Established in 1987 by a trio of twenty-something students in Blainville, Quebec, Les Brasseurs du Nord (“The Brewers of the North” in English) is one of the leading microbreweries in the province of Quebec. Their flagship beer Boréale comes in seven variations that range from an IPA to a stout. Last month, the brewery introduced a new logo and identity for Boréale designed by Montreal- and Québec-based lg2boutique.
The image update is inspired by its new positioning, “Celebrate life naturally”, a nod to Boréale’s legacy, its authenticity, the call of the wild, the thirst for freedom and the rejection of the superficial.
The typography and the blue color in the old logo made it look like it belonged on yoghurt packaging, more than beer. The polar bear — alluding to the polar lights or aurora borealis — remains the exact same shape but its shading has been changed to a subtle tone-on-tone that makes a huge difference in how much more elegant it looks. I would have personally taken out some of the smile as it begins to feel too much like a caricature. Changing from the serif on a curve to a straight-up condensed wordmark is a big improvement as well and I love the embedded accent over the “E”. The more relevant change is that the two elements can be used separately and not always in a lock-up, as seen in the new bottles.
Freed from the main logo, the emblematic bear is enhanced and is at the heart of the new identity. Everything has been designed to attract consumers, to invite them to reconsider and rediscover Boréale products.
The old bottles were fairly ambitious for a microbrewery, with its custom die-cuts on the body and neck labels and the design, although a little misguided in style, was not all bad. The new label keeps the special die-cut treatment for the bear but quadruples its real estate, making it overly prominent and setting it up as the key identifying element of the bottle. It’s different, for sure, and striking in the whiteness of the bear against the brown of the bottle. The neck label feels a little disconnected in aesthetic — the bottom has plenty of texture with the bear’s fur and the landscape’s shading — but it’s nice on its own. The caps are stunning in their dark blue.
The concept of the full bear coming around the bottle is expressed on one of the sides of the 6-pack and that’s part of what makes the bottle work, seeing it paired with the full drawing of the bear. The typography and hierarchy on the 6-packs is top-notch and dead-simple. The colored landscapes play a bigger role for color-coding the beers and the stripes of color contrast beautifully with the dark blue.
Overall, this is a stunning execution. At times it feels like a winter-only seasonal product since it’s all about the polar bear and the snow but, no biggie, I would totally drink this in the dead of summer.