Last month, Brewers Supply Group announced an aggressive rebranding campaign to reflect its diverse service to craft brewers, winemakers, homebrewers and distillers. The company is now simply called BSG, operating under four divisions: CraftBrewing, HandCraft, Winemaking and Distilling. It was the latest step in BSG’s 10 years of growth and expansion.
In the past two years alone, BSG has fully replaced its accounting system, expanded three warehouses, located new malt transloading facilities, acquired the home beer and winemaking division, and brought on additional staff for writing hop contracts and working on export opportunities, just to name a few of its major accomplishments. Craft Brewing Business sat down with BSG President Ian Ward to talk more about what the rebrand means to BSG and its customers.
Craft Brewing Business (CBB): Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Ian. Sounds like a lot of changes happening over at BSG — what is the big rebranding takeaway for your customers? What do you definitely want them to understand from this move?
Ward: The message that we are sending through our rebranding effort is that BSG is a dynamic and multifaceted company, and that we are continually improving and evolving to meet the needs of our broad customer base to stay relevant in the industry. Actually more than just staying relevant, we want to continue to lead the industry in terms of what we offer our customers.
The symbolism of the pyramid logo ties in with the four distinct business divisions that combine to make up the whole of BSG as a company. These four divisions include BSG CraftBrewing, BSG Wine, BSG HandCraft (Homebrew) and BSG Distilling. Because of the brand equity that we had in the iconic green triangle, we chose to build additional dimensionality to represent the other divisions, and we felt that the pyramid design would be a good fit with a clean and modern look. We want to foster the understanding that BSG is a vibrant brand that is in touch with the excitement that is building in the artisanal beverage industry.
CBB: Why was now the time for a BSG rebranding? What were the big motivating factors?
Ward: When BSG was formed, we were supplying breweries only. As our business developed, we now have breweries, wineries, distilleries and homebrew stores in our customer mix. We felt it was time for a change to reflect the new diversity of the business and create an icon around which to build a common company culture.
CBB: Sounds like an exciting challenge. What were the big hurdles that BSG faced in developing the new brand and divisions?
Ward: We wanted to have something that was different enough to be worthwhile, but to maintain some sense of continuity and evolution in the design. We screened hundreds of ideas from external and internal sources. We decided to use color to reflect the different divisions of the organization. We maintained the traditional green from our old logo for the CraftBrewing Division. Red is used for wine, orange for HandCraft and yellow for distilled beverages. I am pleased with the result and even more so that it was designed in house.
CBB: Differentiating the divisions sounds like a key focus point. How much overlap is there in the homebrewing and craft brewing markets? What is the difference between the BSG CraftBrewing and BSG HandCraft?
Ward: Beers, whether produced at home or in a brewery are essentially made of the same ingredients: water, malt, hops, yeast and various adjuncts such as grains, sugars, spices, processing aids, etc. The main difference is the pack size, obviously smaller for homebrewers, and the huge range of products a homebrewer uses. Our goal is to provide the homebrewer with the same quality ingredients that are available to the professional brewer. We are able to supply malt from as little as a quarter pound in a homebrew kit to a railcar.
CBB: Speaking of railcars — a big bullet point on your offering sheet is distribution centers. What does this translate to in terms of delivery and service for a typical customer?“Probably the most important message that we, as suppliers, can send to brewers is that the products they are using are very specific to brewing, and that supply levels are generally in sync with demand. But as the competition for acres from other non-brewing crops increases, it becomes increasingly important for brewers to take a long-term approach to looking at their needs, and making these needs known in the form of supply agreements or contracts.” — Ian Ward, BSG PresidentWard: The United States is, geographically, more a continent than one country, and by utilizing our distribution network in place for the breweries we can respond faster and have shortened delivery time and cost. The big advantage of our own distribution center network is that we only have products associated with brewing on site. So, unlike a public warehouse, we know our products have not been stored next to products that might risk aroma transfer or other contamination.
CBB: In specific craft beer industry terms, how do you feel the rebrand positions BSG CraftBrewing in the market for the long haul?
Ward: In the craft brewing industry, BSG has become the preferred source for diverse ingredients for their beers. We have the best brands in our stable, and we back those up with great customer service. We plan to become the same for the homebrewing and home wine making retailers through BSG Handcraft. In choosing our branding, we wanted to demonstrate that commitment.
CBB: What tips would you offer a craft brewer who is looking for a supplier? What kind of service questions should they be asking of their potential suppliers?
Ward: I would suggest that all brewers question the value proposition when doing business with any particular supplier. One of our goals at BSG is to partner with our customers and deliver the very best products, on time as specified, backed by effective customer service and solid technical support. Ideally, we want the customer to come away with a feeling of satisfaction and an understanding that the price per pound of malt or hops is only one part of the value they get from partnering with a supplier. We want them to understand that a supplier offers value by satisfying all of their needs and expectations.
Suppliers like BSG fulfill their roles by meeting tight delivery deadlines, matching and exceeding quality requirements, providing accurate order picking and offering effective customer support and technical advice. All of these things combine to create the true value of what is being offered. And brewers need to decide if there is value in cheap products that arrive after the time when they were needed.
CBB: As one of the biggest craft beer ingredients suppliers, what do you want craft brewers to understand about the supply industry?
Ward: Probably the most important message that we, as suppliers, can send to brewers is that the products they are using are very specific to brewing, and that supply levels are generally in sync with demand. But as the competition for acres from other non-brewing crops increases, it becomes increasingly important for brewers to take a long-term approach to looking at their needs, and making these needs known in the form of supply agreements or contracts. If the suppliers are aware of the long-term needs of the brewers, it will go a long way toward stabilizing pricing and availability.
It’s certainly an exciting time to be in the industry, and it’s especially gratifying to see the tremendous success that is being achieved by so many of our customers and friends.