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Does what you see determine what you drink?

A conversation with branding designer Isaac Arthur


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  • IN Beer Brigade
Branding IN Beer Brigade is CODO Design’s newest Indiana craft brewing related initiative.

“We’re excited to watch the Brewers of Indiana Guild debut the IN Beer Brigade, a one-of-a-kind enthusiast program that allows Indiana beer fans to support local breweries and in the process gain access to extremely limited in-state, collaboratively brewed beers,” commented Isaac Arthur, CODO designer and partner, about CODO’s part in the newly launched BIG initiative.

“To start, we helped Rob [Caputo] and Tristan [Schmid] name the program. After that, we designed the main brand identity. We’ll soon be discussing the debut packaging in conjunction with the Guild and Three Floyds.”

The “join up” tent at the Microbrewers' Festival on July 30 proved be a destination. Tristan Schmid reported, “159 people enlisted as IN Beer Brigadiers at the festival, and those interested can sign up now here or at the Brewers of Indiana Guild/Drink Indiana Beer booth at the Beer, Wine & Spirits Exposition in Grand Hall at the Indiana State Fair Aug. 4-21.” 

  • 450 North Brewing Co.
While IN Beer Brigade’s shield motif is reminiscent of CODO’s original 450 North Brewing Company branding, there’s been a lot of other creative strategy before and between that reflects the kind of careful storytelling that marks CODO’s concept of branding as storytelling to link us with positive purchase choices.

450 North Brewing Company launched in 2012, and is named for where they’re at —8111 E, 450 N. in Bartholomew County; but who but locals know where that is? It’s daunting finding your way on a rural route with little to go by—I admit to requesting an escort the first time I visited.

The solid shield reassures against a feeling of “lost” ’out in the middle of nowhere.’ Over six generations as Indiana heritage farmers the Simmons family has been ‘at home’ at 8111 E 450 N since 1856 and they want us to come on over to enjoy their expansion into being vintners, brewers and cider makers with a restaurant featuring ingredients from their farm.

Getting inside the Simmons' family story and visualizing the comfort of a homestead farm for potential customers is what motivates Isaac Arthur to find the right icons to touch us in positive ways. For both the IN Beer Brigade and 450 North Brewing Company shields represent a sense of empowerment. Feeling empowered is good for anyone connected with craft beer. It’s a given that no matter how much beer all of Indiana’s craft breweries produce within a year, it’s going to be less than what one megabrewery puts out in a week.

The shield inviting us to join the IN Beer Brigade gives us a ‘so there’ stance against megabrewers. We join to empower our little guys.

Isaac Arthur said he knew exactly what he was aiming toward with 450 North and with IN Beer Brigade. And the Bent Rail Brewery depiction identifying its location on the historic Monon Trailway is a no-brainer. Wooden Bear Brewing Company’s bold bear embodies Greenfield’s precedence as a pioneer town along the National Road and exudes a feel of being the hometown of James Whitcomb Riley. At home in the former Gant Opera House, their website tells us, “All of our beers are hand-crafted with a lot of love, a little hops and the hope of making fellow craft beer lovers smile.”

The branding for Centerpoint Brewing Company, poised to open their taproom any day now, is straight-on for “The Intersection of Science and Great Tasting Beer.” Centered by the pendulum, with a sense of cogs turning, stuff is happening as engineers follow a calling to make beer. The brand is the story of the owners-brewers.

Serendipity, however, was at work with Daredevil.* Who was to predict the rural Shelbyville startup would pick up and move to their now commanding corner on Speedway’s newly refurbished Main Street? Even brewmaster and co-founder Michael Pearson expressed wonderment at the enduring appropriateness of the Daredevil helmet exuding everything connected with the Brickyard and Indy 500 before such a move was remotely contemplated.
(*Editor's note: This has been updated to note that CODO did not brand Daredevil. That work was done by an agency out of Colorado called Cultivator. CODO worked with Daredevil to design their website.)
Isaac Arthur admits to ‘dumb good luck’ during our conversation at BRBP, but then again, maybe something about those conversations with Michael and Shane Pearson and Bill Ballinger…

Isaac Arthur designed Big Lug's building - BIG LUG CANTEEN
  • Big Lug Canteen
  • Isaac Arthur designed Big Lug's building
Listening to the story and ferreting out what makes each brewery unique is at the core of branding. It’s what makes Isaac Arthur happy to go to work every day. But what else? Well, given free reign to design Big Lug’s entire space top to bottom is the ultimate lark, says Isaac. He’s not negating the fun of creating a stand alone brand image but given permission to ‘write on walls,’ so to speak, is like entering Nirvana.

“Big Lug’s story is constantly engaging everyone who walks through the door,” he points out. “It’s everywhere top to bottom, not just in the brand image of a ‘big lug’. If you haven’t been, go. It’s as close you’ll get to eating and drinking in a pop-up book —crazy and comforting, whimsical and solid, it’s feeding your inner child along with getting your daily nutrients.

“We got to spread our wings with Big Lug,” says Isaac. It’s an admission to savor.

CODO Design, founded in 2009 by partners Isaac Arthur and Cody Fague, is an Indianapolis branding and web design firm “founded on the belief that we can create better design by including our clients in the creative process.”

Beyond creating a portfolio within Indiana, CODO’s national clients include Fernson Brewing Co. in South Dakota, North Pier Brewing Co. in Michigan, B Chord Brewing in Virginia, Trail Crest Brewing Co in Arizona, Triptych Brewing Co. in Illinois, Backward Flag Brewing in New Jersey, and the Battleground State Brewing Co in-planning in Ohio and North Pier Brewing Company, underway in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

International clients include Carmen Beer Co. in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, with a trip “to Europe to brand a Bulgarian brewery later this year .”

Isaac Arthur also writes, creates videos, and presents broadly on brand strategy, positioning, naming, and package design within the United States craft beer industry as part of the University of Vermont's "Business of Craft Beer" program.

“In 2015, I was hired as a subject matter expert to present on branding, packaging, and positioning for the University of Vermont’s “Business of Craft Beer Professional Certificate Program. This program brings experts from all over North America together to cover topics ranging from brand strategy and digital marketing, to sales and business operations. I just wrapped up my second course of instruction and will be doing it again later this year.”

CODO launched their Craft Beer Branding Guide on August 1, 2016. While aimed at the brewing industry, the points made are relevant for anyone contemplating opening a business of any kind. And even if you’re not, knowing something about the way success falls to some and evades others is instructive for everyday living.

Isaac Arthur’s enjoyment of craft beer as a patron bodes well with CODOs choice to center its work within the craft industry. And, by the way, he adds, “As a Herron student under Dean Johnson’s internship program I worked on cover sketches for your book True Brew. My design wasn’t chosen.” He says he bought the book anyway, at its launch at the Broad Ripple Brewpub in 2010.

We finished our beers, and wrapped up the conversation.

Learn more here.

CODO Design, Inc.; 1500 N. Delaware St., Indianapolis, IN 46202; 317-403-3173


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