ours. GrahamSpencer found that for us – and in the end, everyone on our team knew it when they saw it. That kind of buy-in is critical in these types of projects when the company is like family.