With Bold Rebrand Fat Tire Asks Beer Drinkers to Help Save Mother Earth
How LAND used bold, eye-catching design to refocus America’s original craft beer brand on sustainability and climate activism (and having fun outside)
The glowing Fat Tire neon has long been a beacon in river and mountain towns across America: a vibrant red bicycle signaling not only that crisp, cold beer waits inside, but that it waits for you, fellow outdoors lover. More recently though, that iconic neon is looking a little different—and it’s hoping to attract a more diverse audience, too. That's thanks to a recent rebrand that’s putting bold design and climate advocacy front and center in bars and beer aisles nationwide.
As design obsessives and lovers of Mother Nature (and occasional collaborators with the beer brand in question), we were curious to dig into Fat Tire’s brand refresh, executed by LAND design studio. After a handful of conversations with Fat Tire Brand Manager Taylor Boyd, it became clear the effort has been organically incubating behind the scenes for years.
“Fat Tire has spent decades establishing credibility and equity in the outdoor space. The whole thing is based on bikes—it’s literally in the name,” Boyd tells Field Mag. “But we want to talk to people who aren't necessarily only drinking a beer after they’ve climbed a fourteener. Fat Tire is for everyone.”
To help grow the brand’s identity and appeal, LAND re-centered the visual brand identity around Fat Tire’s longstanding sustainability efforts and recently updated, easy drinking recipe. With eye-catching design and strong storytelling, the new brand voice speaks to beer drinkers everywhere who share the brand's passion for protecting the only planet we have, and enjoy tossing back a few cold ones from time to time.
But before the beer can be enjoyed, whether at the trailhead, in the backyard, or at the local city park, it’s first found on a shelf in a beer aisle. Which makes the can and bottle label the crown jewel of any beer branding project. It’s an entirely new take on the brand’s original, and beloved, watercolor label by Anne Finch. And in characteristic LAND style, it’s striking, minimalist, and begs to be held and looked over.
“The bicycle is a beautiful expression of human freedom."
“We call it the portal of optimism,” LAND co-founder and project lead Caleb Everitt says of the label’s defining design element. “The bicycle is a beautiful expression of human freedom. So creating that oval as a perfect little keyhole glimpse into a place of optimism was a really exciting way to celebrate the radical freedom of the bicycle and the brand’s origin story. The fact that it's an old Stumpjumper makes it even better.”
With an adventure-ready bike in the eye of the beer holder, LAND puts Fat Tire’s fun-having roots side by side with its sustainability efforts. “The brand’s original ethos was of slowing down and embracing the weird,” says Boyd. “A literal fat tire on a bike is for going at your own pace and in comfort. You know, being able to just cruise—or to hop off curbs and not blow your rim. That simple notion is where the brand began and will continue to define its evolution from here forward.”
But words, zeitgeisty designs, and optimism alone without action won’t affect change. That’s where the rest of the branding—and brand history—come into play. “High quality, low impact” may be a catchy new slogan, but sustainability as a principle has guided the brand since inception, even if it was perhaps neglected a little bit by earlier branding.
“The brand’s original ethos was of slowing down and embracing the weird."
As both America’s first certified carbon neutral beer and a B Corp that brews in zero-waste facilities largely powered by renewables like biogas, solar, and wind, the Fort Collins, Colorado-based company has plenty to shout about. And the new rebrand does well to celebrate these achievements. But Fat Tire is also hoping the bold, climate-focused branding encourages beer drinkers, beer brewers, and other businesses to take similar steps to reduce their environmental impact, too.
“We are very aware that we are only one medium-sized business. And no matter what we do to reduce our own environmental impact, at the global level, it doesn't really matter. What does matter is getting more businesses to take meaningful steps to reduce their impact—and to not be afraid to have a voice on the topic of climate action,” explains Boyd. “It's cool to give a shit. And together we have a larger impact than we can alone.”
At the same time, efforts to reduce the impact of their already efficient brewing process spurred recipe experiments, too. “Because of the different tweaks we were making, we started to also get different flavor outputs from these recipe batches,” shares Boyd. And even though the impact reduction efforts didn’t yield big enough results to tout too loudly, the crisp new flavor profile stuck. “We decided to continue down that path to essentially brew the best Fat Tire that we know how to—a better version brewed using everything that we've learned over more than 30 years of brewing.”
This pretty much sums up the new redesign as a whole. To use a marketing cliche, you could call it "new and improved," but the change goes deeper—it's rooted in the brand’s true DNA. Change-averse fans may cry foul on the new recipe or shed a tear for the loss of the beloved vintage red cruiser bicycle, but for the first time ever the bike on the label—a late '80s Specialized Stumpjumper—is truly representative of the one co-founder Jeff Lebesch toured Europe on, the very ride that inspired the original batch of Fat Tire.
Regardless, at the end of the day when it comes time to enjoy a few cold ones with your pals, whether hard earned on the trail or behind the keyboard, the shiny new look, new easy drinking recipe, and renewed commitment to the only planet with beer make Fat Tire an easy reach if you ask us.