“At their best, craft beer labels are thoughtful and thought-provoking, catchy and beautiful — eloquent and imaginative translations of the complex liquids inside the can or bottle.
the design side of craft beer is influencing brewers and breweries, leading the beer’s style and intent at an early stage rather than the other way around. And canvass your friends: how much do their favorite beers correspond to their favorite labelling? (Answer: a lot.)
Though it runs parallel to the craft beer world, suckling its lifeblood and meaning from the water, malts, hops and yeast, the design behind beer is significantly less understood. It’s been less scrutinized too, and less enjoyed, than the liquid it represents and attempts to translate. Few questions are asked or pondered as to its significance for beer, or what it takes to produce the art and design for entire lines of suds, or even who’s doing it.
It has to stop traffic in the retail setting. It has to be noticed and be noticeable. The brewery brand has to be noticeable, you have to be able to read the whole name on the front of the can. The color has to stop traffic, and stand out next to competition, and you have to be able to see the style of beer clearly.
Like any competent packaging design, the design of a good craft beer label should be honest, in that it expresses the essence of the contents, the makers’ tastes, and maybe something about the designers. But a great craft beer label design is progressive, anti-formulaic, and it expresses a bespoke personality for each specific beer. The design doesn’t try to play chameleon to fit in with other beers by evoking nostalgia or another label’s appearance.” (Gear Patrol)
“Purple cow branding is the philosophy and practice of standing out from the monotony of others. Think about it — a purple cow among a pack of brown cows would certainly grab anyone’s attention!
Effective purple cow branding requires a specific audience: one that takes pride in the product and values quality over price. Craft beer consumers are an ideal example of such an audience. They’re completely receptive to designs that differ from the mainstream norm, whether funky or sleek. They also tend to be more educated than the general beer-guzzling public about what goes into the creation of their favorite brew, and what sets it part from others.
For instance, most beer drinkers may have heard the term “hops,” but they likely can’t tell you what hops actually are. So you won’t see depictions of hops on major beer company labels – buyers differentiate brands, not beer process or style. With craft beer labels, no branding rules apply.
Three key things to consider are beer styles, seasons, and events. These influence the entire brewing process starting from conception, and can play an important role in your label design. Rather than limit your creativity, taking advantage of these pairings can be a big help in the brainstorming process.
Neck label: Beer labeling isn’t limited to just the central real estate on a bottle. Odell Brewing’s neck label wrap, below left, demonstrates how a unique neck wrap based on beer style can help cement the brand identity of each recipe.
Cap: The cap is part of your branding and shouldn’t be forgotten – this is one area where craft brewers can learn a few tricks from the domestics.” (99 Designs)
“There have been more and more variations in the design, and it used to all be, like, very hand-drawn, maybe a little bit more, like, artistic-looking, and now you see more and more experimental variations of label art.”
“I am seeing a lot of illustration coming back in, which is nice. I enjoy that. They are almost taking it out of a package design, if you will, where it’s just like a big logo and some elements around it. A lot of craft breweries now are just stepping into a fantastic illustration. They’ll hire an artist, and they will use that illustration as most of the cover of their label. I am noticing that a lot more that people are kind of using like big illustrations versus just like a giant logo on the front of it”
“It seems that there are a lot of conventions and fashions that have been appropriated by the big brewers who are trying to cut into the craft market. Nostalgic woodcuts, Victorian clip art, grunge and “retro” typography being the obvious ones” (Gear Patrol)