The Brand New Idea - Branding for Kelham Island Brewery



Sum Studios, Studio 1
1 Hartley Street, Sheffield S2 3AQ
0114 287 0825

Market insight leads to brand repositioning for Sheffield's oldest brewery

Kelham Island · Design, Digital, Brand


If you’re a beer drinker you’ll be more than aware of the growing trend for craft beer in recent years. Whilst this has resulted in the welcomed emergence of a whole host of independent micro breweries and increased consumer demand, the retail environment is a different story, with traditional local pubs closing at a rate of 18 per week in 2013/14. For breweries that have been around for a while and weathered the variety of market storms including the rise of continental bottled lager and town centre bar culture, once again the battle is on to maintain market share and fight off the young pretenders.

Kelham Island Brewery (KIB) had enjoyed the relative security and stability afforded by their unchallenged position as Sheffield’s oldest and only remaining independent brewery, as well as the brewery’s consistently performing Fat Cat pub. However, whilst the brewery was producing at capacity, shifting market conditions and increased competition were inevitably creating a price sensitive wholesale environment and driving prices down.

As with all FMCG offers, brand value creates demand, consumer affinity and in turn, ensures stable, if not higher price points. Whilst the brewery had maintained the high production standards expected of its products, the brand had been left somewhat neglected and unchecked.

Born and ascending during the height of the Real Ale era, the KIB brand was feeling tired, out of kilter with an evolving market and failing to resonate with new consumer groups. Beyond some obvious assumptions that could be drawn from the sector itself, the business had very little understanding of its customers - both stockists and consumers. Understanding the true value of KIB and how it stacked up against the demands of changing consumer expectations would be essential in order to reposition and reinvigorate the brand.


Following a period of in-depth research with both stockists and consumers, competitor analysis and market insight, we began to discover the true value of KIB and understand what the brewery would need to do in order to once again assert itself in the marketplace.

Whilst the quality of beer was inevitably very important to the proposition, our research revealed that there was something more compelling to the KIB brand. For Fat Cat customers, the experience was as equally important as the beer. Tucked away in a relatively quiet corner of Sheffield, unaffected by the changing trends of the high street, KIB had quite naturally established a consistent and valued experience rooted in the authentic cultural attitudes of Sheffield. Almost entirely seated, this welcoming, music free traditional pub serving simple home cooked food and, of course, an extensive and ever changing selection of quality beers, was the perfect place for those wanting to step away from the frantic bar culture of the high street, socialise and drink award winning beer. And here lay the true value of KIB and the unifying thread that connected the product, consumer, retailers and the experience.

From this point on, we were able to develop our brand strategy. A strategy rooted in an authentic experience of Sheffield – a great place, with great people, and of course great beer – a true taste of Sheffield.