Lead Dog Brewing

Brewery Branding for Regional Disruptor

Commence Studio’s collaboration with Lead Dog Brewing Company, a vibrant craft brewery, goes beyond the scope of traditional branding. Aspiring to cultivate a unique blend of rebellious humor, unorthodox styles, and uninhibited creativity, we helped rebrand this brewery with logo design, beer label graphic design, website design, and brewery website development.




Awards & Mentions

American Advertising Federation: Gold - Packaging Design


Reno, NV


Business type



Scalable Branding

Before working with Commence Studio, Lead Dog was acquired by Mammoth Brewing. Prior to the acquisition, Lead Dog’s artwork was done by ad-hoc artists from Fiverr, and it lacked cohesion and a brand narrative across the products.

With 24 rotational beers, and a desire to create brand hierarchy/equity from release to release, they needed better brand and packaging systems to scale out their rapid Limited Time Offerings.


A Full-Service Solution

We implemented a multi-faceted approach to the problem, utilizing many different service lines to build brand, website, and packaging solutions that would help them reach new customers and form even closer connections with their regulars. Here’s a glimpse into how we did it.

Market Research

Our process began by working with their internal VP of Marketing to gather Nielson data and user research/surveys to understand what people want in the craft beer market and their experience of existing Lead Dog products. We used this research to identify the strongest attributes associated with the brand, which were adventure, quality, and variety.

Through this research, we learned that:

    • 71% of respondents buy beer based on bold/interesting packaging

        • 70% make purchasing decisions at the shelf;meaning, they go to the store to browse and see what grabs them

This research led to the creation of the Lead Dog’s new persona and core values – creativity, variety, quality, and a creative community. It also influenced the styles we used in our packaging design.

Brand Platform

Commence Studio created a brand pillar to feature local Reno artists and collaborate on limited release packaging, and merchandise. The exchange was some of the largest individual artist commissions in the region and the website now offers individual profile pages for artists, linking to their sites, and providing them a platform for exposure.

Logo Design & Scalability

The primary challenge was to create brand recognition in the taprooms and retail stores that carry Lead Dog’s beer. Their old logo, a dog head surrounded by a circle of text, didn’t scale to different sizes legibly. They needed design systems that complement the other parts of the brand’s identity from pallets, merchandise, and over 24 beer can labels; to 14 ft signs, social posts, and website icons.

Custom Beer Cans

As Lead Dog’s identity revolves around its experimental and creative craft beer brand, it was essential to create packaging designs that reflect these attributes. By adopting surrealist styles and dreamy visuals, we were able to create interesting designs for their “Core Four” – the best sellers. In addition to the core four, we designed the label systems for seasonal beers, milkshake stouts, lagers, and sours that feature the work of Northern Nevada artists.

Brewery Web Design & Development

The Lead Dog website needed to introduce people to the atmosphere of their taprooms highlight the latest beer releases, make it easy for folks and distributors to buy the beer wholesale or in person, and provide an assets hub for distributors to have access to consistent branded marketing materials. Commence Studio created a way to feature new releases, merchandise, and artist highlights. The site now offers individual profile pages for artists, linking to their sites and providing them a platform for exposure. We also integrated a custom-designed beer finder, making it easier for customers to locate Lead Dog’s beer.

Merch Design

We took some of the branded materials and crafted a line of hats, shirts, flags, beer glasses and more to help Lead Dog launch their new brand. We saw an opportunity to cross-promote Lead Dog with another local partner, Deso Supply Co. one of our favorite resources for high quality, badass merch. We love connecting partners and business owners because it brings us joy and these collaborations create some unique results. The collaborative effort resulted in a Deso-inspired beer launch part where the community came together to dance, connect and purchase merch from both brands.

Advertising Photography

In order to highlight the unique flavor profiles of Lead Dog’s wide array of beers, we art-directed themed photoshoots that highlighted the unique ingredients of the featured beers. The best part? All of the photography took place inside our in-house photo studio. These visuals were flexible enough to be used across the website and other marketing materials while creating a coherent visual style.

The Outcomes

This project illustrated the full spectrum of our agency’s capabilities. Our innovative approach led to significant cost savings, with the switch from labels to pre-printed cans saving approximately $100,000 per year. This exemplifies the harmonious blend of creativity and supported operational efficiencies for Lead Dog. At Commence Studio, we value creativity, collaboration, and strategic thinking, to help us solve our partner’s business problems.

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