ST. LOUIS — Anheuser-Busch InBev has been working hard to get its business growing in the U.S. again.
It’s set to launch a new zero-carb beer next month aimed at health-conscious drinkers. It’s uncorked seltzers and bought up a ready-to-drink cocktail brand as part of its Beyond Beer effort. And, on Tuesday, A-B unveiled a new logo and motto.
The decades-old Budweiser-red “A” and the bald eagle in its center are now gold. The eagle is also in full flight — no more perch atop a shield and arrows like those on the U.S. seal. And a new company-wide motto: “To A Future With More Cheers.”
It’s not as splashy as a new beer brand. The new logo looks a lot like the old. But the differences offer a visual shorthand for how the world’s largest brewer is trying to shake off years of flat sales, shift toward fast-selling premium brands, and tap into a younger generation’s broader palate.
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“We’re evolving how we show up to the world to better reflect where we want to go,” the company said in a video announcing the changes.
The company says its new gold gradient mirrors the color of barley and beer, and that the reoriented eagle is “boldly gazing into the future.” David Meyer, president of Spoke Marketing downtown, said the new color scheme also looks premium, or high-end, and the modernized, slimmed-down look is likely more appealing to younger generations.
That’s certainly what the brewer, which has its North American headquarters here, wants.
In a presentation to investors last month, division chief Brendan Whitworth said he saw two big things driving future growth in his market. First: more people looking to drink “high-end” beer, like the company’s prized Michelob Ultra brand. The second: poaching drinkers from wine and spirits, the latter of which has slashed beer’s market share by winning over younger drinkers seeking new flavors and slimmer waistlines. That’s the role of Bud Light Seltzer and the recently acquired Cutwater Spirits, which Whitworth told the Post-Dispatch is the fastest-growing ready-to-drink cocktail brand in the country.
Executives are using the motto as a rallying cry, inside the company.
In recent years, Anheuser-Busch has developed a reputation for resting on its laurels: As an independent company, it was slow to expand internationally, hindering its growth and leaving it vulnerable to the InBev takeover in 2008. A decade after that megadeal, A-B InBev has started to lose momentum as well: Its revenue peaked with the last big acquisition, of SABMiller, in 2016.
New CEO Michel Doukeris wants to turn that around. In a frank talk with investors last month, he conceded that even as InBev made deal after deal to become the world’s largest brewer, it missed opportunities.
“We took our eyes off consumer trends and innovation,” he said. “And as a result, growth in the entire beer category did not reach its full potential.” Now, he said, the company has to go from buying growth to growing itself — “from being category leaders to leading category growth.”
Whether any of the changes will sell more beer remains to be seen. People buy Budweiser, not Anheuser-Busch, after all.
But employees are probably already talking about it. And maybe it’ll push them to see the company a bit differently, to focus their efforts, and, perhaps, sell more beer.
If nothing else, it’s a pretty good way to get in the newspaper, said Aaron Perlut, partner at downtown marketing firm Elasticity. “And that can be just as important.”