Cosmic Brew

Squad, the management consultancy meets creative agency, are today announcing they have created a series of new beers for JW Lees, the Manchester-based brewery and pub company. The new products are part of a new vision for the business that Squad established when they relaunched the 190 year-old brand in October 2017. The brand strategy was to ‘put the brewery at the heart of the business’ and these beers are the result of that.

The new products include Cosmic Brew, which was a collaboration between Professor Brian Cox and JW Lees. The design continues the approach of using display typefaces, which Squad used to create a distinctive JW Lees identity as part of the original rebrand. By using typography inspired by sci-fi comic book graphics, Cosmic Brew feels like something special and different yet still distinctively JW Lees.

Professor Brian Cox said: “I enjoyed being involved in the branding and design. The pattern of the stars on the label is the view of the night sky looking North over the brewery on the day I was born; March 3rd, 1968. It’s what I would have seen had I looked out of the window. There’s a fact for the pub quiz.”

Alongside Cosmic Brew, Squad have created a seasonal range of beers that will be released in two-month cycles during 2019. The branding pays homage to some of the greatest bands to have shaped the Manchester and UK music scene. As with Cosmic, the design uses distinctive display typefaces to maintain a thread of JW Lees, but this flexes away from the approach of the core range to create a range that looks new, different and interesting.


The exciting new lineup of beers is completed by The Boilerhouse range. These are the first beers to come out of JW Lees’ new small-batch 10-barrel brewery and bottling plant. Squad have worked closely with JW Lees since the inception of the project to position, name and brand this more experimental range. The name was inspired by its location in the old boilerhouse of the existing Greengate Brewery. The branding layers imagery from JW Lees history with modern references and colours. This reflects the story of The Boilerhouse, which is about mixing new styles and varieties of beers with nearly 200 years of brewing history.

David Barraclough, Creative Partner at Squad, said: “The branding we launched for JW Lees in 2017 used a bold typographic approach. It eschewed a restricted family of fonts usually associated with an identity system, in favour of a graphic approach that achieved consistency through deliberate diversity. The branding for these new beers is a perfect example of why we took this approach. We’ve been able to flex the identity according to the beer, a moment in time, or a story.”

Rob Gray, Strategy Partner at Squad, said: “A few years ago we started working with JW Lees to develop the new vision of putting the brewery at the heart of the business. They’ve truly embraced this with a stream of new and interesting beers. These latest brands are great examples of this.”