There I was. A Friday afternoon in the supermarket. With some delicacies already in my shopping basket, I ended up at the ‘Beer’ aisle. In the Netherlands nowadays dubbed the ‘craft beer’ aisle. Okay, you can still find some ‘normal’ lagers. But let’s be honest, the craft beers are way more interesting. I walk past the many rows of brightly colored cans and illustrated bottles, that look as if they come directly from a fashion factory. A whole aisle full of them.
And then you have to choose. This beer choice battle is a relatively new phenomenon. Choosing was a lot easier in the past. Sure, there was always a range of choice, but it simply came down to choosing between green (Heineken) or red (Amstel) crates of beer. The beer companies were big. Strong brands. Huge marketing budgets. But brewing craft beer is booming. Small and independent breweries are popping up everywhere. I think this is good news for beer enthusiasts, but it makes choosing a beer increasingly complex. It is the challenge we face today. A modern luxury challenge. Which one do we choose? With so much choice at our disposal, the importance of a well-designed can or label has become more important than ever.
Beer magazine Cana wrote: “beer cans are officially the new record covers”. While the major beer brands are engaged in brand recognition and consistency, craft breweries have embraced a more experimental approach. When I look at the shelves, they distinguish themselves with labels designed to stand out. In addition to the quality of the beer itself, the design of the product has become almost as (if not more) important. A good label makes the difference. Especially considering that many beer lovers make their choice while they’re in the store. A choice based on design instead of brand preference. That’s how I choose my beer nowadays. And if I look at the people shopping for beer, I see and hear that I’m certainly not the only one.
Design has become so important that creative agencies are created that specialize in designing identities for breweries. What an amazing niche! Where the label used to be for recognition, it has now become a strategic brand component. A representation of the ideas that hold the beer brand together. The concept behind it. The story that the brewery wants to tell. A strong and striking label or can as part of the strategy. An attracting people into buying. Instagram-worthy beer designs instead of award winning design and marketing campaigns. From now on we drink with our eyes.
What’s your favorite beer design?