Budweiser recently embarked on a costly and comprehensive overhaul of its branding - changing everything from packaging to a refreshed typography and logo.
The pack redesign has been three years in the making.
Interestingly, the redesign marks the first time the brand has used the same packaging in all markets. A move resembling fellow mega brand Coca-Cola and it’s much covered new one-brand strategy. (Back to brand basics is really in fashion right now).
This particular re-brand encompasses a return to an established brand philosophy and message too. While not immediately obvious, Budweiser has long positioned itself by preaching a careful consideration of the beer. This is evident in their brand mantra: "Brewed the Hard Way” – something the previous packaging didn't reflect.
There is a real sense of a brand trying to get back to first principles and to the source of its authority.
In 'How Brands Become Icons', Doug Holt describes another time when Budweiser had a real source of authority - by which we mean an embedded sense of cultural currency and deep relevance to its drinkers.
When Budweiser became an iconic brand it positioned itself as the beer of choice for proud American men who needed patriotic reassurance in a time of political and military unrest. The slogan 'King of Beers' intended to symbolise a return to American greatness.
But overtime, as brands (and countries) do, Budweiser lost sight of it’s greatness. This has accelerated in more recent times, where craft beer has become au courant and seminal in it’s own right. Craft has introduced a plethora of new brands and styles, and Budweiser, in this redesign, pulls a few traditional brand levers too to show America what it has been missing out on – the original American lager.
Budweiser has boldly claimed it “wasn’t made to be fussed over”. In other words, it is - as it always was -brewed for drinking. A simple message that speaks directly to hardworking Middle America.
The crafties can have their fussy stuff but we are for real drinking.
Perhaps in the age of Trump, Budweiser once again has a higher calling in response to a deep cultural tension in its homeland. Perhaps too much choice has created a cultural orthodoxy – hipster, urbane and hyper liberal - that amounts to an unsubstantiated or unwarranted snobbery?
Like many iconic brands, Budweiser has seen trends come and go. And if/when craft gets all a bit too complicated for us, Budweiser is saying it will still be there. Making beer like they always did. With careful consideration.