The design of a brewery’s visual brand identity plays an extremely important role in the marketing and promotions of a brewery and its beer. The visual brand identity is all of the “seen” elements of a brand. In the case of a brewery, it’s things like a logo or word mark, packaging, labels, promo materials, merchandise, website etc.
If I say “Brooklyn Brewery,” is it the flavor of one of their many beers that pops into your mind first, or is it the iconic “B” logo designed by Milton Glaser that you see first in your mind’s eye? A brewery’s visual brand identity is a signifier in the mind of the beer drinker and an anchor that allows the drinker to find your beer when they seek it. A beer drinker may remember the name “Sixpoint” or they might just remember the distinctive packaging design, the colors they use, the proprietary star icon and so forth. If your brewery’s visual brand identity isn’t clear and consistent, it will make it more difficult for beer drinkers to find you again when they want you.
Think of all of a brewery’s touchpoints that involve the design of the visual brand identity; packaging, tap handles, website, promotional materials for distributors and sales reps which can include coasters, brochures, perhaps some in-store or in-bar signage and merchandising. Then you have your social media assets, you’ll definitely want some merch for your brewery like t-shirts, caps, koozies, stickers, posters, glassware and the like. You’ll need business cards for your team and advertisements to get the word out. It’s a lot! It makes crafting a clear and consistent visual brand identity all the more important.
Often times, though, a brewery may have their packaging designed by the packaging printer/producer, their tap handles designed by the tap handle manufacturer, their sales materials designed by the distributor & t-shirts, caps, koozies and the like designed by a promotional items company. And while the design of all these things from all these different sources may look good, piecemealing your brewery’s visual brand identity like this is hardly best practice for maintaining clarity and consistency. To achieve a clear and consistent visual brand identity for your brewery, partner with a branding and identity agency/studio who can craft and manage your brewery’s brand from top to bottom. This will lend a level of clarity and consistency to your brewery’s visual brand identity that is very difficult if not impossible to achieve when receiving visual design from 3 or 4 different sources.
This will also save you a lot of time in the revision process. Working through revisions with a single studio is significantly more efficient than running around with 3 or 4 different design agents, trying to make sure everything goes off ok. And when it comes time to produce your brewery’s visual design elements, the branding studio you’ve partnered with can work with the packaging producers, tap handle producers, distributor reps, promo material producers and so forth to ensure that your brewery’s visual brand identity is on point. They should act as the guardian of your brewery’s visual brand identity, stewarding the process so that you don’t have to, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your brewery (like beer production for one thing).
What to look for in a branding and identity studio for your brewery
1. Look for a partner, not just a vendor. You’ll want to build a long term relationship with the design studio so that they will know your brand intimately and know exactly how to produce each of your design deliverables. So look for designers who will invest in your brewery as much as you do. They’ll want to come see your brewery in person. They’ll want to meet with you face to face often. They’ll want to know your brewery inside and out and will do as much work as it takes to get there in order to craft the perfect visual brand identity.
2. Look for a studio whose portfolio of design work you like. Good design is good design. Even if you don’t see brewery after brewery in a studio’s portfolio, good design translates. So if you like a studio’s other work, even if it’s in other industries, they’ll be able to produce work for your brewery that you like.
3. Look for a studio that is familiar with the TTB rules and regs regarding labeling, packaging and advertising. Working with a studio that is familiar with the TTB manuals for beverage alcohol labeling and advertising will help ensure that mistakes aren’t made that will cost a brewery months of precious time getting their labels approved.
The visual brand identity of your brewery is very important for the beer drinker to recognize your brand. Make sure that it is clear, consistent and beautiful!