Great craft brewery branding idea: Huge light up sign atop City Lights Brewing


We have a lot of words on this site dedicated to the importance of marketing and branding. Going through that process can be tough work — what is this brand? How do we convey that in a logo?

All the answers aren’t complicated though. Often the home run idea is something simple. We present you one such simple home run.

A massive light up sign was turned on for the first time last week atop City Lights Brewing Co. It’s an iconic symbol to rep the name of the brewery, and it’s the perfect way to draw the eyes of weary travelers heading down I-94 in Milwaukee.

And to hear Corey Zetts, executive director of Menomonee Valley Partners, tell it, the City Lights Brewing sign sounds even way more significant than all of that and ties in a great nod to the historical significance of the location.

More than just a brewery sign

“The City Lights sign is a welcoming beacon for a revitalized Valley, literally and metaphorically shining a light on the transformed Menomonee Valley,” he said. “The Valley has embraced its industrial past while evolving to create a bright new future, in the same spirit that Robin and the City Lights team lovingly restored this former coal gasification plant as a state-of-the-art brewery. We couldn’t be more excited to have City Lights become one of the Valley’s iconic places.”

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The standout sign was installed high atop what’s known as the “Tower Building,” among a cluster of buildings that were designed and built by noted architect Alexander Eschweiler in 1902 for The Milwaukee Gas Co. to house its operations to convert coal to gas to light the city lights of Milwaukee.

In 2017, City Lights Brewing began operations in two of these iconic buildings located in Milwaukee’s resurgent Menomonee River Valley. The operations include a state-of-the-art 30 barrel brewhouse, canning line, logistics center, tasting room and beer garden. The letters for “City Lights” will be 3 feet, 9 inches tall, illuminated with white LED bulbs. The sign was manufactured and installed by Poblocki Sign Co.

All around, a pretty great case study in brewery branding.

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