It’s been a big 12 months for Sunshine Brewing. In early 2018, the Gisborne brewery decided it was time to take things up a notch – positioning itself to better meet the increasingly competitive beer market and preparing to celebrate its 30th anniversary later this year. That saw it invest in new equipment and a major brand refresh that reflects its unique position on the East Coast and in New Zealand’s craft brewing history.
The installation and commissioning of a new brewhouse from American Brewing Equipment took place in March this year. The brewery says it’s the first ABE brewhouse to be installed in New Zealand and is a fully automated, 25bbl system that gives increased production volume, better efficiency and increased quality. General Manager Joe Williams (a Gisborne local who returned to his hometown from Melbourne two years ago) says it’s the ideal set-up to move Sunshine forward. “It pretty much doubles our production in terms of volume. It’s definitely going to help us to get where we need to be.”
Sunshine Brewery has also taken on a new Brewery Manager in Dave Huff, previously of Hallertau. “Dave’s experience has been well and truly proven with increased quality and consistency of our core range beers, as well as the development of a really impressive seasonal program,” says Williams. “His experience across the entire production – from controlling ingredients coming in to product going out the door is phenomenal.”
One of the biggest undertakings was a redesign of the Sunshine brand – a year-long project, but one made easier by the fact it was done by another local, Reuben Woods, who had grown up in the Wainui Beach area. Woods approached Joe Williams over a beer in the Sunshine taproom.
“His timing was spot on,” says Williams. “What started as a small rethink of our labels quickly led to an overhaul of our entire image. He and his team at Woods Agency spent a lot of time breaking down who we are and what we do. They created a brand story that encompasses our people, our product, our history, our location. The history part was really important for us to retain, as we are now the oldest, continually operating independent brewery in New Zealand.”
He says Woods’ personal knowledge and experience of the brand was crucial. “I don’t think it could have happened with someone who didn’t have that background.”
The result is a new Sunshine Brewing logo that references the sun and the brewery’s East Coast location – with an arrow pointing east, where Sunshine is the first brewery to see the sun each day.
The design of the core range labels was also influenced by Gisborne’s strong surfing culture. The hand-crafted nature of the beers is tied to the creation of a surfboard, with the font for the names echoing that used when shapers write along the stringer of a finished board.
The labels’ colours and patterns reference the technique of ‘resin tinting’ – when paint is mixed into the resin used to finish a board. Tasting notes on the label also speak to the flavour and mood of each beer.
While the core range has a fresh, modern look, the decision was made to reinvigorate the original Gisborne Gold label for the heritage line-up. Gisborne Gold is the oldest independently-made craft lager in New Zealand. “We feel
this has been a great move and we’ve already had really positive feedback,” says Williams. “The timing was also perfect as we approach the 30th anniversary of the brewery and of Gisborne Gold.”
The new branding is in distribution now and Joe Williams says it encapsulates the Sunshine Brewing ethos and history perfectly. “A lot of thought has gone into the brand refresh, it has amazing impact on shelf and we’re really excited about bringing it to market.”
Sunshine Brewing is distributed by Vintners.
To read a full case study on the rebrand
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