If there’s one thing we believe in, it’s that all good things come in irresistibly designed packages.
So when our friends Jason Santamaria and Chris Doyle from Atlanta-based craft brewery Second Self called on us to bring their brand to life, we hopped at the chance.
A no-nonsense, no-compromises small batch brewery born and raised in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood, Second Self is found on shelves throughout Georgia’s most beloved metro and rural restaurants, liquor stores, and growler suppliers.
Insiders know that behind the Second Self brand lies a complex repertoire of beers, perfectly orchestrated to pair between food and libations. The result? Eight varying brews that rise to any occasion. Fresh lemongrass and ginger laced throughout Thai Wheat, for example, offers serious zing to adventurous palates, while roasted chilies, cocoa nibs and cloves lend a brooding, sensual effect to the Mole Porter.
Through Adrenaline’s Senior Designer Tex Grubbs, we had formed a close relationship with Jason and Chris for several years, following their success from grassroots to hometown glory. But as the beer brand grew in demand, so did demand for a brand identity that beer connoisseurs could fall in love with.
An incredible opportunity to work and play in our own backyard, Adrenaline joined forces with the team at Second Self in January of 2014 to produce a full brand identity, from overall aesthetic to package design, online presence to digital marketing strategy.
I went into working with Adrenaline not knowing what to expect. I had worked on this brand in my head for two years, including everything from the logo, to colors, to the thoughts and ideas on branding each beer, and the marketing around it. When we started, I laid out the concept of Second Self: That we each have a Second Self, as does our beer. That what we are making is both complex, yet simple.
We began our research by exploring the meaning behind the brand name, Second Self, and the concept of duality that rises to the surface in each sip. We found that Second Self’s core customer persona was one that could slip into a suit by day, and slip back out into something more casual by night; someone who worked in the fast lane between 9-to-5, but could also treasure a simple evening with friends under the stars.
We asked ourselves, what does it mean to “sip into your second self”, and how could we translate the brand’s offbeat, yin-yang personality into bold packaging that owned retail shelf space?
Our design team visited liquor stores to get a sense of the competitive landscape. In our travels, we found two sides of the craft beer pendulum: packaging that’s often cluttered and overly illustrated, and packaging that’s highly traditional, featuring a crest or old-school throwback.
My favorite thing about working with Adrenaline was seeing fresh new takes on the design that really opened my mind to what Second Self could become.
We also considered the story the packaging, and what it would communicate to Second Self’s audiences, from curious craft beer fan, to marketing-motivated regional distributors. What did craft beer fans want to be seen with, and what did distributors want to be seen?
These questions drove our design thinking, and led to a powerful translation of the brand from the inside out.
There were several things I loved in other beer brands, but more things I disliked, and I wanted to create a brand that really stood out, did everything right, and fit our product. I had narrowed my vision of the brand since it was all in my head. My favorite thing about working with Adrenaline was seeing fresh new takes on the design that really opened my mind to what Second Self could become.
The result was an unmistakable portfolio of eight different beer labels that played on the concept of duality, complementary personalities, and culinary pairings. Through experimentation and creative license, we mixed fearlessly bold color palettes with complementary neutrals, merging the high life with Georgia’s down-home flavor found inside each Second Self batch.
We also played on the personalities of each beer’s layered flavor notes. For example, a red fox sets the tone for playful Red Hop Rye, a crisp green dragonfly enhances the all-American inspired Saison, and a Mexican sugar skull accompanies the spicy Mole Porter. A hybrid between bursts of flavor and finishing notes, each package exists to translate each beer’s first (and last) notes.
We found that translating Second Self’s story from product to packaging — in a way that’s simple enough to stand out on the shelves — presented the ultimate challenge.- Tex Grubbs, Senior Designer, Adrenaline
“We found that translating Second Self’s story from product to packaging — in a way that’s simple enough to stand out on the shelves — presented the ultimate challenge,” said Senior Designer Tex Grubbs. “Whittling the range of colorful design options down to find the ‘right’ fit also required us to keep it simple and stay focused on the consumers and distributors we were designing for along the way.”
Adrenaline’s design team also consulted with Second Self on a number of experiential challenges. During our first tour, we saw that the space was highly industrial, little more than a cement room that called for a few personal touches.
I think that we have created something that has never been seen before.- Jason Santamaria, Beer Architect and Owner of Second Self Beer
Working in tandem with Adrenaline’s package designers and experiential designers, we created several innovative ideas and workarounds that the Second Self team could build upon, allowing them to bootstrap an unforgettable, authentic experience.
“Swag shelving”, 3D layouts, seating recommendations, custom projection, and lighting recommendations were presented to Second Self, taking into account native aspects that came with the space, such as old bourbon barrels, a custom-built bar, and brewing equipment.
Each designer took some of my thoughts and ideas and brought them to the a new level all together. From there, being able to pick elements of one approach and merging them with another, I think that we have created something that has never been seen before.
This Spring 2015, Second Self welcomes its first batch of canned beers, translating its beloved bottle design into cans that are perfect for casual craft beer occasions.
To this day, we get almost as many compliments on our branding and design as we do the beer.- Jason Santamaria, Beer Architect and Owner of Second Self Beer
What began with an idea for a brand blossomed into a fully built-out brand identity across multiple touchpoints, from package design to visual storytelling, and later a responsive website and digital marketing.
The attention to detail was amazing, and very impressive throughout the whole processes. Adrenaline really made me feel part of the processes, using my input to push the brand toward what it is today. To this day, we get almost as many compliments on our branding and design as we do the beer, and that might be what I like about working with Adrenaline most of all!
Through our friendship with its co-founders, we were given the freedom to do what we do best: design from a blank canvas to create experiences that fans can fall in love with every time they pick up a bottle of Second Self.