Fuzzy Recollection

Americans love beer. In fact, more than 190 million barrels of beer were manufactured in the U.S. in 2017. Collectively, Americans spent at least $37 billion on beer from February 2016 to 2017. For reference, they only spent about $12.5 billion on drinking water during that same period.

In some ways, beer has become a symbol of the American experience. Major U.S. events and holidays like the Super Bowl and Fourth of July are smothered with ads for popular brews. Pilgrims even decided to dock at Plymouth Rock to reload on a few barrels, and former President Barack Obama also once said, "... there's never a bad day for a beer ..."

But for all the fanfare, one has to wonder: Are big-time American beer companies as "iconic" as people claim them to be? We asked at least 140 survey respondents to draw various beer brand logos from memory. While they may not be artists, their sketches are, no doubt, a barometer for brand recognition and popular beer brands' ability to imprint themselves on our daily lives. Read on to see their art, botched or otherwise – and to learn more about the impact of beer brands on the United States.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

In general, participants' drawings did not score very high. Budweiser – the most accurately sketched logo –averaged a score of 2.7 out of seven, for example. Corona Extra trailed behind at 2.6, then Bud Light at 2.5 and Coors Light at 2.3. Miller Lite averaged a score of 1.8.

Despite an overwhelming indication that respondents can't accurately replicate logo imagery, a few respondents excelled at the task. The top-rated drawings for each brand captured each logo's primary features, from the intricate crown topping Corona Extra's logo to the mountain peaks set behind Coors Light. The worst drawings completely missed the mark, featuring shapes and configurations not seen in the original logos. However, regardless of whether respondents could recall specific attributes of beer brand logos, they often used the appropriate colors, suggesting that we remember color schemes better than shapes and formations.

Budweiser Logo

Budweiser has a long history in the U.S. First founded in 1876, the company has enjoyed incredible peak sales – in early 2008, Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser's producer) was responsible for 50.9 percent of all beers sold in the country. Though the company's American market share has decreased with rising interest in craft beers and regional brewery culture, it still holds approximately 45% of the American beer market. And despite going through many transformations throughout the years, Budweiser's logo has never lost its red hue.

Nevertheless, of the 140 Americans we asked to draw Budweiser's logo, less than halffilled the logo in red (in fact, nearly 23 percent used the wrong branding colors altogether). About 47 percent of participants forgot to include Budweiser's iconic ribbon drawing, while roughly 20 percent drew another beer band's logo or something completely wrong. The good news: A little over a quarter of all participants added a crown or rays of light to the logo –a part of the design from 1999 to 2016.

Corona Extra Logo

In many ways, Corona Extra is a brand of tradition. The company has aired the same "Feliz Navidad" Christmas commercial since 1990--completely unchanged. And Corona Extra's logo – a deep blue font topped with a golden crown –has been the same since 1925.

But this doesn't necessarily mean everyone remembers what Corona Extra looks like.

Of the 144 study participants who drew the beer company's logo, about 55 percent forgot to include the crown in their drawings. Roughly half also used the incorrect colors, and nearly 43 percent did not use blue for the Corona Extra font. A significant number of participants – around 28 percent – drew something completely wrong or drew something akin to another beer band's logo.

Bud Light Logo

Yielding $5.6 billion in 2017 and accounting for 15.4 percent of the beer market, Bud Light is America's leading brand of beer. It's known for its creative and heartwarming Super Bowl commercials and, perhaps, for being just 110 calories per can. Even so, our survey suggests that brand recognition for Bud Light falls a little … below the mark.

The brand has gone through many logos over the years, but it never lost its blue font included in a circular swoop or a round-edged box. Nevertheless, over 45 percent of participants did not use the correct blue and white colors – and about a third drew an entirely different logo. About 45 percent filled the background in blue, and nearly 61 percent failed to draw a rectangular shape (to be fair, Bud Light rebranded from an oval shape to a rectangle in 2016). Nice attempts, though.

Coors Light Logo

Since its genesis in 1978, Coors Light has always been some iteration of steely gray mountains with a touch of red. The company rebranded its famous beer in 2015 to have a more simple design, but the key elements remain nonetheless.

Like with the other beer brands, we asked Americans to draw the Coors Light logo from memory and then scored their drawings on a scale of 1 to 7. Though 52 percent of participants did not include the red and gray branding colors, about two-thirds knew to include mountains in their depictions Corona Light's logo. There was, however, confusion about where to place the mountains. about 13 percent of participants incorrectly drew it below the text – but the highest-scoring logos included both the red text and gray scenery.

Miller Lite Logo

Miller Lite has gone through several rebrandings. At first, its logo included "Miller Lite" with a red and blue emblem and a large golden circle. A blue border circle was added in 2001, and both disappeared in 2014. In one of its current logos, "Miller" is no longer included – and in another, there is no red and blue emblem.

Our participants did indeed seem confused: Nearly 90 percent used the incorrect colors for Miller Lite's logo. About 37 percent of drawings had missing text, and almost 17 percent of drawings seemed "completely wrong" and "like they've never seen the brand."

Conclusion

We asked 140-plus Americans to sketch the logos for the country's top five best-selling beer companies. Their drawings certainly weren't auction-worthy, but they produced a key insight: Many Americans can't remember the branding or labels for their favorite beers. Though they consume nearly 3 billion cases of beer annually, Americans have trouble recalling basic logos that they likely encounter numerous times during a typical night out.

Methodology

For this project, we asked over 139 participants to draw the top five beer brand logos, based on 2017 revenue. Participants were asked to draw each logo from memory, without looking up said logo, using Sketch.io. User-submitted drawings were then compared to the most recent beer brand logos:

Each user-submitted drawing was graded by three scorers on a scale from of 1 to 7 and averaged.

1 = Does not align with brand logo at all

7 = Perfectly aligns with brand logo

User-submitted drawings were also tagged for containing or not containing various characteristics or traits from each brand logo.

Note: Certain user-submitted logos were excluded for reasons including but not limited to trolling, not drawing a logo, writing text, etc.

Sources

https://www.ttb.gov/statistics/2017/201712beer.pdf

https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2017/the-state-of-the-us-beer-market.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/pilgrims-landed-plymouth-rock-more-beer-mayflower-thanksgiving-2015-11

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-g7-summit-obama-lederhosen/obama-jokes-swigs-beer-with-bavarians-at-start-of-g7-trip-idUSKBN0ON0IF20150607?irpc=932

https://www.businessinsider.com/millennial-beer-habits-force-change-at-ab-inbev-2018-7

https://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2008/04/21/daily42.html

https://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/10-things-you-never-knew-about-budweiser

https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronas-iconic-holiday-ad-returns-to-tv-for-25th-year-1448467200

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/food/2018/07/04/top-selling-beers-in-america-budweiser-coors-heineken/36440871/

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/calorie-carb-protein-in-beer#bud-light

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