Brews, Branding, and Building Community

March 12, 2020

Students in GDes 3353: Packaging and Display partnered with a student group from the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) last fall to create a brand identity for a proposed tap house on the St. Paul campus.

Led by Professor Steven McCarthy, the class was tasked with creating branding, packaging, and environmental graphics for the proposed “U-Betcha” brewery. “We were approached at the beginning of the semester to design materials for beer labels, six-pack boxes, snack food products, and eventually interior graphics for a proposed repurposing of the Ben Pomeroy building,” explained McCarthy. “The goal of the proposal is to create a St. Paul campus social hub that honors the science of brewing, research-based agricultural commodities, and nutrition.” Class presentations were made to CFANS students and faculty, including Dean Brian Buhr.

One task given to the design students was to create an advertisement for the MN Daily newspaper that would introduce the campus community to the concept of a student-run brewery and pub. The requirements for the advertisement mandated that it must feature a studio-quality photograph of their beer bottle, an original brand logo, and clever copy to complement the visual elements. “Our aim was to create an identity that could stand on its own while also having small ties back to the university,” said Erica Sather (Graphic Design). “Instead of focusing exclusively on the classic University of Minnesota maroon and gold, we decided to pair the gold with a charcoal grey for a more modern and edgy look,” she explained.

Students also designed labeling, packaging, and point-of-sale countertop displays for U-Betcha branded snack products, including nuts, chips, jerky, and pretzels. The fully USDA-compliant packaging, complete with a UPC barcode and ingredients list, would be used in the proposed taproom. “We had to think about how our brand would be viewed and interpreted by different audiences: students, faculty, alumni, families, etc.,” said Motasem Kadadah (Graphic Design). “There had to be a balance between creating a serious and legitimate-looking brand and a brand that is inviting and fun.”

The final piece of the project was creating materials for a hypothetical “grand opening” celebration at the Ben Pomeroy building. One part of the class focused on creating an environmental design mock-up using a 12:1 scale, meaning a six-foot-tall individual would be represented as six inches within the model. The mock-up included branded banners, flags, yard signs, posters, and sidewalk decals. The other half of the class created table-tents, placemat designs, and menus all consistent with the U-Betcha story and brand.

The reception to the design students’ work from U Betcha was enthusiastic and the experience was one they won’t soon forget. “This class gave me a great look at what working with clients is really like,” concluded Kadadah.

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