TRU Colors

TRU Colors is a brewery that employs active gang members who are united to end street violence and bring peace to communities. Based out of Wilmington, North Carolina, their mission is "to brew beer, relationships, and shared stories that challenge people’s perceptions."

Hiring active gang members is paramount to TRU Colors’ mission of decreasing violence because unity can only be achieved through earned trust, influence, and opportunity. By remaining authentic to its urban roots, TRU Colors harnesses the hustling nature of gangs to spark personal and professional growth. The TRU Colors curriculum builds trust, challenges self-identity, and translates street skills into business skills.

With plans to launch into market in 2021 and expand their revolutionary business model to more cities struggling with gun violence, TRU Colors was ready for an identity to support their growth and vision.

To support TRU Colors is to believe that conversation can change communities.


TRU Colors bridges the local Black community and national consumers with a brand mission that impacts and resonates with us all. They aim to use their beer as a way to unite people from all backgrounds, leading with what they have in common and emphasizing the power that can be tapped when everyone comes together to stop violence and take back our communities.

TRU Colors leans into the areas of discomfort, pushing us past our perceptions and progressing us as a community with a unified purpose. They give a voice to hard topics, sparking honest conversations that drive social change. It’s hard work, but the beer helps.


Our Approach

TRU Colors' vision is a unique solution to an age-old problem: street violence in underserved communities. Economic opportunities uplift communities, allowing for every individual, no matter their circumstances, the opportunity to lead a prosperous life and live in peace.

With such an impactful mission, we needed to create an identity that conveyed TRU Colors’ vision to a broad audience of consumers, while simultaneously celebrating a great-tasting beer that competes in domestic and craft beer markets.

Their new identity had to engage the local Black community and resonate with customers across the country.


TRU Colors is dedicated to ending gang violence through great beer and unifying conversations. They needed an identity that would celebrate both their mission and product and appeal to a wide customer base.

Brand Strategy

TRU Colors is a company with a fully-integrated social mission. They're incredibly dedicated to their core values, which make up their name: truth, responsibility, and unity. We felt it was important to place their social mission and purpose at the center of the brand experience to build trust through a culture rooted in authenticity.

The TRU Colors team identified their brand attributes as urban, unified, and provocative. We began with a concept surrounding "Change the Narrative."

TRU Colors isn’t just about great tasting beer, but the way that beer can be a catalyst to a true dialogue. The brewery is a space in Wilmington where people can come together, learn, share values, and unite the community to take back the narrative. Solving gang violence is our shared responsibility and our united direction. What we share is bigger than anything that separates us from each other.

Tru mockup1

Early concepts

We began with a few variations of monogram lockups that included the TRU Colors’ "T" with the addition of a container that implied unity.



The TRU Colors’ mark is based on the acronym T.R.U., which stands for truth, responsibility, and unity. The abstract letters form the final unifying mark with the catalyst of beer represented in the middle (a drop). It symbolizes the opportunity to speak and the opportunity to learn; the declaration of a shared purpose.

TRU Colors’ logotype is based on the typeface Raw by Out of the Dark type foundry. It reflects the mark with its unapologetic acute angles and bold weight.

Tru mark1300 pattern
Tru word1300 blk

Visual Language

The visual language of TRU Colors' identity draws from historical references, urban environments, and purpose. The exploration began with a texture that is commonplace in any urban environment: spray paint, an element that is used to convey messages and change the visual landscape. Cut and altered established texts harken back to the central concept of “Change the Narrative.”

Black and gold were chosen as the primary brand colors because they fit well with the style and aesthetics of the audience (and avoided colors that could be associated with specific gangs). A heavy use of black and white, as well as photojournalism-style photography, draw inspiration from urban sports, music, and lifestyle.

Tru visuallanguage

Martin by Vocal Type Co. is inspired by remnants of the Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968. It was utilized on picketing signage and serves as TRU Colors’ lead display type. Grotesk style typefaces lend themselves to be no-nonsense, bold options for display type.

Tru memphis
Tru sanitationstrike
Tru typography

We began masking and playing with a pattern that could convey crossroads, or the merging of people, information, and ideas. TRU Colors Brewery sits at a crossroad, bridging literal sides of Wilmington.

It was important to have photography that is real and emotional. For that reason, we advocated for a photojournalistic style with a film graininess that adds authenticity.

Tru cansongray2

Initial can design

Tru visual


We worked with TRU Colors on their inaugural beer: TRU Light. By putting their logo at the forefront, we put the brand forward.

TRU Colors is ready to compete with America’s most popular beers, so we needed to carefully balance a design that would stand out but still resonate with mainstream audiences. We explored some more classic and nostalgic designs, but the final solution utilizes a unique lockup with the name written up the side and the mark vertically aligned to the right. The layout alone lends itself to developing its own signature style, unlike any other domestic beers on the market. Over time, this layout can build strong proprietorship.

Tru cansketches2
Tru showcase2

We fight against the odds every day to change perceptions — of ourselves and with others — and create unity to build a more prosperous and peaceful life for our families and our community.

TRU Colors
Tru beerworival

Read the next case study