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The rebirth of Ottakringer, the last brewery in Vienna

The rebirth of Ottakringer, the last brewery in Vienna


The Austrian capital’s only remaining brewery needed to up its game to compete in a highly competitive marketplace against stiff competition from both national and international brands. Claessens International drew on quality, heritage and urban cool to mark a renaissance in the Ottakringer Brewery.

Very much an urban beer brand, steeped in Austrian history, Ottakringer is the only brewery remaining in Vienna. Dating back to 1837, its name comes from its location in the Austrian capital’s 16th district, Ottakring. Although its connection with city-dwelling Austrians has moved with the times, through graffiti-style promotions and the holding of events in the striking concrete and steel space beneath the brewery’s iconic tower, Christiane Wenckheim, chairman of the board of directors at Ottakringer, knew the brand was not up to scratch.

Aware of Claessens International’s reputation for successfully branding beers the world over, Wenckheim consulted the company to address this disconnect and move the Ottakringer brand forward. What the brewery got was not only a vibrant new look and feel to the Ottakringer range of beers, but also a corporate image for the brewery itself and a comprehensive rejuvenation of the historic business, marking its rebirth in the marketplace.


Starting with the brewery’s flagship beer, Claessens examined the positioning of the entire Ottakringer range in detail to ensure the look and feel of each product was making the right visual and emotional connection with its target audience.

“This was not a commission to be taken lightly,” says James Boulton, creative and managing director at Claessens. “The future and reputation of the only brewery in Vienna was at stake.”

The work began on the Ottakringer beer label. Its drooping banner presented a rather tired, dreary image in front of a dated backdrop. Claessens’ transformation injected a real vibrancy, while reflecting the quality of the product and its provenance.

“One important touch was changing the Ottakringer symbol from a generic and almost naive drawing of a tree, which had little connection with the brewery, to a representation of its most striking and historic feature, the brewery tower,” explains Boulton.

He continues: “This new corporate symbol makes perfects sense, because it is embedded in the fabric of the brewery’s history – its very bricks and mortar. In fact, when we started working with Ottakringer, the tower was being renovated and Christianne and her team loved the idea of it becoming the brewery’s new brand image. It’s a historic part of the Viennese skyline and, as such, makes the ideal focal point for the Ottakringer brand.”


Working through the Ottakringer range, Claessens applied its core brand development principles to each product, bringing out its individuality, while retaining its bond to the brewery. Central to the label design was the “O” of Ottakringer itself. The specific way it was drawn was the inspiration for the entire brand image so that the traditional beer label was adapted to encompass that as another iconic symbol for the brand.

Working thorugh the range, the Radler fruit beer range was given a consistent image with the core brand, however, we placed a greater emphasis on representing the fruity nature of the product, while the stronger XVI selection took on a far more contemporary offering to the younger bar scene with an energetic and dynamic look contrasting the brand colour yellow with a cool black bottle.

Null-komma-joseph, Ottakringer’s low alcohol beer, received an upliftling redesign to match its wonderfully evocative name and gave the brand a higher quality beer impression. Gone was the rather severe looking man, replaced instead with a smiling, fresh-faced individual brandishing an inviting stein brimming with golden ale.

However, equally impressive was Claessens’ work for Ottakringer’s second beer brand, the somewhat neglected premium beer Gold Fassl. As well as re-designing the look and feel of the packaging to make it lustrous, inviting and aspirational to better reflect the premium nature of the beer, Claessens also drew on its own experience to advise Ottakringer on Gold Fassl’s market positioning, setting it out as the jewel in the Ottakirnger brewery’s crown.

Claessen’s work didn’t stop with the product range. “Over a year, we worked step-by-step with Ottakringer to build value not only into the beer brands, but into the brewery itself,” explains Boulton. “We stressed the need for the brewery to have an overarching corporate image that is separate to that of its products. Christiane agreed, so we created the company’s first corporate mark that reflected its vision and values, and represented the actual brewery itself.”

The result was a more complete illustration of the iconic brewing tower above the striking Ottakringer name, along with the date the brewery was established.

Once the work was finished, Claessens guided the production aspects of the brand development and remained in contact with Ottakringer to make sure the new branding was being delivered in the right way. For instance, prior to the pre-launch meeting, Boulton noticed that the new Ottakringer label had been printed on paper rather than foil, which reduced its impact, so he advised a change in materials to get the maximum effect from the new branding, which the brewery implemented to great effect.


Although the re-positioning of the Ottakinger brand was only completed in early 2012, early indications show this will have a significant impact on the brand.

“We are delighted to have been part of the renaissance of Ottakringer by building a true beer brand celebrating the history, knowledge and quality that clearly exists within the business. At the same time, we’ve created an uplifting, positive, urban feel to all the products, in line with the vibrancy of 21st century Vienna.”

Claessen’s work has given the company a new impetus, helping create the renniasance of the brewery, and Wenckheim plans to use the renewed interest in the brand to move into other markets.

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