Local Brews Local Branding! Featuring Ponysaurus Brewery

LocalBrews LocalBranding! Featuring a different local triangle brewery every month that has some amazing beer and amazing branding!


We are so excited to have Ponysaurus Brewing on the blog today! They are our first featured brewery of this blog series and we couldn’t have picked a better choice! We thought of them because their fun, off the wall ideas when it came to branding their brew and the funny, energetic personalities behind the brand. The three guys behind this beer, Keil, Nick and David, all have made some pretty impressive impressions on the local community with their creativity, leadership and support of the local community, so we wouldn’t expect any less of them! Check out some more info behind the scenes of Ponysaurus Brewing below!



Tell us a little bit about Ponysaurus- who are the guys behind this pony/dinosaur hybrid?

Ponysaurus is the brainchild and labor of love of Keil Jansen, Nick H. Johnson and David Baldwin. We each bring our own expertise into the process, Keil makes damned fine beer, Nick has the operational experience to build and scale the brewery tenfold from making around 180 barrels to 2,000 barrels next year. David brings the branding and design experience.

Keil has been a very active member in the Durham home brew scene and was one of the people behind Brew Durham, a benefit for the Scrap Exchange. At the time he was a special needs teacher at Central Park School in Durham, and last year made the plunge to becoming a full time brewmaster.

Nick H. Johnson is one of the owners of The Cookery and Dashi Ramen in Durham as well as Ponysaurus Brewing. his operational prowess has gotten us on the road.

David Baldwin is also the owner of Baldwin& in Raleigh, NC, the company behind the design of the Ponysaurus work.



How did Ponysaurus come to be?

The story of Ponysaurus is simply the love of beer. That’s it. Somehow we all met and we all wanted to start a brewery and it was eerily easy on one hand because we all get along so well and are pretty much on the same page all the time. It’s kind of weird how much we agree on things and how we rely on, and support, each other to do the things we’re each good at.



What was the creative inspiration behind Ponysaurus?

The idea behind everything we do is to mix traditional and contemporary forms. Just like the beer, we’re a mix of traditional methods delivered in a non-traditional, fun experience. Ponysaurus is a perfectly odd, perfectly perfect name. We love how it weeds out the scoffers. If you don’t like the name, good for you and we wish you well. But if you love it, we know you’re going to love the experience we deliver from the product up. It’s fun and quirky but the weird stops at the beer.



Who did you use for your creative work (logo, website, etc.)

We have the distinct advantage in that one of our founders is part of a renowned advertising and design company in its own right, Baldwin& in Raleigh, NC. All of the work on Ponysaurus work has come out of a strategic process with equal parts rigor and madness to create what we’re up to.



What is different about branding for a brewing company than other businesses?

Everything comes out of narrative story and lore. With Beer you have the great privilege of joining a growing subculture of beautiful design and amazing products. When you’re starting from zero it’s a real opportunity to tell the story you want to your way.



What was the funnest part for you guys about branding your beer?

The first time we saw the Ponysaurus woodcut was a one of those moments where all was right with the universe. We all just kind of looked at each other and smiled. Those moments are truly special in this business. Rivaled only by drinking the beer itself.



Do you believe that branding has a significant impact on your beer?

We’re firm believers that you just can’t sell a terrible product long term. You can say all you want about how good things taste or how fun the experience will be but until that first wash of beer hits someone’s palette it’s all moot. The beer is either going to deliver a great experience or it won’t. So the design can get someone to try it once but the beer is what’s going to get someone to have it the second time. The branding is about getting people to notice and try it that first time and then to give them reasons to be a part of the world we’re building if they enjoy it.



What goes into branding a for beer? What do you really have to think about in order to pull it off successfully?

You can tell pretty quickly whether people are serious about their product by how they brand it. If people create ugly packaging you have to ask what attention they’re putting into the product. Conversely, if the packaging isn’t honest to whom the brand is it’s fairly obvious to people. We happen to believe that people are smart and that they get things. Our job is just to present our world view and invite you along. Because many of the indie beer companies start small they often make bad decisions on their logo or their general branding and it can haunt them later. But it seems like there’s a very enlightened brewing/design community here because most of the branding is quite sophisticated and well done.

One of the places where we’ve veered a bit from convention is that we don’t come up with wacky names for our different styles of beer. We let the style itself be the name. Ponysaurus is crazy enough so our decision is to make that the brand and then you can decide what style you want. I love cool beer names but we’ve gone a different direction.



Were there any lessons you learned in the process of branding Ponysaurus that you didn’t see coming? 

The detail on the original logo was too fine to etch onto glasses and to get small enough so we reached out to Steven Noble–a well known engraving artist–to create a more simplified version of Kellyn’s original Ponysaurus engraving.

We’re also switching to cans which is a big move for a first time brewery and we’re going to be moving away from the paper wrapped bottles, though they’ll still have a place for special brews in the brewery itself. The original packaging was quite intensive in that you had to wrap the bottles at the printer, fill them, cap them and then tape them with the liveried tape, all by hand. Our joke was that the packaging should have had a line on it that said, “Hand Bottled by three idiots in Durham, NC.” because it was quite complicated at first.

The cans are going to be gorgeous but obviously way less difficult from a process standpoint.



Do you have any pictures you can share with us? Any mockups of the process you took in branding? We’d love to see where the original concepts originated and how you ended up at the branding you have now. 


Here is some of the progression of the infamous “ponysaurus”


And below is the final Ponysaurus Branding:


Congrats to the Ponysaurus guys on a job well done! To learn more about Ponysaurus, visit ponysaurusbrewing.com and make sure you follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with them!

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