Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beam Unveils New Logo And Names New Bourbons Boss.

Yesterday was a big news day at Beam Global. They unveiled a new corporate logo (above) and named Christopher G. Bauder as the Bourbon Category Business Team (CBT) General Manager.

Bourbon whiskey is Beam’s largest and best-performing category. Beam is the world’s largest producer of bourbon. The company’s flagship brand, Jim Beam, sells six-million cases a year. Maker’s Mark sells more than one million.

In the past two years, Beam has also innovated within the Bourbon category by introducing new products such as Red Stag by Jim Beam, Maker’s 46, Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve and, most recently, Jim Beam Devil’s Cut.

“With his extensive global brand building and sales experience, Chris Bauder is positioned to take our Bourbon portfolio to the next level,” said Bill Newlands, Beam president, North America. “Bourbon is our number one, single largest category at Beam, and I’m confident that with Chris’ leadership we’ll continue to revolutionize within our portfolio and drive other industry trends.”

Before joining Beam, Bauder served as S.C. Johnson’s Vice President Marketing, International Markets. He was 17 years at Johnson. Bauder has a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and political science from Duke University and a Master of Business Administration from Marquette University.

While I’m disappointed that such an important position is going to someone with no bourbon experience, that’s pretty typical of the way Beam hires and promotes. Beam is now the world’s fourth-largest premium spirits company, with 10 of the world’s top-100 premium spirits brands in its portfolio. The fact that it is primarily an American whiskey company is good for American whiskey enthusiasts.

The new logo reflects this. It also reflects the fact that people have always called the company “Beam” regardless of its actual name. The new name and logo will take effect as soon as the separation from Fortune Brands is complete, sometime in the new few months.

The new corporate logo is based on Jim Beam’s actual signature. This has more historic significance than the company may even know. Late in the 19th century, when brands were first becoming important in the American whiskey business, legal protection for trademarks was very weak. Legal protection against forgery was much stronger. Starting with Hiram Walker, many producers reproduced their personal signatures prominently on their labels, and encouraged their customers to look for the signature to ensure authenticity.

Producers who followed Walker’s lead included George Garvin Brown, E. H. Taylor and James E. Pepper. Unscrupulous producers could copy a name or label with impunity, but not a signature.

The Beam family has no significant ownership stake in the company and there are no Beam family members in senior management. “Our new corporate identity is simple, authentic, memorable and is the perfect reflection of our commitment to the Beam family’s pioneering vision established more than 216 years ago,” said Matt Shattock, Beam president and CEO.


Bradley J. Weidemann said...

I always enjoy reading the history that you dig up. I had never known about the forgery angle. Isn't intellectual property law (trademarks, copyrights, patents) mixed up?

Anonymous said...

Beam with no Beams in Management positions and being run by an MBA with no bourbon experience. All this leads to my perception of Beam's quality sliding into mediocrity.

Chuck Cowdery said...

Nothing has changed in that regard. The Beam family has not had a significant role in managing the company for at least 40 years. Family members have been and still are involved in the making bourbon part in Kentucky, however.