Crafting a beer brand

Having recently embarked on creating a brand for a new craft beer brewery, we asked Claire Baldwin to analyse the craft brewing scene in 2019, what styles are currently trending, and what you can do to stand out from an ever-growing crowd.


If you’ve been in a pub, bar or microbrewery lately, you’ll have likely noticed a few eye-catching beer designs. With the rise of craft breweries both in the UK and worldwide, even the most local of pubs seems to be offering a marshmallow milk stout.

Choices, choices

Beer is so much more than just lager, bitter or ale, and the endless choices can be pretty baffling. What’s the difference between an India pale ale and an American pale ale? Do you want a hoppy or a malty beer? What exactly is a sour and why does it taste so … sour?!

You might think that choosing a beer has become as complicated as choosing a bottle of wine. And how do most people choose a bottle of wine when they don’t know anything about wine? They pick the one with the coolest label.


Recent craft beer branding trends

There’s no denying that craft beer branding has been getting more and more creative, from intricate label designs to weird and wonderful pun names. Let’s look at a few trends that might get some ideas brewing for your own brand.

Unique colours for each beer

Lots of breweries are opting for a standard design across their range, using bold splashes of colour to differentiate between the brews. This offers a clean but clear look and makes it easy for both drinkers and bartenders to grab the one they want.

Some examples include 1. Big Bend Brewing, 2. Hellbender Brewing, 3. Monument City Brewing, 4. New Sarum Brewing, 5. Fernson Brewing. Source:  CODO Design

Some examples include 1. Big Bend Brewing, 2. Hellbender Brewing, 3. Monument City Brewing, 4. New Sarum Brewing, 5. Fernson Brewing. Source: CODO Design

Minimalist designs

While lurid, eye-watering designs have grown in popularity, some breweries are starting to focus on sleek, modern designs that let the beers speak for themselves. Simple cans featuring little more than the brewery name and the type of beer give a sense of simplicity and sophistication that echo their contents. If everyone else is offering up designs that would make Jackson Pollock say “That’s a bit much,” stark white minimalism will make your brand stand out.

Some examples include 1. Be Right Beer Co, 2. House Beer, 3. Anderson Craft Ales, 4. Agder Bryggeri. Source:  CODO Design

Some examples include 1. Be Right Beer Co, 2. House Beer, 3. Anderson Craft Ales, 4. Agder Bryggeri. Source: CODO Design

Bold and black

Again, seemingly in direct response to the bright, cartoony designs that have become prevalent, we’re starting to see more dramatic black bottles and cans on the scene. Bold, black designs are always going to make a statement. Whether you’re looking for an edgy vibe, a no-nonsense approach or a feeling of luxury, black can be pretty versatile.

Some examples include 1. Beer Brothers, 2. WarPigs Brewing, 3. Lord Hobo Brewing, 4. And Union, 5. Carlsberg. Source:  Codo Design

Some examples include 1. Beer Brothers, 2. WarPigs Brewing, 3. Lord Hobo Brewing, 4. And Union, 5. Carlsberg. Source: Codo Design


So, how do you plan a craft beer brand?

 If you’re serious about creating a craft beer brand that will really stand out and be successful, there are lots of things to consider. We recommend taking a look at the amazing and in-depth guide from American design agency CODO. It’s pretty lengthy, so here are a few key takeaways.

What are your core values?

There are countless breweries out there. What makes yours different? What do you stand for? What are you proud of? Are you a traditional brand or a playful one?

Think about everything that’s important to you and your brand, and try to come up with a handful of values that will govern everything you do for both marketing and day-to-day business practices.

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Who do you want to buy your beer?

Like any business, you need to think about your target audience. Your brand will be heavily associated with its drinkers, so make sure that your name, packaging and marketing aim in the right direction. If you see yourself as a classy, sophisticated beverage for the older gentleman, you’ll attract a different crowd altogether if your cans are decorated in a playful, comic-book style.

What is your brand tone of voice?

Tone of voice is something that ties together all of your other decisions. Is your brew light and playful? Maybe your name and branding should follow suit. Another consideration is the names of your individual beers. Create a theme or opt for something wacky and memorable, and your customers will be able to recognise your beer from the name alone.

Yardarm Brewery branding by DWH Design

Yardarm Brewery branding by DWH Design

How do you convey your core values and tone of voice through design?

This is a hard task, and something that will require many meetings (ugh!), a handful of dodgy sketches and at least one trip back to the drawing board. For some brands, the task may be easier than others, so if you’ve got a gimmick or a local connection, run with it! For example, Nottingham’s Magpie Brewery has a range of ten seasonal beers that follow the traditional rhyme “One for Sorrow”. Of course, if you’re struggling, it’s worth contacting a branding agency to hash out a few ideas with you.

Yardarm Brewery pint glass and Belgian Brigantine can concept

Yardarm Brewery pint glass and Belgian Brigantine can concept


Some examples of great beer branding

It would be a bit weird if we didn’t look at a couple of examples of branding, right? Crack open a cold one and let’s get stuck in.

Beavertown

Beavertown is a London-based brewery that has become well known for its colourful can artwork.

Channeling something between a sci-fi B-movie and a post-apocalyptic nightmare, Beavertown’s cans are so unique that they tempt people to buy them just to get a better look. While each beer has its own bespoke illustration, the consistency of the design layout and art style makes them instantly recognisable.

This styling is naturally more appealing to some demographics than others, but if Beavertown is looking for a younger audience that loves cult movies and comics then they’re probably spot on.

Brewdog

Scottish-based beer brand Brewdog (try saying that five times after a few cans!) have made their mark on the craft beer scene with brightly coloured branding, quirky names, and a simple but memorable logo.

Brewdog employ a bold yet clean look to their bottles and cans, using a different eye-catching colour to differentiate each of their brews. The vertical text allows for large, bold letters that are legible from across the bar, and the familiar dog crest makes them easy to spot for Brewdog fans.

Source:  Brewdog

Source: Brewdog

This fairly minimalist design means that branding up a newly crafted beer is a simple task, with no need to commission extravagant artwork and no fear that it won’t be recognised amongst the ranks.


A quality beer deserves a great brand

We know how important branding is, and how hard it can be to turn your values and abstract ideas into an actual brand. Working with DWH will allow you to benefit from years of expertise while still having creative input in the brand you’ve built. 

Get in touch with us to find out more about working with us to craft your beer brand—and if we have to taste a few samples to get the feel for your brand, I’m sure we can be persuaded!

Concept designs for Yardarm Brewery packaging

Concept designs for Yardarm Brewery packaging


ABOUT DWH

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We help lots of clients to achieve their marketing, design, product and branding goals. With years of experience, we can offer a full range of creative design and marketing expertise. We've worked for a wide range of clients from start-ups and charities to public sector and FTSE 100 companies.

Drop us a line - we’re approachable, friendly, professional and are more than happy to meet for a chat to see if we can help you.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Claire has over 10 years' copywriting experience across a range of print and digital media, working with a variety of styles, formats and tones of voice. She has written as part of an in-house team client side, as well as at marketing agencies based in the East Midlands. Claire's services include copywriting, copy editing, content creation and proofreading.