The Makeover Challenge, sponsored by Sun Chemical and co-sponsored by Caps57, returns for its 14th year. The blue-sky contest that re-imagines a real-world brand is one of our community’s most beloved editorial projects, and it was something that we could not leave behind in our evolution to Brand Experience magazine.
We’re proud to be working with longtime reader Ellie Thomas of Huber Winery for this year’s contest. Thomas worked with three competing design teams—Bear Rabbit Design Studios, COHO Creative and BrandDirections—on blue-sky, package design concepts for Huber’s spirits line and sub-brand Starlight Distillery.
This isn’t the first time that Thomas has applied to be part of the competition. The premise of a blue-sky contest that celebrates the power of design attracted her because “design is really important.” She adds, “As a graphic designer, I look at everything every day of my life. I pick apart every product that I buy. If I go out and have a beer, I look at the bottle.
“This is a good opportunity to see something that I’ve made be made over,” Thomas adds, noting that she was excited to show others in the company, what’s possible with more resources, both time and people, when developing new brands and creating new designs.
Thomas reports to Dana Huber, vice president of marketing and public relations at Huber’s, who ultimately owns marketing responsibility for everything from the distillery to the winery to the farms and from the orchards to the retail stores. “In my role working with our off-site distribution efforts, I am always challenged to keep our packaging innovative, relevant, but at the same time balancing the wants and needs of our growing family business,” Dana Huber remarks. “Participating in the Makeover Challenge couldn’t have been offered at a better time for our Starlight Distillery brand.”
Thomas agrees, noting that the spirits part of the business is growing rapidly but is also fairly new, unlike the fruit wine business. That’s not to say that the business is nascent. Starlight Distillery was founded more than a decade and a half ago, but that’s young compared to the rest of the business. Huber Winery is a seventh-generation family-owned, farmer-first business that traces its roots back to Simon Huber who started growing fruit in Southern Indiana in 1843.
The Starlight brand is also receiving a lot of attention, right now, through awards won and earned media. For example, its Apple Brandy won a best in class award from The American Craft Spirits Association in the Brandy category.
Thomas and the Hubers originally participated in the contest as an academic exercise, and continue to bring attention to the growing spirits brand. Growing through this conceptualization process with the three teams has them reconsidering the potential branding benefits possible through an investment in design.
Thomas shares, “Participating in the Makeover Challenge opened up the minds of everyone here that maybe we do need help and maybe we may have found a place that knows us and I think understands us and would be willing to kind of help.” Ted Huber, master distiller of the Starlight Distillery and president of Huber Winery, adds, “I have to admit, my first thought was, ‘do we really need a brand re-do?’ but I was super impressed by the manner in which these designers took us out of our element with their packaging recommendations. Now I am seriously considering these other possibilities. ”
Brand Experience magazine is so glad and grateful to Thomas and all of our readers for their continued, active participation in our editorial projects. We are also excited by the possibility that our blue-sky contest might have already positively impacted how Huber’s approaches its brands, and are eager to share the concepts and strategies from this year’s three very talented competitors.