Triple Bottom Brewing

A new identity & can design system for Philly’s first and only fair chance brewery. Buckle up–it’s a long one.

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When Triple Bottom came to us, they weren’t looking for a rebrand. Their primary ask was for us to redesign their beer can system. They release new brews all the time, and for each one, they commission original artwork from an illustrator or artist. They wanted that artwork to stay a central focus — but they also wanted to elevate the Triple Bottom brand around it.

On their old cans, the art had to do all the work of catching the viewer’s eye, while the brand felt pretty quiet. For this update, they wanted some confidence. Or, as they put it, they wanted to feel “bold and badass.”

Because we’re insane and like to burn money we did end up giving ’em a little brand refresh, WE JUST COULDN’T HELP IT!!!…but more on that later. Because before we can get into our actual work for Triple Bottom, I need to talk about their mission a bit—since our entire can design revolves around it.

It’s All About Perspective

Triple Bottom believes everyone in every community should have the opportunity to craft something great. They’re set up as a fair chance brewery—the only one in Philadelphia.

They go out their way to hire people with a wide variety of life experiences, especially those who are traditionally excluded from the mainstream economy — like people overcoming homelessness or incarceration — providing them with meaningful work and a living wage.

They understand that if you label people based on one attribute or experience (like their address, or lack thereof), you’re not seeing the whole picture. Same goes for the issues. You can’t understand the complexities of homelessness, or the U.S. criminal justice system if you only look through one lens.

We took that idea of perspective and put it on their cans. LITERALLY. **Insert eye roll, because yes, our jokes are worse now that Chara is in charge.** Instead of placing their brewery name clean and simple on the front of the can, we wrapped it around the entire top of the can, making it impossible to read the whole name from any one angle. You have to physically turn the can to read the whole thing.

With this new design, the Triple Bottom cans — like their approach — invite people to look closer, to be interactive, to consider different angles, and to realize that the person sitting across from you at the bar may not have the same point of view as you.

Our approach isn’t jussttt conceptual, it’s also functional. It allowed us to make the Triple Bottom name suuuuuuper big, giving them a confidence that stands out on any shelf.

It also serves as the foundation for a super solid grid, which aligns all the artwork and beer info neatly under TRIPLE BOTTOM.

And under BREWING, folks can find all the information about…you guessed it…the brewery.

We love how tidy it all came out, and how it creates this seamless system, so the Triple Bottom team can update the info and artwork for each new brew, giving each can its own feel, but everything stays neatly in place.

Decisions, descisions—why decide when you can just have everything you want all at once?

The whole “you can’t read our full brewery name from any one angle” concept is definitely cool, but we’ll be honest—it also made the Triple Bottom team just a smidge bit nervous. They are still new to the beer scene, and still earning their street cred. So we also created an alt version of the label that does have their core logo lockup on the front. Less conceptual, but still reallllll pretty.

Canning Day

If you have never been to a brewery on canning day (and before this project, we had not), it is a sight to behold. The sweet smell of beer is in your nose, things are hissing, water is dripping everywhere, the label machine is doing some sort of magic, and cans are being stacked by the pallet-full.

Shoutout to the folks at Iron Heart

Turns out, canning machines are insanely expensive, so small independent breweries like Triple Bottom can zero percent afford to own one (let alone store it because it is also huge). Instead, they rent one for a day, courtesy of the super kind folks at Iron Heart, who basically empower all the magic that is small batch brewing. If you’ve ever enjoyed drinking craft beer out of a can, you probably have these people to thank for helping get the beer in that can.

Unstoppable Rebrand

Like I said earlier, Triple Bottom wasn’t originally reallllyyy in the market for a new brand. They had a ton of heart for their city skyline logo, and they had spent two years building out a beautiful brewery space full of their signature teal colors. And they specifically didn’t want a brand update to make their space feel outdated or off brand.

Cool cool, no prob, we’ll just make some teeeeeeeensy updates, we said.

But of COURSE that was a lie—we rethought everything.

New Type → New Wordmark → Logo Refresh

We knew from the very start of this project that we needed to bring in some new type—something with a bit more oomph to inject more energy and personality into the brand. For this hefty task, we selected Freigeist from René Bieder.

It’s got a great blend of strength and quirk that really felt right, and it was one of the very first things the Triple Bottom team was like ALL IN on. We made these fun little wavy Made in Philly stickers for ‘em and I’ve rarely seen a client send something to print quite that fast.

Cool new logos and wavy Made in Philly stickers

We use the heaviest weight of Freigeist ExtraCondensed for most of the main elements of the label system, and for headlines and whatnot throughout the collateral—basically anywhere we want the brand to speak nice and loudly. (Fun bonus, it’s a huge family, so we can use all kinds of weights and widths to make things feel diverse, yet consistent.)

We paired Freigeist with a typeface called Dwight for body copy. It’s super legible and usable, but still has jussst enough personality to feel unique, and to fit within the same language as those confident headlines.

Freigeist (left) and Dwight (right)

Dwight also kinda adds an important approachability to the whole brand. It just feels unassuming and lovely, which balances out the boldness of Freigeist in a really nice way.

But why stop at a label, when you could also update a wordmark?

We also used Freigeist as the foundation for a new suite of wordmarks. This was early on in the project, when we were still kinda like, Oh yeah we’re not gonna do a fulllll brand refresh, just tighten things up a bit….

But we knew we wanted to give their wordmark more ownability and confidence — so we went all in. Stacked version, wide version, circle version, you name it.

And why stop at a wordmark when you could redraw an entire logo from scratch?

Remember when I said earlier that Triple Bottom loved their city skyline logo and didn’t want us to change it? Well, we tried not to change it. I originally told the team not to change it. But as we worked through new wordmarks—with our stronger bolder type that we knew was going to be a big hit—we realized the skyline drawing wasn’t holding up. So Dayan went in and redrew the whole damn thing.

Triple Bottom logo before (left) and after (right)

From the neighborhood to the city skyline.

The redraw was intended to look very similar to the original—the Philadelphia skyline in the back, the buildings of Spring Garden street in the foreground, and a hop nestled in the center. We wanted a casual beer drinker (or a serious beer drinker, for that matter) to maybe not even notice the difference. But design-wise, there are differences:

  • the hop is now bigger, and it reads more clearly as a hop
  • the hop stem aligns with the skyscraper above it, giving the mark added symmetry and strength
  • the relationships between the buildings and the hop are more consistent and intentional, so the hop fits more seamlessly into the scene
  • the hop sits more centrally within the mark, rather than dipping way below the baseline (which also helps the logo lock up better with the wordmark below it)

Dayan also tightened up the linework throughout so that the mark holds up better at small sizes.

Yer boi Dayan in his shiny new Triple Bottom sweatshirt

Full disclosure, because honesty is the best policy: The Triple Bottom team did have to warm up to the idea of this redrawn logo. We almost backed out. But eventually, after some very careful finessing, they fell in love with it. The moral is, you gotta try, and try again. You gotta listen carefully to the client, then take that feedback and make the work better. It’s not always easy, but it is worth it when you get to wear the softest sweatshirt ever with a logo you truly love on it—feeling good because all the line weights are solid and the type is just right.

Palette Cleanser (aka Color)

The other brand element that the Triple Bottom team didn’t want to lose was their signature teal. So rather than giving them a whole new color palette, we freshened up the one they already had.

Original color palette (top) and new color palette (bottom)

We added some range to their three key teals, pushing one deeper and one lighter, so now the three can be used in all kinds of combos, letting them declare TEAL IS OUR BRAND COLOR in light, dark, and middle tones.

We also made a bunch of other little tweaks. Their two accent reds were also super similar, so we pushed one into a maroon territory and added a bit of orangy fun to the other. We ditched the grays completely. And for good measure, we added a pink.

Business cards in fun colors with fun type. See, business can be fun!

Now, the colors work like MAGIC. They are so much fun. They’re set up for endless iteration, endless combinations, and endless discovery. (See how we pulled in that “keep looking from new angles” brand attribute again? We don’t mess AROUND. Even your colors can deliver on your brand promise, people.)

Built to Be Social

Triple Bottom is so so proud of their relationships with the folks who make the artwork for each new brew. (Really living that mission to empower everyone in every community to craft something great amirite?) They talked to us over and over again about keeping the space for the artwork as big as possible, and finding ways to let that unique artwork shine.

And that was another fun bonus of the grid system we built for the beer can labels (and honestly it helped sell the concept through). Because it gave the Triple Bottom team a suuuuper easy-to-use social template for announcing new beers. You just chop off the BREWING column and you’re good to go. Artwork front-and-center, but all the beer info you need, too. Why make it hard when you can make it easy?

We also put that artwork on coasters and stickers, because when you have a whole library of original artwork, why not use it allllll over the place?

We even invented a hypothetical game where you could put all of the different can art on the bottom of the coasters and BOTTOM’S UP on the tops then lay them all art side down. So if you don’t know what you want you can just pick up any random coaster and whatever art you get is the beer you drink. Casual and fun way to try something new without a ton of effort or thought.®™© Do not steal this idea!!!! This sentence is legally binding and I’ll be super sad if you steal it. So good luck with my eternal sadness on your shoulders for the rest of your life.

See how lovely these artists are? And how happy they are with the beautiful new label system that lets their artwork shine? I mean, this series seriously just says it all.

From City Skyline to Cityscape

In the process of redrawing the logo, we also created this alternate version of the Triple Bottom Skyline logo, expanding it into a fullllllll cityscape of notable buildings in Philly.

We just wanted to really bring their brand to the forefront—showing in gorgeous detail how embedded they are in the Philadelphia community. It’s still rooted in the same idea as the original logo, but makes their building on Spring Garden St. feel really recognizable.

An old photo of what’s now the Triple Bottom brewery building on Spring Garden St., Philadelphia

This hasn’t been made real yet, but we have high hopes for a sweatshirt or tote bag with the full Cityscape on it someday. You know Dayan will be first in line to scoop one up.

Our Dearly Beloved Dead Work

Beer. People. Planet.

At this point in this incredibly long case study, you’re probably thinking….wow, was this project just like, a breeze? Did everything just get approved, no problem, no hassle?

Of course not.

No matter the project, there’s always something that our team absolutely loves, but the client doesn’t go for. That’s the nature of the business.

For this project, there was actually more than one beloved thing that died on the cutting room floor. So we’ll share them all here, because that’s what we do. First up, our little beer-person-planet.

Triple Bottom doesn’t measure their success against a single bottom line, they measure it against three: Beer, People, Planet. So naturally we decided to encapsulate all three ideas into one adorable icon. The team at Triple Bottom found this bud a bit too cute for where they’re headed, but we still have some heart for it.

I mean, who doesn’t want to get a notecard with a beer-drinking little Earth bud on it?

Just a Freaking Gorgeous Hop Wreath

We also presented this hop wreath encircling an illustration of the Triple Bottom building. So fancy, so unexpected, so unlike anything any other brewery is doing.

This little bud didn’t make it out of the concept phase, mostly because Triple Bottom wants to lean into their role within their community, rather than having their building stand alone. But who knows, maybe it’ll find its way onto a holiday card or a limited edition brew someday.

Also, that whole “let’s treat their name conceptually” idea actually started here, with the idea of putting BOTTOM at the bottom of the can, accompanied by three lines to represent their triple bottom line. It was good, but kudos to the Triple Bottom team—because they weren’t satisfied with this, and with their feedback, where we ended up was even better.

Did you like this project? Want to work with us and make some funky stuff together? Let’s goooooooo.

Shoot us an email at → hello@smith-diction.com. We love talking to all kinds of folks. Even if we can’t work with you for some reason, we’ll try to intro you to someone who can! Networking!

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