Pack of the Month: Thesis Beer Project Offers A Helping Hand

by Bill McCool on 03/31/2020 | 5 Minute Read

If there’s one brewery we’re looking forward to visiting when all of this Coronavirus craziness is over, it’s Thesis Beer Project.

Launching in Rochester, Minnesota last year, this craft brewery landed on the scene with a design-assist from the Minneapolis-based branding agency Buddy-Buddy. Their type-starring cans and gorgeously illustrated growlers not only have us missing the delicacy of just being able to go out and simply have a beer but now we want to book a trip to Minnesota to take in the murals designed especially for the brewery.

Editorial photograph

We spoke with Buddy-Buddy managing director Andy Kaul to learn more about the beer we can‘t wait to stock in our fridge.

(Incidentally, while Thesis has closed their doors to patrons because of COVID-19, they are taking curbside to-go orders which you can do here.)

Editorial photograph

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

We were approached by Thesis’s founders nearly two years before the doors of the brewery would open. The wife-and-husband founding team had such a fantastic and meaningful vision for their business—a place of inclusivity, of genuine community engagement and impact, of generosity, and really delicious beer. This vision served as the brief for the design process, pushing our creativity and imagination in ways that a strictly business-focused brief simply isn’t capable of. 

Editorial photograph

What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Thesis packaging and branding, and how did you accomplish it? 

More than anything, we wanted our work to live up to the founders’ imaginative and optimistic dreams for their brewery. We wanted to infuse all our designs with this sense of optimism and inclusivity. 

Having a client with not only this kind of creative vision but also the level of trust they placed in our work is so rare. We never felt as if our work was getting reigned in or diluted in any way. Rather, we experienced quite the opposite throughout our 3-plus years of working with Allyson, Adam, and the team at Thesis. They gave us the time, the resources, and the trust to interpret their vision, and they also invested in producing the work to a level we all felt good about. 

This is a long-winded answer, but the biggest goal we accomplished wasn’t necessarily the work or the production of our creative deliverables. Rather, it was giving their team the tools they needed to bring their wildest dreams for Thesis to life. Since opening their doors in 2019, the brewery has received overwhelmingly positive feedback, and the business is achieving Allyson and Adam’s original goal—to build a gathering place for the community that catalyzes real and impactful change. 

Editorial photograph

What is the "social good cause" Thesis works toward? Was that something you incorporated into the brand's identity?

Thesis is based in Rochester, Minnesota, home of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. The city’s collective identity gets defined by the city’s legacy of service, care, and charity. From day one of the business, Thesis has implemented initiatives to support local non-profit organizations, artists, and community development partnerships. Every quarter, they partner with a different local charity to make collaboration beers that will raise funds for their respective causes. We thought we could represent this idea of service through a hand offering up a glass, which is a consistent design element throughout the identity system.

Editorial photograph

There's a lot of different components to the work you did for Thesis - illustrations for growlers, gigantic murals for the brewery, and various types of labels and artwork for limited-beer releases, among others. Even though there's a lot of variety to the work, how did you harmonize all of that? Also, why the emphasis on illustration?

Our design solution skewed towards personality and diversity, away from a rigid design system made up of strict application guidelines. This resulted in a final visual identity made up of colorful palettes, a range of brand identities, and a diverse illustration library. This way, the applied design feels charismatic and varied. Stylistically, all these elements still feel like they come from one place, and we were able to incorporate repeating elements-hands, glasses, and asterisks to keep some consistency.

This isn’t an approach we often take on branding projects, but the team at Thesis placed their trust in our experience, which in turn gave us the freedom to consider an unorthodox design solution.

The emphasis on illustration was a solution for the client’s request to make community and diversity a foundational for their brand. We were able to showcase these values more dynamically and cost-effectively than, say, photo or video might be able to. 

What type did you use for the cans (and the overall visual identity in general), and why?

We used Neue Droschke from The Designers Foundry on the project, which we felt had a nice sense of distinction and personality within the broader brand design language we were developing for Thesis. This typeface also provided a sense of differentiation within the craft beer category.

Editorial photograph

If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

We are particularly fond of the interior murals and graphics. The opportunity to create such large-scale artwork was one we simply couldn’t pass up, and we were fortunate to work with a fantastic muralist, Kelly Fee, to bring the designs to life. The ability to showcase such a vibrant illustration on the exterior and interior not only gives life and energy to the whole brewery, but it also provides a wealth of assets to be applied to future products.

Editorial photograph

Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

One lesson we learned is how important it is to build client relationships developed on a mutual sense of trust. Thesis trusted our team to imagine an unorthodox design language for their business that not only pushed the boundaries for the local beer community but, more importantly, aligned with their vision and mission. Every time we can work alongside entrepreneurs throughout the “starting-up” process is a massive learning experience for our firm, providing insights and invaluable perspective for similar partnerships down the road.

You may also like