Mike Geller was living in Massachusetts, sharing his love of New England craft beers with his brother, Jon – even dabbling with brewing their own. So when their father alerted them to a brewery — Three 3’s — for sale just outside of downtown Hammonton, N.J., a road trip was in order. They visited, fell in love with the beer, and brought the idea back to their mom. That’s how a family craft brewery business became a reality.
Purchasing the business in 2017, they inherited a name/logo that didn’t represent their vision for the brand which led to very inconsistent art styles across its packaging. The name was derived from the brewery’s original street address, 333 N. Washington Street. That’s where the struggle to develop a cohesive image began.
To grow and build brand awareness, they set out to unify the brand and develop standards and colors for the packaging and merchandising.
‘How do you want to be viewed?’
Wanting to work with a local brand design firm, they tapped Xhilarate, the Philadelphia-based brand and design agency, to help with the rebrand and positioning.
“They really made us think about who we are and how we want to be viewed by our customers, distributors and accounts that carry our product,” says Mike Geller, Partner, Three 3’s. “We are obsessed with creating consistent, high-quality and adventurous beers and when you step into our taproom, it’s an extension of our own home. We needed our branding to reflect that.”
Once the decision was made to retire the original logo (hand with 3 fingers), the Xhilarate design team went to work on one that would communicate the fun, bold, and family-crafted identity, differentiating it from other craft beers.
The new logo (bottom)
The new primary logo features three number 3’s surrounded by an interlocking wave graphic with the Three 3’s name underneath. On the cans, the logo is positioned next to the Three 3’s name, providing a banner that boldly stretches across packaging and all other materials. The logo colors, shades of blue, red, and yellow, are derived from nature to work in harmony with the design system, offering flexibility across merchandise, on displays, and packaging.
In addition to the tasting room serving core and seasonal offerings, the beers are distributed on tap and in cans at retailers and restaurants throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Since taking over the brewery, the Gellers have released 217 different beers (and counting).
Two core offerings are available year-round (Back to Reality IPA and Pitter Patter Pilsner) as well as 2 seasonal hoppy offerings (Solstice and a second fall/winter offering yet to be announced), a summer seasonal, Blue Devil Saison, and a yearly German Festbier, Bierstiefel. A variety of one-off beers are released throughout the year.
“Our distinct taste for subtle twists on classic styles presents new ways of experiencing familiar styles of beer,” says Mike Geller. Naming for the beer varieties is done with the help of the entire team with pop culture often exerting a strong influence.
“It was imperative for us to create designs with artwork that reflects the originality and adventurous nature,” notes Michael McDonald, Partner, Xhilarate.
Enhancing with AI
McDonald notes that they are always looking for ways to push the creative envelope to provide enhanced ideas, which is why they are an early adopter of using AI in design.
“We developed illustrations with Midjourney, an AI-technology design tool. It really brought our artistic vision to life,” he says.
For example, the Back to Reality package pays homage to the Back to the Future car and its futuristic theme, while Pitter Patter sets the scene with a dramatic illustration of a dog standing guard in front of a house.
“The cohesive and consistent look/feel of the brand translates incredibly well from packaging to merchandise to our new taproom,” notes Geller. “The immediate reaction was very positive and we’ve received tons of encouraging feedback from customers, liquor store managers, distribution partners and fellow breweries.”