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Brewing a successful branding strategy for craft breweries

By March 17, 2017Uncategorized

There’s no arguing that craft breweries are taking the beer industry by storm! Small and independent craft brewers now represent 12 percent market share of the overall beer industry, according to data from The Brewers Association. Retail dollar value was also estimated at $22.3 billion, representing 21 percent market share. Craft beer lovers are looking for memorable design elements that goes beyond the frothy brew in the pint glass. The cycle to impress starts with strong online and social presence, followed by a personality-focused branding and finally a palate pleasing product.

So what are the main ingredients that are stirring up this industry’s rapid rise to success? Our creative pros (and fellow beer lovers) are dishing on their favorite craft beer brands and why they work.

Megan Haggerty, Videographer/Photography

My choice is Whitetooth Brewing Company! I like their slogan of “Beers to toast your ultimate moments” and how outdoor adventure ties their whole brand together – name, logo, labels, beer descriptions. I also love their labels, which remind me of vintage National Park posters with each highlighting an outdoor activity and coinciding beer names (Blower Pow, Threading the Needle, etc.).

Susan Green, Creative Director

This is a common topic in our house, because my husband is a real beer connoisseur and is always bringing home something new. The craft brew market is just so fun and creative so I geek out over the branding. I have a lot of favorites, so I am going to stick to some of the most memorable ones for me.

Brewery Ommegang is near and dear to my heart from Cooperstown! I love how their branding plays on the Traditional Belgian imagery but with a fun contemporary approach.

Rare Form Brewing Company is again near and dear to my heart in Troy! I saw them at a beer festival, plus my husband is a fan and you just don’t forget their logo. First of all, it has this 70s vibe with block letter and negative space. It just stands out. Then, they use this natural wood grain as a backdrop to their look which gives them this earthy-modern feeling. I’m a fan!

Evil Twin Brewing is a loveable brand, especially if you are a designer. The name of their brews are like no other, like “Don No”, that are very memorable on their own. They also use a lot of glorious whitespace. (oh whitespace, how I love you). Their labels have this minimal look but with a really strong, geometric forms. It’s art!

Jonathan Blankenberg, Web Developer

Delerium Tremens
is one of my favorite beers because of the taste but I also love how well the concepts in their bottle labels match their brand name. I especially love that the bottles are not glass, but ceramic. It really makes the whole experience of drinking their beers unique.
Morgan Behnke, Graphic Designer

Innis & Gunn’s branding is my pick. These people throw the kitchen sink at their artwork in the most classically beautiful way possible. Hot stamp, embossing, debossing, letterpress, spot gloss— you name it.

The lion’s share of their work is reminiscent of vintage Sanborn Insurance Maps and leans on stylized typography to make the statement instead of imagery, which is why I find Innis & Gunn so appealing. And, on top of it all they emboss their bottles with their name and logo. Total design envy.

Alyssa Roehrenbeck, Copywriter

The rebel spirit of the beers out in Oregon has lead to a lot of grassroots branding, something a best friend drew that suddenly becomes the logo, which evolves over time, but never loses its original character. The classic example out here is Rogue Brewery. Their labels are unique and I have seen many people buy the beers solely based on the artwork and branding on the outside.

In Oregon, there are also certain logos that are memorable because they are so closely associated to the experience of visiting the brewery. It is common, if you see someone flaunting some swag like a hat or t-shirt,  to start a conversation about your trip to the brewery or your favorite beer. Two great examples are Crux Fermentation Project and Boneyard Beer Company. Both are iconic in the experience of going to the brewery, Crux is large, beautiful, with hops growing on property, fabulous food and a fire pit no one will forget. It celebrates Bend, OR (a beer destination, Bend Ale Trail) to the max. Boneyard Brewing Company (also in Bend) is the opposite in style, it is a tiny, industrial space, akin to a walk in closet. It is gritty, punky, and makes all the good kids feel like they are living on the edge.

Veronica Pokorny, Office Manager

I’m a big fan of ciders! I searched for eye-catching design and Neige was my favorite. I love how the snowflakes pattern is not only beautiful. It is simple and elegant.

Jennifer Tesiero, Art Director

BRU Citrum

I like BRU Handbuilt Ales & Eats because their labels breaks the rules. We see labels all of the time in different shapes but this one is really asymmetrical which I love. I also like that the company is called BRU Handbuilt, and they use that word handbuilt literally.

Karen Posada, Web Developer

newburgh brewing companyHi! I liked Newburgh Brewing Company’s packaging. Even though I’m not a beer drinker, I think it’s pretty awesome.

Megan Wagner, Marketing Strategist

Three Floyds Brewing Co. in Munster, Indiana (just outside of Chicago) takes my top prize for super unique branding. Their hand-drawn design work is like nothing I’ve ever seen and is almost like a homage to the psychedelic 60s era with a twist of the dark side. But equally as impressive as their artwork, is way they creatively name their beers. A few of my favs are Alpha Klaus, Gumballhead, Toxic Maltz, Hank on Rye, Zombie Dust and Weiner Art. They tell you absolutely nothing about what kind of beer you’re drinking but it makes it really simple to remember the beers you loved. Another fun fact is that their IPA’s are some of the best in the country!

Although this list of favorite beer brands is really diverse, there’s a single common thread that makes a beer memorable. A beer brand’s personality and clever uniqueness needs to shine through design and copy to get beer fanatics intrigued enough to try their craft-brewed barley pop. Do you have a favorite beer brand?

Paperkite Creative specializes in branding, design and creative copy (plus, if you haven’t noticed we LOVE our craft beer). If you’re looking for a fresh look, give us a call and our creative pros will build your craft brewery or distillery a toast-worth brand (and also happily volunteer to taste-test).