Craft beer and branding
The latest news in the battle of the brews. This time it's not about the beverage — it's a branding debacle.
I am a sucker for industry related news, and when I find something that peaks my interest, I have a tendency to geek out… hard.
Couple that with my love for a good beer (I’m from Asheville, NC, AKA Beer City, USA four years in a row), it came as no surprise just how fascinated I was when I learned Magic Hat (out of South Burlington, VT) is suing West Sixth Brewing Co., a small local brewery in Lexington, Kentucky, over their logo.
I support local businesses whenever I can, and this philosophy always applies to craft beer, so as I read through the story, which I first discovered on Paste Magazine’s Website, my initial allegiance was formed almost immediately with West Sixth. But after one look at the logo, I was Team Magic Hat 100%. My fascination with branding outweighs the beer snob in me for this particular case.
There is no denying that the logo from West Sixth and the logo Magic Hat uses for their popular brew, #9, are similar. The circular shape of the logo as a whole is the same for both designs. The “6” and the “9” are so similar it looks like the number could have been flipped, and the “dingbat” star image is present in both. I may not agree with everything Magic Hat claims, but I do agree with the statement from the first lawsuit filed on May 16th that West Sixth sold beer using color, trademarks and designs “that closely resemble and are confusingly similar to” the designs used by Magic Hat.
After further researching the case, I’m even less impressed with West Sixth’s response to the lawsuit than I am with that unoriginal logo. Everyone on their side is too caught up in talking smack on social media about “the man,” and how big companies are always bullying smaller ones. But maybe Team West Sixth needs to take a step back and see that maybe West Sixth truly is in the wrong here.
Magic Hat responded Monday to this influx of social media activity, filing for a preliminary injunction against West Sixth, saying they have caused Magic Hat “enormous financial damage” with a “social media smear campaign.” I don’t want to see West Sixth go under because of this lawsuit, but I do want to say shame on them for not having enough pride in their brand and product to come up with a logo that would undoubtedly be their own.
At this point, I think West Sixth is doing itself a disservice by not rethinking their branding. They are digging themselves a deeper hole, as evidenced by Magic Hat’s move on Monday, and in the process they are making themselves look bad with their low blows and rude remarks. They can talk badly about Magic Hat all they want, but I would love to see West Sixth’s sales since the news of the lawsuit dropped. Maybe instead of attacking their opponent, they should send a “Thank You” note over to Vermont.
At Mottis, when we go through the process of branding or rebranding for a client, we make sure to do our due diligence to be confident we are delivering something fresh and unique, not something so easily mistaken as someone else’s product.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Let us know what you think in the comments box below.