Cameron’s Brewing

How a struggling craft beer brand turned around

When Cameron’s Brewing first launched in 1997 there were only a handful of craft breweries operating in Ontario. Independent breweries like it were more often called microbreweries than craft breweries. The industry was small and many independent brands modelled their branding after that of the beer giants.

That aspirational branding worked when craft brewing was a niche market that aspired to big brand reputation, but in the past 10 years the craft beer industry has exploded. With it came a unique identity that aims to distinguish itself from the big brews, not mimic them. The number of licensed breweries in Canada has risen from 290 in 2009 to 520 in 2014 (according to Beer Canada), and that growth has largely been driven by it’s smallest producers.

The Challenge

A tired brand, weak shelf presence and declining sales

Cameron’s packaging had not changed significantly from the design of the first bottles that rolled out in the nineties and sales had not kept pace in recent years, consistently slipping. Despite the healthy expansion of the craft category, the brewery – which sells in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, parts of the United States and Europe – was growing by only a single-digit percentage.

Meanwhile, across Ontario the craft beer market was exploding and become much more competitive. In the past 5 years the number of Ontario breweries has more then tripled, going from approximately 30 to over 100. Bill Coleman, President and co-owner of Cameron’s Brewing knew that something had to change and he approached CACTUS to discuss a new brand strategy.

The Solution

A modern brand refresh that didn’t lose sight of the brewery’s heritage

As a established craft brewery that had been pushed to the back of an increasingly crowded marketplace, the potential to lose existing brand loyalists was a real concern. Communicating to consumers that Cameron’s had evolved but still maintain aspects of it’s original brand was crucial, differentiation and the need to stand out on the shelf was paramount. In essence the new brand needed to say ‘New look. Same great quality and taste.’

Cactus focused on two approaches, first being the Cameron’s ‘Barley Man’ was updated to maintain it’s heritage quality but bring it into context with more modern craftsmanship. Secondly, the move from bottles to cans provided the opportunity for more visual real estate. We developed a visual strategy that told stories about the different beer styles, touching on the brewery’s geographic history to drive emotional engagement and enhance brand recognition. The visually bold, fun, confident cans offer an identifiable, unified brand that drive recognition, differentiates from the competition and creates a sustained conversation with customers.

The Design

Authentic brand storytelling shines through and connects with consumers

The new brand packaging references the simple, graphic design style reminiscent of childhood scout and camp badges. Bright colours identify each beer style, the iconography and stories highlight the unique products and reinforce overall brand recognition. The iconic and simplistic approach went against a current trend of highly stylized art and created stark differentiation on the shelf. To add personality, we worked closely with the client on beer-naming that enhanced the storytelling while remaining unique, fun and approachable.

The design strategy is intentionally very modular and thought was given early in the process to it’s applications in apparel, advertising, digital and social media. Momentum really started to build as the Cameron’s staff were engaged in the process, providing key insights and reflecting excitement for the re-energized brand. It was fantastic to see how proud they were of their beer and we knew then that the bine the brewery’s long standing heritage with the updated brand was a success.

The Results

The results are impressive, consumers engaged with the brand immediately and sales tripled

Cameron’s Brewing achieved significant sales growth and the rebrand has ignited new interest in their beer. LCBO sales increased 180% month-over-month immediately following the launch of the new cans, and expanded serving with new bar and restaurant accounts. Overall, launch feedback has been overwhelming positive, including features on a number of respected craft brewery news blogs, Strategy Magazine and The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business. The Cameron’s story provides insight into a business that has successfully relaunched its brand with a focus on change, while staying true to its identity.
  • 7kNew followers on all their social media.
  • 180%Increase in total sales since the re-launch.
  • 120New locations now offer Cameron’s.

CACTUS went above and beyond our expectations with the Cameron’s Brewing rebrand. They’re knowledge of the craft was truly inspiring.

Bill Coleman, President & Co-Owner - Cameron’s Brewing Company