As seen in the 2016 Nielsen Craft Beer Audit, package design has never mattered more than in the saturated beer market of today. The report stated that 70 percent of craft beer buyers select their beer on shelf, not prior. That makes your packaging worth as much as your entire brewing system because you can brew great beer, but if 70 percent of people don’t choose it on the shelf, you might not be open long.
Design will provide a direct ROI by attracting craft beer drinkers to your brand. It is valuable — it is the only thing distinguishing you from the pack, on-shelf. From there, it’s up to you to make damn good beer.
Design obviously matters, so what should I look for in a designer?
Investing in quality up front will save you money down the road. This is as true with equipment as it is with design. Who wants to invest in cheap tanks, only to buy new ones a year later when you figure out they aren’t getting the job done? Once you start down the road of branding, you are investing in more than just your identity (logo), you have now introduced yourself to the public with this brand, have likely put it on your packaging and all over your tap room and online. You have built your entire business around it.
What if, a year later, you find out that the great deal you got on a logo was from a designer who didn’t know or research the beer industry and ripped off a competitor’s design? Now you have to replace all your packaging and go through a redesign. Or maybe you did not infringe on someone else’s design, but the money you saved on your carrier design isn’t helping it sell on shelf.
Rebranding can be a painful process and a huge investment, especially after you have already generated a following for your brewery. A redesign in your first years as a start-up will cost you more than having invested in quality at the outset. Hiring a professional immersed in your industry can save you time and money down the road (even legal fees), from selecting a unique name, to designing a unique brand and positioning you well in the market. Design sells, so invest in quality the first time.
Pick up my beer
Based on the aforementioned 2016 Nielsen Craft Beer Audit, drawing the consumer into an idyllic scene can be effective, as seen with the Kona packaging, the favorite overall. The Top 3 most liked all included illustration as a part of the design. Illustration can introduce a human element to an otherwise cold design, integrating the artisan craft of creating the beer with the hand-illustration done by the artist. This means hiring a designer who can also illustrate, or hiring a multi-disciplinary firm or studio, as the layout matters as much as the drawing.
It also breaks down the carrier design as the most important selling point, followed closely by the beer’s origins, then logo/brand name, then color scheme. To explore which carrier designs sell best, jog over here. To check out the hottest design in packaging right now, visit these resources: The Dieline and Oh Beautiful Beer.
Written by the team at Watermark Design, a nationally-recognized branding and design studio. Watermark has been marrying design + craft beer since 2010, creating award-winning brands and package design for their clients’ breweries. Their love of beer + storytelling through design collide into some amazing collaborations. They are passionate about their craft, if you are passionate about yours, give them a call.