Unless you were living under a rock this past weekend, you undoubtedly heard about the “hatching” that took place at Marble Brewery on Friday. Yes, one of Albuquerque’s most iconic breweries has completely re-branded itself. And when I say completely I do mean completely. The shift in brand recognition is so divergent that my first thoughts were, “Did Marble get sued for trademark infringement and had no choice but to abandon the marble theme?” While that theory seems unlikely, the surprising change does lend itself to the question of why. Why would such a recognizable and successful brewery feel the need to reinvent itself at this stage in its journey?
Here is the official statement from Marble: “We love Albuquerque: the bright blue skies, the colorful, energetic, funky people, places, art, landscapes and food that burst from our vibrant city. We wanted an image that exuded our passion for craft beer and our commitment to brewing boldly, punctiliously and always with a knowledge of the past and an eye to the future. The maverick, our new visual identity, perfectly represents the Marble brand that you know so well: bold, adventurous, funky and rooted in our local community.”
That’s a fun explanation, but it comes off somewhat manufactured, like something a PR firm would say. I wanted a more candid explanation. I didn’t want to know where Marble was going as much as I wanted to know why they were going there.
I made it a priority to show up to Marble just as the doors opened for business on Friday, increasing the likelihood that I would see Marble head brewer Ted Rice hanging around. Immediately, I was a little puzzled. The staff was as unfamiliar as the colorful attire they wore. For a brief second I couldn’t help but think I was in the Bizarro World version of Marble Pub. Then I caught my first view of the new logo. NM Dark Side Brew Crew Editor Chris “Stoutmeister” Jackson summed it up best when he simply replied, “Wow, that’s different,” to a picture of the logo I had just texted him. It was different to say the least. I ordered a pint of the India Pale Lager on cask, took one smooth sip, and proclaimed, “Yes! The beer is still great!” Crisis averted.
As I sat at the bar enjoying my beer and and keeping an eye out for Ted, I found this to be the perfect time to observe the reactions of patrons to the newly born transformation. Interestingly enough, the first few people didn’t really notice or did notice and just didn’t have much of a reaction. Then a gentleman came in to pick up a half keg and promptly noticed the new logo. “What the hell is that? A new logo?” he asked the bartender. “Yes,” the bartender replied. “Man, I just bought two of the Marble tap handles for my home bar. What’s going to happen to the old merchandise?” the customer added. “I guess it’s vintage now,” the bartender replied with a grin.
In one fell swoop Marble not only unveiled a new identity, but simultaneously created a market for vintage Marble Brewery merchandise. Keep those old Marble products folks, they could be worth something someday!
By far the best reaction came from the head brewer of another popular Albuquerque brewery, “I like it. Seriously, I do. If you’re trying to get me to talk shit about it I won’t. That’s all I’m gonna say.” (If you know who I’m talking about then you could totally see him saying that.) Another good reaction came from a former Marble employee. “Is that the new logo? Really? I don’t get it. I can’t imagine Ted is very happy about this,” he said.
The latter reaction aside, it’s not too surprising that most of the reactions that I came across that day were positive and supportive. After all, Albuquerque is an extremely loyal community that excels at supporting local businesses and who is becoming increasingly receptive to change. Even the people who questioned the move made it clear that as long as the quality of the beer remains then the label means little.
I never did get to speak to Ted in person that day and to be honest I’m kind of glad I didn’t. I think we are all better off not knowing the truth. As anybody who has ever been part of a breakup knows, the truth can only hurt. As long as Marble keeps creating award-winning, innovative, delicious beers then I’ll roll right along with them in any direction they choose.