Ale-8-One celebrates 89th anniversary with new branding

WINCHESTER, Ky. (AP) — The opening line to the new Ale-8-One brand positioning statement says it best — "We don’t cater to the common, we don’t run on a beaten path."

It’s been a successful path for close to a century now for the Winchester-based bottling company, and they’re now looking to cater to even more people.

Looking at its history in Central Kentucky and in Winchester-Clark County, Ale-8-One Bottling Company, located at 25 Carol Road, celebrated its 89th anniversary this week after being first introduced at the Clark County Fair on July 13, 1926.

Following a year-long, in-depth look at its own unique brand, consumers and employees, Ale-8-One produced packaging on its 89th anniversary which best reflects the Bluegrass in a green glass.

"The time is right to share our brand," Ale-8-One Bottling Company CEO and fourth-generation owner Fielding Rogers said. "For those unfamiliar with Ale-8, we wanted to better communicate our proud heritage, great story and flavor profile."

Rogers took part in the festivities, which included an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the company as members of the public were shown the company’s warehouse and production facility and Ale-8-One debuted the newly-branded package. Rogers said Ale-8-One has made a lot of changes within the calendar year.

"We have some new people that are doing an excellent job and we’ve got a new rebranding and new mission statement and new vision statement," Rogers said. "We’ve made a lot of progress in some outside areas as well, including Louisville and Cincinnati, working with Coke and some other distributors to get into more places."

"We’re always tracking on social media where Ale 8 fans are that currently can’t get it," Rogers said. "We want to get it to them."

Keeping true to their historical roots, Ale-8-One designed the non-returnable glass and plastic bottles to reflect the look of the iconic returnable bottle. A vintage designed stamp describes the flavor profile: "Crisp, clean real ginger with a hint of citrus," and incorporates a revived Ale-8 slogan dating back to the 1940s, "For bracing pep."

Also, a voluntary Clear on Calories logo was added to the front panel for transparency. The new packaging also communicates the popular beverage’s secret formula has not changed.

"We want everyone to know it’s the same drink we’ve always had," Rogers said. "It’s the same secret formula and the same recipe, we’re just modernizing the package and better communicating what it tastes like with the flavor profile and Clear on Calories so people know a bottle is 120 calories, which is actually quite a bit less than most of our competitors."

Cans of Ale-8-One will also take on a new look as the familiar logo will be wrapped around a picture of the Red River Gorge. The aluminum can will be referred to as the "Uncommon Can" and feature the same additions as the non-returnable glass and plastic bottles, but will more prominently showcase the Gorge image.

The same image of the Red River Gorge will be carried through to the can wrap and the handle of the 6-pack glass carton.

"Like Ale-8, the Red River Gorge is a Bluegrass gem to those in the know — a retreat off the beaten path, where cherished memories are made," Ale-8-One President and COO Ellen McGeeney said. "We’ve added this refreshing image that carries the marketing campaign, ‘One sip, and you’re there.’"

Rogers said consumers can expect to see these changes integrated into the market over the next six months, beginning later this month and into early August.

Ale-8-One Sales Manager Steve Bale said the small, family-owned business is experiencing growth when industry leaders are declining.

"We are excited to take advantage of market trends in our favor," Bale said. "Ale-8 is benefiting from growth in beverages that are handcrafted in glass, and that provide unique flavors and authentic brand stories. We’re also benefiting from the explosion in Kentucky bourbon, being a preferred mixer.

"The company is experiencing double-digit growth in the Louisville and Cincinnati markets, and we’re excited for new opportunities."

Along with packaging updates, the branding work included the addition of the first mission statement for the company. Again, reaching into the past for inspiration, the Ale-8-One mission captures qualities of the long-neck returnable bottle. Returnable bottles, which will remain the same as they have for years, contain twice as much glass and are built for longevity.

Ale-8-One is one of the last remaining companies in the United States to still accept glass bottles returned for deposit to rewash, refill and reuse. As a result, the company’s mission statement reads "Return for Deposit: We Believe in Returning a Deposit Made in Good Faith."

"It was important that we have a mission statement to guide our decision-making and behavior as we look to expand," said McGeeney, the first president outside of the founding family to run Ale-8-One. "Fielding’s business model is not industry standard. He’s the fourth-generation owner and treats his employees like family. The company values are as important as maintaining the bottom line, and profitable growth that is steady and sustainable."

Rogers said his company markets his product as a treat, and he wants Ale-8-One to be a part of when people go out and have a good time building memories and relationships.

"It’s a tough business, and our philosophy is kind of an inch deep and a mile wide," Rogers said. "We want to spread that out a little bit as we can. We just don’t want to go overnight national, it’s hard to do that. We want to grow concentrically from the next level to the next level because that’s where your fans are."

"Right now, we’re based in Central Kentucky, but we’re expanding to Louisville and Cincinnati and to Indianapolis and Columbus. Indianapolis and Columbus are two areas we’ll be expanding to in the next couple months and those are areas where we do have fans and people are looking for it actively."

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