There are a few reasons for the update, according to Highland President Leah Wong Ashburn. First, the company felt the logo featuring the bagpiping Scotsman was dated and needed a refresh. Second, the old branding didn’t fit the brewery’s updated beer offerings. And finally, Highland wanted to emphasize its position as the founding leader of the craft brewing scene in Asheville.
Here’s more detail about Highland Brewing’s rebranding from the company press release:
“We are unveiling of our new branding and visual identity digitally on February 19th, and will re-open on February 23rd with a new look in the tasting room,” said Molly McQuillan, the brewery’s marketing manager. “We’ve been working on this project for over a year and look forward to this launch with great anticipation.”
The launch celebration will be held during normal business hours that day, from noon until 10 p.m. and will feature new small batch beers, including Highland’s very first Brett brew, as well as throw-back favorites including Little Hump, Razor Wit, and Vintage 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale. Live music will be provided by Mark Shane, Woody Wood, and All the Locals. New merchandise will be on sale and the new packaging and branding will be highlighted. Popular food trucks Smashbox and Appalachian Chic will also be on site, at 12 Old Charlotte Highway. The event is free and open to the public.
“Highland Brewing has been a pioneer in beer since my father founded the company in 1994,” said President Leah Wong Ashburn. “Over two decades, we led with beer, and in recent years, we developed our beer portfolio significantly with fresh new styles and our innovative spirit is firing. The result of the changes was that our beer and our brand were sharing different messages. I love that we are now aligning the message.
What that means is we focused on the four things we know to be true about ourselves: authenticity, sense of place, consistently excellent beer and an inventive spirit.”
Highland’s new look will be reflected in all of its marketing, labeling, point of sale, packaging and merchandise, said McQuillan, who participated in extensive research and development work collaboratively with Austin, Texas, firm Helms Workshop which informed the project. All beers will continue to be labeled under the name “Highland Brewing Company” but will now sport imagery of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the suggestion of a pioneer’s compass and the clear messaging that Highland remains Asheville’s first craft beer.
“Our name is perfect. With it, we honor the local Scots-Irish heritage. We are also on high land – in the mountains and on a hilltop.
We believe in authenticity,” said Ashburn, who became second-generation President of the family-owned business in 2015. She was referring to the staff survey that named authenticity as a common value. “You act the same way when no one else is looking. You deliver the same level of quality every time that only you could notice. You are authentic when your actions align with your words. And when our brand aligns with our beer. This refreshed brand is who we are.”
Highland Brewing was founded in 1994 by retired engineer and entrepreneur Oscar Wong, establishing it as the pioneer of Asheville, NC’s now booming craft beer industry. With a portfolio that is equal parts established and inventive, Highland is known for consistently excellent beer. Proudly regional, Highland is distributed in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky. Annual production around 46,000 barrels makes Highland is the largest independent family-owned brewery born in the Southeast and it has the third largest solar array in an American craft brewery. The brewery is in a rehabilitated manufacturing facility on a hilltop, affording space for thousands of visitors to enjoy limited release beers, tours, and live music. In addition, the event center and rooftop can be reserved for private events. Today, the company is led by Wong’s daughter, Leah Wong Ashburn, and has 50 full-time employees.