The explosive popularity of craft beer is fueling the dominance of American-style hops, which are known for big, bold flavor. One hundred-percent grower-owned Yakima Chief Hops, based in Yakima, WA, is the largest international provider of American-style hops.
The company as it is now was formed in 2014 when two industry leaders, Yakima Chief Inc & Hopunion, LLC, formally merged to form Yakima Chief – Hopunion, LLC (YCH HOPS). In 2018, the company changed its name to Yakima Chief Hops, honoring more than 30 years of connecting family hop farms to the world’s finest brewers. With a goal of global leadership and e-commerce, the company turned to brand strategy firm Retail Voodoo to help establish a completely new brand strategy.
According to David Lemley, Founder/Chief Strategist, Retail Voodoo, “We worked directly with them to clarify how they talk about hops, hop farming, their mission, and their history. This led to a new positioning focused on farming and science. We then helped them build their marketing and global e-commerce programs and did a complete rebrand, including a new tone, voice, packaging, marketing, and advertising materials.”
Says Kate Ruffing, Chief Marketing Officer, Yakima Chief Hops, who led the brand transformation efforts, “We have entered a new age in the hop industry where beer-drinking consumers really care about the ingredients that make their favorite beverages. The brewers 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. We want to share that story with brewers and beer drinkers around the world.”
The Retail Voodoo team noted that other hop brands are indistinguishable: similar in color, hue, typeface, and imagery—essentially a sea of green sameness. They 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. “Additionally, we wanted to celebrate their American heritage and their long-standing relationship with the Yakama nation by using an earthy red and blue that set the stage for a modern, Americana theme: timeless, bold, and iconic,” says Lemley.
The new tagline reads: “American Hops from the Pacific Northwest.” The interlocking rings of the new logo are connected with a stylized hop cone and mirror the company’s core mission of connecting family farms with the world’s finest breweries by supplying the highest-quality hop products as well as the connection of two grower-owned companies.
“When we needed help differentiating our brand in an increasingly crowded marketspace, Retail Voodoo and their unique process gracefully and effectively led the organization to a compelling and exciting space,” adds Ruffing. The full rollout and launch of the new brand coincided with the September 2018 hop harvest.