Celebrating the dominance of American Hops in beer

Yakima Chief Hops

/ CASE STUDY

Honor six generations of Yakima hop farmers

When we needed help differentiating our brand in an increasingly crowded market space, Retail Voodoo and their unique process gracefully and effectively led the organization to a compelling and exciting space.

  • — K. Ruffing / CMO Yakima Chief Hops / Yakima Chief Hops

Challenge

The explosive popularity of craft beer fueled the merger of two grower-owned hop brands, Yakima Chief Inc. and Hopunion LLC, forming Yakima-Chief Hopunion (YCHHOPS). While this acronym is a textbook example of how to rename during a mega-merger, the name YCHHOPS felt like the antithesis of what both companies stood for, sounding more like a multi-national faceless corporation than a grower-owned company.

When we began our work, many of the founders and long-term employees expressed deep concern that the past would be forgotten, and the legacy of both heritage brands tarnished by rebranding.

YCHHOPS spent most of their energy on assurance of quality while wrestling with the fact that until the craft brew movement brought American hops to the forefront of the industry, hops were a commodity and therefore sold mostly on price. YCHHOPS used industry boiler-plate to explain their business and was not getting credit for their technological and operational savvy.

YCHHOPS was not differentiated on anything but scale

Strategy

Beer-drinkers have ushered in a new era in the hop industry by caring about the ingredients that make their favorite beverages. Breweries are looking to help tell the story about hops and why they choose to support family farms by purchasing the highest quality hops for their brews.

The combined 30-year history of connecting family hop farms to the world’s finest brewers blended well with YCHHOPS’ goal of global category leadership and e-commerce.

We worked directly with the company’s leadership to clarify how they talk about hops, hop farming, their mission, and history. Celebrating their heritage as early innovators in the hop industry, we renamed the company Yakima Chief Hops and developed a new brand positioning focused on farming and science. We then helped Yakima Chief Hops build their marketing and global e-commerce programs during the rebrand, emphasizing a new tone and voice that was equal parts farmer, beer geek, and global logistics expert.

From there we created new packaging, sales and marketing materials, and advertising and tradeshow experiences for three different global audiences.

About their new logo:

  1. We created a new logo for Yakima Chief Hops that represents the past, present, and future of the organization as well as the science of hop growing and the innovative approach of connecting hop growers directly to brewers.
  2. We noticed that virtually all other hop brands are indistinguishable: similar in color, hue, typeface, and imagery — essentially a sea of green sameness. Perfect opportunity for a Zag.
  3. We celebrated the American heritage of Yakima Chief Hops and its long-standing relationship with the Yakama Nation by using an earthy red and blue, setting the stage for a modern, Americana theme: timeless, bold, and iconic.

Our go to market strategy for Yakima Chief Hops: American Hops from the Pacific Northwest

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