Here at Bullhorn, we’re more than just designers and account managers. We help our clients tell their stories, explain who they are to the world. Organizations hire us to help change their culture. To solve bigger problems. To articulate their values. To make them look the way they feel.
Kentucky Eagle is the top beverage distributor in central Kentucky, representing a portfolio of beer, spirits, wines, ciders, specialty beverages, and beer cheese. In early 2018 they hired us to create an internal campaign to help them celebrate their seventieth anniversary of being in business. But aside from honoring the history of the company, this campaign really needed to do something more – it needed to set the stage for who Kentucky Eagle is today.
First, we took an in-depth look into the history of the company. Seventy years is a long time. There was a lot to unearth. Kentucky Eagle was founded in 1948 by Mr. OA Bakhaus, who took a risk and relocated his family from Oklahoma to Lexington during the Great Depression. His passion, perseverance, and steadfast loyalty to always doing it “the right way” still lives on in the organization today, passed down through three generations of family leadership.
We immersed ourselves in their archives. We scanned in the original incorporation papers, signed by OA Bakhaus himself. We listened to stories from employees who have been with the organization for over 30 years. We asked how the organization has grown, evolved, adapted to the changing times. We learned that under the leadership of Ann Bakhaus (OA’s daughter) Kentucky Eagle diversified their portfolio, becoming a total beverage distributor. This meant that they could distribute more than domestic beer – they opened themselves up to partnerships with craft breweries, wine, and spirits.
Through our research, we realized that OA Bakhaus’ name and legacy are still central to the Kentucky Eagle brand today. We also learned that Kentucky Eagle always exists within the presence of the brands they represent. Their portfolio has grown; therefore they’ve outgrown their exclusive association with Anheuser-Busch. They needed a campaign that was reflective of this shift – something that transcended the popular brands they’ve been identified by previously.
To set the tone for who Kentucky Eagle is today, we had to learn about their current state. They recently underwent a leadership transition, with Tate Sherman (OA Bakhaus’ granddaughter) taking on the lead role as president of the company. They now have 160 employees.
We toured their 188,024 square foot LEED-Certified facility. We learned about the challenges they faced in the public eye, researching Kentucky’s three-tier system and recent distribution legislation and how craft beer is changing the market. We engaged with their employees and learned that they are from diverse backgrounds, but work side-by-side to get the job done the right way, every time. We embarked on ride-alongs with their delivery and sales teams, observing first-hand the complexities of their work. We conducted employee surveys, asking them to articulate what sets them apart from other distributors and why they choose to stay at Kentucky Eagle.
Through this, we learned that the employees at Kentucky Eagle take pride in what they do. They are bold and resilient, always looking to prove that they are the best in the industry.
We turned all of this research into a campaign that energized Kentucky Eagle’s identity. We delivered core values that resonate with their employees, trucks that caught people’s attention, fresh new apparel and trucks that all took center stage at their yearly summer picnic.
The campaign came and went. By their standards and ours, it was a huge success. We have had the pleasure of continuing our work with Kentucky Eagle since then. They, like many of our clients, looked to us asking “what’s next?” Together, we’ve built on the momentum from the 70th, embarking on a complete identity refresh that will serve them for years to come.
Their new identity was a natural progression from the 70th, carrying over both visual and verbal elements. The black and gold color palette. Bold typography. OA Bakhaus’ signature. The language from the campaign resonated with their employees – it gave them something to rally around. Phrases like “Every Damn Day.” and “Family-built. Locally-driven” were created as campaign taglines for trucks, but have now been adopted into their permanent language set.
What started as an anniversary campaign turned into a long-term partnership with Kentucky Eagle. We are proud of the work we’ve accomplished together, helping a strong company grow even stronger through a united voice and brand. What’s next for Kentucky Eagle? We’re excited to find out. But first, a happy hour is in order.