Judging a beer by its label
Good beers and good books have more in common than you’d think: they’re great to crack open, they make you happy, and we’re not supposed to judge them by their covers… rather, labels… Whatever it is that we’re consuming, whether it’s that new Murakami, a state of the art bahn mi, or the latest and greatest IPA, we ingest everything with our eyes first. And while you might have a killer home brew gurgling away in your garage, if you don’t find the right label for it, no one’s going to take you or your beer seriously. Your beer label is the first point of contact your brew is going to have with your consumer – so it had better be a good one.
Beer labels brew nostalgia
You might just be starting out brewing your own craft beer, or you may be a home brew veteran who’s ready to play in the big beer leagues – in both cases we know you care about what your drinkers think of your brew when they see it. We have long and complex relationships with the breweries we’ve known in our younger days. Maybe Tui was the first beer you stole out of your old man’s beer fridge? Even a glimpse of an old label can stir up a web of memories, opinions and emotions, not to mention prejudices.
Consider the American brew ‘Budweiser’. What do you think of when you see that label? Watered down commercial, mainstream beer that you wouldn’t give to your worst enemy?! A beer’s label is going to have a major influence on the perceived quality of the craft beer inside that bottle so you’re going to want to spend as much time on crafting the perfect label as you spend on crafting the beer of your dreams.
The label on your craft beer is the calling card for your brand. In fact, you can go so far as seeing it as your beer’s personality. When you consider how much patience, time, love and passion you’ve put into perfecting that brew that you’re ready to share with the world, you owe it yourself and your beer to make that label entice your drinkers.
The craft beer market has exploded in New Zealand over the last few years, surely you’ve noticed! There are literally dozens of incredible brews on offer in your local bottle shop – so if you mean business about your beer, you’d better put some time and effort into the label. The main points of consideration are:
Each of these is going to help you signal the unique personality of your beer, just the way they would a fashion label. Choosing the right font to go with the on point colour and the eye-popping art design isn’t as easy as it may seem. You’re branding your beer and your brand is not something you want to mess around with. It’s something you’ve got to get right the first time around because your brand is more than just your packaging – a strong beer label communicates your company’s values.
Choosing the right label
It’s so great to have so much excellent beer available in New Zealand – but how are consumers choosing which beer to take home? As creatures of habit, we make our decisions based on feelings. For example, if you’re standing in front of two excellent stouts that are in the same price range, you’re going to go for the one with the brewery you’re familiar with. Beer barons make their millions from their consumers’ loyalty to the brand. Take companies like Monteith’s, Speights, and Macs – in the face of dozens of new beer brands, they’re still major players because they’ve been around a long time and everyone knows their label. Conservative drinkers will be more inclined to go with the devil they know than risk spending money on a new brand.
As craft beer has been elevated to superstar status in the drinking world, the significance of branding has taken centre stage as well. It’s the hottest growing market and this rapid growth makes for some fierce competition. The increase in craft breweries over the last few years is causing quite the dilemma. How can brewers find a way to stand out on crowded shelves heaving under the weight of these new brews? Even more important: how can your small brewery make your brand stick out when you’re up against the big breweries that have hundreds of thousands of dollars available for their design and marketing? Despite having a limited advertising budget, crafty craft brewers know that strong branding and eye catching packaging design is their biggest asset. This new generation of beer drinkers is looking for a certain ‘je-ne-sais-quoi’ in the brands they purchase, a depth of character, something unique and titillating. Brewers who understand the importance of their packaging are the ones who will survive the fray.
You’re selling your beer, but you’re also selling a story, and there’s a narrative behind every beer label. How many of the beers have you tried in the beer fridge at your local grocery store? The beer you turn to is the one you connect with. Maybe you’re into fishing so you go for Ballast Point. You might be a bit of a Wellington beer connoisseur, so the Garage Project cans are right up your alley. A good brewery keeps a visual consistency within its entire range of beers – like Garage Project or Panhead. The labels change colour or art work, but they never lose sight of the brand’s story. What you want is to have your label connect with your consumers on a personal level making them feel your authenticity. The right packaging will have a positive psychological effect on consumers to the point that they’ll even think your beer tastes better because it looks so good.
Crafting your label is one of the best parts of trying to get your beer onto the market, (besides all the taste tests, amiright?). This is your chance to have fun, and go a little crazy. You’ve got the chance to stand out, to disrupt the status quo and make a really artistic beer here. Large branding campaigns are stagnant, despite the incredible history and nostalgia they hold. Even some wineries are getting on board with creative label design – and we say the more the merrier.
Make your label stand out from the crowd
Craft beer consumers take pride in the product they buy, and much more interested in the quality of a brew rather than the quantity or the price. These dudes and ladies are receptive to the designs that stand out from industry norms: funky, sleek, minimal or crazy – there’s a consumer for whatever style you’re going for.
When it comes to crafting craft beer labels, there are no rules. Remember: your brand isn’t just the graphic element of your label, but it’s the experience of that logo combined with your colour scheme, and goes through to the entire customer experience. How you answer your phone affects your brand. How you run your social media will affect your brand. It’s vital that you have a plan to create a solid brand experience, because your beer is about more than the delicious hops you’ve got in there. You’re selling the experience and you’re starting with your beer label. And here are the top reasons why:
Your beer label promotes recognition
People tend to do business with companies they’re familiar with. If your branding is strong, consistent and easy to recognise, it will help people feel more at ease purchasing your products or services. This helps to build loyalty over time, which is what you need if you plan on being in the game for a long time.
Your beer label helps set you apart from the competition
In today’s fiercely competitive global market, it’s critical for you and your beer to stand apart from the crowd. Your brewery is competing in the global economy, against brewers and breweries who’ve been around for hella long time. How do you stand out from the thousands or millions of similar organisations around the world without a strong beer label?
Your beer label tells your consumers about your company
Your full brand experience from the logo to the way your staff interact with customers, tell your brewery’s story. So, what’s the narrative here? How do you want your story to be told? Be clear – you’ve only got one shot
Your beer label gives your company direction
A clear brand strategy provides the vision that your staff needs to be successful. It tells them how to act, how to win, and how to make the best damn beer out there.
Your beer label gets you new customers
People love to tell others about the brands they like, right? We wear brands, we eat brands, we listen to brands, and we’re constantly telling others about the brands we love. But guess what, mate? You can’t tell someone about a beer you can’t remember, no matter how good it tastes! A strong brand is critical to generating new customers because it makes you worth remembering.
Your beer label represents you and your beer
Your staff is the brand. Your great tasting beer is the brand. Your label is your promise to the customer – so what is it that you’re offering that the other brewers don’t?
Your beer label connects you with your customers emotionally
A good beer label connects with people on a deeply emotional level, making them feel good when they buy your beer.
Your beer may be good, but it’s only going to be as good as your brand. Once you’re clear on what your brand is you’ll be able to build loyalty among your customer base, leading to increased sales and a bigger and better brewery. Of course, if you’re a brewer you can’t also be a designer, so if you need assistance in identifying your brand, we can help you with the process, putting the final touches on your visual identity elements. Give us a ring if you’re looking for ideas. We’re passionate about beer and design and we’d love to help you tell your beer’s story.
- Trends in craft beer labelling https://www.label.co.nz/2015/03/trends-craft-beer-labelling/
- The Bledisloe Cup of NZ Beer http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/who-will-win-the-bledisloe-cup-of-beer-2015082908#axzz3lkkV4dvw