SAB Miller – St Stefanus Entering a category by putting consumers in charge

The challenge:

Identify the best way for our client to enter the specialty beer market across Europe and develop a positioning and brand identity to capitalize on this.

The essence:

Attention to detail & devotion to craftsmanship

Our thinking:

The specialty beer market is very crowded and the bigger players in the Abbey beer segment were slowly becoming mainstream and losing some of their special-ness. Our research identified a target consumer who is passionate about his beer, and will go to great lengths to find out about it, researching beers online and getting involved in beer blogs and chat rooms. They want knowledge and they want to tell people about what they know.

We recommended pursuing the idea of ‘Next generation connoisseurship’ where the consumer could feel in control of the brewing process. Linking various product attributes with stories from around the St Stefanus abbey, we sought to change the game in the Abbey Beer category by developing the idea that the consumer could to get ‘Closer to the brewmaster’ with a beer that matures in the bottle. As the beer tastes different depending on how long it is stored for and how it is poured, the consumer can demonstrate his connoisseurship by controlling the final stage of the brewing process.

As authenticity is key in this category, every element in the identity can be found at the abbey or the brewery – the capital S of the logo features in an old manuscript, the bleeding heart icon on the crown cork is from a stained glass window and each bottle is signed by Jef Versele the brewmaster.

Its Impact

Launched in a low-key manner across Northern Europe, the brand has now gained strong distribution on the back of the story – with minimal marketing support.


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