AHA Gets Hopped Up on New Logo


If you are even minimally involved in the microbrew and home brewing world, you are probably familiar with the American Homebrewers Association. This organization has been representing and advocating for home brewers since 1978 and now has a sizeable following within the niche, with 27,000 members, an industry magazine and a well-attended annual conference.

The organization is prominent within their field, no thanks to their logo design. This design is not bad, merely a poor representative of their industry. It features two stalks of barley (drawn in a way that could be interpreted as wheat or any one of many similar grains) swirling around the letters AHA. The lettering is square with a hint of serifs and almost feels like a fraternity sign to me. The burgundy and gold do not relate to the beer industry in any way; if anything, they make the logo design feel like one for a restaurant or other food industry business.

Clearly there was a lot of room for improvement here. It is a nice logo design, but it does not represent the business, which is an instant fail. The new logo design is much more specific to the industry. I see a beer cap, a pilsner glass, a hop, and that familiar stalk of barley, which is easier to identify in this context. Warm colors reminiscent of beer have replaced the old and ineffective palette.

This is a definite improvement, no question there. However, there are still a few issues. First, the logo feels a little crowded. This may be due to the fact that all of the elements have been given the same weight; your eye is not sure where to go first and thus skips around over the different parts of the logo design. The barley feels like it is dwarfed by the hop, which is not a good representation of their actual sizes. In addition, the glass could have been drawn to match the lines of the circular shape better, especially at the bottom of the glass.

And then there is the wording. The AHA has chosen a heavy and thick font that may be a little too blocky for this application. It definitely feels like a  beer-related font and a has a classic feeling that matches the rest of the logo design well, but the lettering just does not seem to fit well. In addition, the way the wording wraps around circle makes half of it upside-down. People just don’t like reading words that way. The words could have been placed so that all of the letters are right-side up, making for a much more user-friendly logo design.

A last nitpicky question: is this logo design specific enough? It certainly beats the old logo in this area, but it remains appropriate for any beer business. It could represent a brewery, Anheuser-Busch, or any business remotely related to beer. There is nothing here that screams ‘industry association’. If anything, the beer cap shape makes me think I am looking at a microbrew logo design until I read the wording.