The CODE-X series catalogs a vast codex of source codes (aka “signs”) extracted from past audits.
Note that signs on their own, while sometimes interesting, only become truly revelatory and useful once they’re sorted into thematic complexes, and the complexes into codes, and the codes into a meaning map. We call this process “thick description”; the Code-X series is thin description.
“BEER FEAR” NORM: Brand positioning that is dark, menacing, dangerous — though in such an over-the-top way that it’s fun. Sends a signal that the experience of drinking this beer is intense, yet rewarding to precisely the same degree.
“BEER FEAR” FORMS: Rebellious imagery drawn from heavy metal music, fantasy, comics, sci-fi. Language that is dark, explosive, menacing: Invasion, On the Wings of Armageddon, Anti-Hero, Nitro, Palate Wrecker. Midwestern craft beers (e.g., Pipeworks Citra, Surly Brewing Darkness, Three Floyds Dark Lord) tend to push this code to its edgiest extremes.
From a 2015 audit of the Craft Beer category.