All hail the ale

Posted: 31/10/2018

Author: Fishtank

October is coming to a quick end – don’t they all – and the last late Oktoberfest parties were hurriedly thrown last weekend, squeezing in just before Halloween. The end of this month is therefore a perfect occasion to share our thoughts on the beer industry and the marketing around it. Our Digital Marketing Executive Hayley – an avid beer drinker herself, passionate about ales – takes a close look at the beautiful romance of design and hops.

As an agency we have designed, developed and created many campaigns for our clients in the hospitality and food & drink industry. Whilst we all love an occasional beer, it’s the creativity, quirkiness and trendiness of the beer industry that really drove us to get more involved with breweries in Yorkshire. Beer sales keep rising for the companies that dare to go wild using striking artwork on their cans/bottles and as more beer companies are catching onto this trend, trying to stand out on the shelves, it is more important than ever to get creative.

Our research suggests that beer drinkers like to try brands with bold and interesting packaging as they are believed to be the most interesting in flavour. With craft beer being a delicious and expensive hobby, consumers feel more compelled to buy a more pricey IPA over the standard lager if it’s more visually intriguing; it can even become a social brand experience when, e.g. it’s proudly shared on consumers’ Instagram story.

When start-up brewery, Twisted Angel came to us with a brief to update their brewery labels, our Senior Graphic Designer, Joe Savery jumped at the opportunity. Twisted Angel didn’t want to follow a traditional style of branding; they had a clear vision and wanted to develop predominantly stronger ABV beers with the emphasis on creating quality, flavoursome craft beers and lagers that stand out not only in a pub but also on a fridge shelf. We provided Twisted Angel with eye-catching designs that are instantly recognisable, whether it be a pump clip on a bar or a poster hanging on someone’s wall, transforming the concept designs into a viable, strong toolkit that Twisted Angel can be proud to showcase. The creative work we produced for Twisted Angel has been recognised and has been nominated for the Creative Impact Award at the Huddersfield Examiner Business Awards.

We have looked into different campaigns in the industry, to see what is capturing people’s attention. What did we discover?…

One of the first things we found is that creating a powerful design, symbol or pattern often makes the brand instantly recognisablewithout the need to showcase the name or logo of the brewery prominently. Take a look at some of our favourite can designs below:

  • Omnipollo Breweries have released some of the most extravagant beers on the market and they certainly need an extravagant can design to match, which they have achieved by working with artist Karl Grandin, whose work was displayed at the Kuvva Gallery in Amsterdam; “In this way, rather than creating a prepackaged world to be consumed, the works create a surreal atmosphere in need of translation, into which the viewer is plunged. The metaphor that springs to mind with Grandin’s artistic approach in this show is that of the rebus, but perhaps a more accurate comparison would be to a Rubik’s cube — a series of apparently disparate elements that come together with a bit of disentangling; and impression that crystallizes only through viewer participation.” Link
  • Magic Rock Brewery have recently redesigned their core can designs to give themselves a refreshed look and compete with the industry’s best. They have updated their identifiable cartoon character designs to a pattern based look. But why? “There is so much fantastic artwork in beer now that we felt it was time for a slightly bolder look which would stand out a bit more on the shelves / in the fridges” Magic Rock. Link
  • Cloudwater Brewery are famous for commissioning an artist every six months to produce a series of pieces which feature on their cans. By working with artists, the brand can ensure their cans get a refreshed, unique look every six months but still be identifiable by customers for their bold and beautiful designs. A personal favourite was the ‘Welcome To Rainy City’ IPA, collaboration with Track Brewing Co, Runaway Brewery and Wander Beyond Brewing. Link
  • North Brewing Co were recognised for their branding last year by being nominated for the Best Branding and Design award athe the Beer and Cider Marketing Awards 2017. The work of James Ockelford ensured North Brewing Co were recognised for their creativity. James states; “The design of beer packaging should reflect this positive attitude – but they must work commercially so the best intentions of the designer do not sabotage the business. Obviously, profit is required to keep the best breweries open – keep good people in work and good beer in fridges.” Link
  • Mikkeller Breweries formidable can designs are the work of artist Keith Shore, who’s designs are focussed on the illustrations of the recognisable Mikkeller characters. Shore’s cartoony can designs ensure the Mikkeller brand is instantly identifiable by its customers. Link

With breweries all over the world going wild on the design front, this has had a knock on effect with the supermarket brands who inevitably want to keep up with trendy craft breweries. Supermarket giant, Lidl, launched six new brews in July, adding to its own-label craft beer range, Hatherwood Craft Beer Company The label designs feature a ‘shipwrecked’ theme, designed to stand out at the supermarkets store shelves. Link

Much like rebrands at major corporations or trendy tech companies,, beer can designs can be portrayed as a breweries’ form of rebranding, put in place to remain relevant, fresh and exciting.

We absolutely love working with breweries. If you need a helping hand with your can designs or want some assistance with your social channels to promote your unique products, get in touch at or call us on 01924 489 926.

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