Pints and Pixels
Utah is known for many things: gorgeous national parks, one-of-a-kind skiing, salt flats and saltier lakes. Beer? Not so much. Understandable, seeing as draft beer is capped at a literal buzz-killing 4.0% ABV. But if you dig past the stereotypes and easy jokes at the Beehive State’s expense, you’ll find craft brewers cooking up some seriously exciting beers. The largest (and in our humble opinion, best) of these is Uinta Brewing. Founded in 1993, the brewery’s creator set out to make the best beer in one of the most unexpected of places.
A staple in the Salt Lake City area, Uinta has been treating their approach to the craft of craft beer differently, with a sense of adventure normally reserved for the type of people who climb the Seven Summits without supplemental oxygen. Uinta beers are dreamt up for adventure seekers by adventure seekers, and — building on the founder’s love of the outdoors — are brewed to go well with anywhere. This passion for making the beer a part of the journey rather than a destination in and of itself is what drew Struck into this partnership (that and the chance to geek out over barrel-aged sours with kindred spirits).
Uinta has recently evolved their brand to speak to drinkers with more adventurous attitudes (and palettes), so we set to work translating that evolution into the digital space via a website redesign — emphasizing Uinta’s tie to Utah, adventurers and great craft beer.
At the heart of the entire project was the “Get Thirsty” philosophy. A philosophy that made people stop and say “damn, I could go for one of those,” no matter where they were when they accessed the site. This strategy was a phrase we constantly held our ideas, designs and copy up against, asking “does this make you thirsty?” And not just thirsty for beer, but for brew information, events and adventure in general.
With bright, colorful designs set apart by clean, approachable illustrations, Uinta has done a damn good job of standing out on store shelves. So our #1 priority was to adapt and evolve the already attention-grabbing nature of Uinta’s brand, making it just as reachable on a phone in the store or on a computer screen miles away from any tap handle. Purchasing beer is typically an impulse decision — we wanted beer drinkers to not just consider Uinta against the competition, but instead seek it out.
Visually, the “Get Thirsty” design philosophy manifested itself in how we treated the product. We knew it wasn’t enough to not simply show the labels of the different beers, but to show off each beer in each delivery vessel (can, bottle and bomber) to show that no matter what beer you’re craving, you can bring it with you anywhere.
In that same vein, incorporating more lifestyle-focused imagery was a must-have to bring the beer out of the package and into cold glasses and chilling in even colder mountain streams. We wanted to show off the color, the bubbles, the perfect head of foam that evokes a perfect summer evening on a bar patio or hiking trail.
Adopting a Beer Drinker’s Mentality
Users visit a brewery website to find what’s new, what’s different and what’s nearby. So we set out building an approachable site to drive users — from the merely “Craft Curious” to the more adventurous “Sour Seekers” — to those destinations and balance the information to keep from alienating either audience. Too much info would overwhelm a former macro lager-drinker looking to try their first IPA and too little info would diminish the serious expertise the brewers at Uinta bring to the table.
As we worked our way through the design process, we kept in mind the end user, and the reason they would be visiting the site and what about our site could be different and important to new craft beer drinkers. Through our research we discovered two trends that helped guide our designs: 1) Millennials are twice as likely to purchase craft beer based on label/packaging design and 2) they are also more likely to use their smartphones in-store when making a purchase decision.
While Uinta had already taken care of the first point, the challenge was bridging the gap to the second point to create a holistic brand experience. The site (especially on mobile) needed to (obviously) continue the brand story, but also offer up the information people were searching for while standing at the shelf making a purchase decision. Beer is easy to identify and select, even on mobile. The beer detail pages are designed to not just list ABV, SRM and IBUs, but to add context through animated icons and photography, making the science behind the beer all the more delicious.
From the Brewer’s Hand to Your Glass
One of our favorite things to do whenever we visit a brewery is ask the brewmaster what they’ve got fermenting in the back. One thing we’ve learned from this line of questioning is that brewers love to talk about their passion. We knew it was important to give the brewers and other team members at Uinta a voice on the website to share, tease and geek out over what’s coming down the bottling line. And this functionality had to be easily manageable by anyone at the brewery, allowing them to share and be heard without wrangling cumbersome CMS sheets. Authenticity is key and the quicker they could share their ideas, experiments and passions online, the more natural it would feel.
Likewise, Uinta Brewing was built around a sense of a community, and as active supporters of local causes it was important to give friends and partners of the brewery a space to help tell the shared story of like-minded adventurers. Like some of our favorite outdoor-focused apparel and gear brands, Uinta partners with influencers living a life full of exploration to bring their credo of “an accomplice in your adventures” to life. Similarly, Uinta also partners with other well-established Utah brands and causes through their 801 Community, which gave us the opportunity to strengthen the pride the brewery has in making the Beehive State their home.
Take a Sip
All in all, the final site (check it out!) is a siren song for old, new and soon-to-be craft beer lovers. And like the most memorable adventures, it was a journey taken together by friends and colleagues on both sides of the conference line, video chat and Slack threads, working towards a common goal.
Take a sip and join us in raising a glass to the next adventure. Cheers!
Project credits: Abe Levin (Design Director & Creative Lead), Kylie Kullack (Account Director), Robyn Reynolds (Producer), Jordan Manke (Junior Designer), Joanna Papaleo (Interactive Designer), Sarah Higgins (UX Design), Cody Simmonds (Strategist) and Ryan Coons (Copywriter)
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