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Craft Brewers Alliance Rebrands

Publicly traded beer conglomerate Craft Brewers Alliance (CBA) has changed its name to Craft Brew Alliance.

The makeover comes complete with a new web site and an updated logo.

Craft Brew Alliance CEO Terry Michaelson said the switch better reflects how the company sees itself.

“The name is something less formal and a little more of who we are,” Michaelson said.

Andy Thomas, the president of commercial operations for CBA and former Heineken USA president elaborated on the rebrand, saying it had everything to do with the ‘culture’ of CBA.

“The bottle cap and corporate logo was a bit shiny for us and just didn’t fit,” he said. “The new logo is friendlier and more consistent with our brands and with how we brew.”

The new logo uses a different shape than the company’s previous circular design. The letter ‘A,’ while smaller in actual size, is almost raised to a power above the ‘CB’, emphasizing the word alliance. Thomas said the triangular design of the logo is pulled in part from its Redhook and Widmer brands. The CBA also owns Kona Brewing Co.

“Everyone sees something different in it,” he said. “Some people see the peaks from the Redhook brand, or the bottoms of the ‘W’ from the Widmer brand.”

The logo is also intended to seem more ‘weathered,’ something Thomas said expresses the fact that CBA brands have “stood the test of time and have some stories to tell.”

These changes come almost a year after the Widmer and Redhook brands underwent extensive packaging and label changes. Thomas explained that the corporate facelift was enacted with the industry, rather than the end-consumer, in mind.

“CBA means a lot to our employees, our trade partners and our suppliers,” he said. “As we got the brands more true to their history, we felt the consumer was starting to see that and we had to give that same opportunity to our employees.”

That opportunity shows itself in the form of ‘old school’ printing presses, installed at all brewery locations, to allow individual employees to create their own, individual stamp of the logo. Those imprints will be incorporated into every employee’s cards and badges throughout their CBA career.

“It’s almost like a fingerprint,” said Thomas. “Depending upon how hard you press, the print will be different. It says that we are all part of the same family, but a little bit different.”

But what does all this change say about the brands in the CBA portfolio? Thomas said the alliance sees itself as a “sophisticated company with the soul of a craft brewer,’ meaning that it can provide strategic advantages to its business partners that other craft brewers can’t.

“We really bring everything together for our wholesale partners,” said Thomas. “We have seamless distribution, four breweries on both coasts and Hawaii, sales organizations and we make sure with consistency that we are brewing quality beer.”

Those advantages seem to be paying off. CBA hasn’t officially released their 2011 financials but Michaelson said he anticipates sales growth of 11to 12 percent. He also said sales-to-retailer (STR) growth across all brands in 2011 was up around 6 percent over 2010.

So what is the next step for CBA? Michaelson isn’t ruling out the possibility of another acquisition.

“We think the portfolio we have now is a powerful portfolio. It fits a lot of different occasions,” he said. “That said, the consumer is demanding. We are going to look for ways to expand the portfolio and if there is something that makes sense, we will evaluate it. But right now we are looking to grow the brands we have now to the fullest extent.”