You are a brewer and every beer lover knows that your product is much better than any lifeless mass-market brand. If your current audience is not so large at the moment, then you should think about expanding it. All of your relatives and friends are already fans of your beer, but how to make it attractive for random people? Those that have no idea how delicious it is? We believe that a cool brand label is something you need.
Craft beer is extremely popular these days. Small brewers give the audience something that no “big brand” does: warm-heartedness. They can easily handle competition and even outmatch the popular mass products. The problem of small brewers like you is that they are usually not very skilled in marketing and design. In this article, we will try to fill this gap.
Before you start making a label
This might sound like some kind of a Buddhist proverb, but the first thing you need is to know yourself. No, you don’t need to start a sheltered life somewhere in the Tibetan mountains and meditate 20 hours per day to create a beer label. However, you need to know the line to follow.
- Know what you offer
First of all, you need to know what exactly you sell. What kind of beer is that? Do you sell lager, stout, or ale? What makes it different from thousands of other beers? Why people should try your homebrew beer? If you have any “wow” features in your brand, then you should definitely include them in your marketing strategy and label design in particular.
- Know your target audience
Second, think about your customers. Who are those people? What social group do you work with? There is no need to please everyone – it is impossible. What is more, you risk missing the personality of your brand this way. The broader a brand image is, the harder it is to identify oneself with it. As a result, you fail to reach a wide audience as well as the small one. Instead of chasing a rainbow, you’d better focus on a narrow group of people united by the same interests, life attitudes, and needs. Are you aiming at youngsters, who buy beer to have fun and point out their style? Or maybe you aim at successful office workers, who attend jazz festivals to relax and have a drink of good beer? Think about it! You should consider the profitability element as well, which means that making your brand too local is not an option as well.
- Know-how and where your clients buy products
Third, you need to know how your customers buy beer. Do they prefer draught beer markets, trendy bars, online shops, or local supermarkets? What are the amounts they usually buy (whole packages or a couple of bottles)? Do they drink occasionally or regularly? Your label, as well as an entire marketing strategy, will depend on this point heavily.
As you can see, a brand is not a straightforward and simple thing. It contains details and layers, which should be tied together into your label. The label is something that provides communication between you and your audience, so you should perceive it as a visual statement. What do you want to tell your customers about your product? What does it mean to you? What does it mean to them? What can you tell them about themselves? One of the crucial branding strategies is meeting the customers’ image of themselves. Your task is to figure that image out and return it to them in an appealing form.
Some tips on label design
- Color as the first capturing element
Colors are crucial for branding because they communicate with your audience from the first glance. Colors evoke emotions and associations. What is more, they make your bottles recognizable. Traditionally, beer bottles are green or brown. From a practical point of view, they are the same, so the choice is aesthetical. Both green and brown glass protects beer from the sunlight, keeping it fresh and safe from any harmful processes that may occur in the liquid.
There are common color sets for both types of glass: white, red, golden, and orange. As a rule, green bottles use white labels with red and golden elements or letters. At the same time, brown bottles usually use warm colors, like yellow, red, orange, etc. Choosing a common palette, you make people feel comfortable about the product they buy. Familiar colors make them think automatically that this item can be trusted because they already know it. It doesn’t mean that you have to choose this option, but you should know how it works.
However, modern designers don’t care about traditions too much. Well, right they are – we are talking about craft beer, right? They don’t stop on these palettes and homebrew labels usually choose different color schemes to stand out from the crowd and refuse from traditional outlook. Some of them prefer contrasting colors, the others choose cold shades, still, others prefer some unusual decisions. The choice depends on the style of the label and your brand image.
- Standard shape VS custom
Standard label shapes are boring, but if you want something custom-made, then prepare that the printing price will be higher. You can choose a transparent, one-piece, or die-cut sticker if your budget allows. Consider the bottle shape and size as well!
- The most interesting part: imagery
The imagery part will include a sign and a picture (optional). Make sure that the font is readable and recognizable. Letters are no less important and communicative than images and colors, so make sure that different visual elements work well together and supplement each other.
Traditional beer brands follow the same rule when it comes to imagery: they locate a relatively large sign, some textures, and a logo of the company or some image, usually abstract. Today’s craft beer producers don’t limit themselves anyhow, that’s why your craziest ideas won’t look weird on the supermarket shelf or in a bar. From geometrical minimalism to childish cartoons, from psychedelic patterns to real artworks, the experiments with labels are endless. No matter what you choose, try to present something that makes your brand different. Do you use any special brewing method or unusual ingredients? Have you invented a funny character that relates to the story of your brand? Show them! People would love to know more about your approaches, secret technologies, ideals, and ideas.
Cheap and simple ways to create a label
- Hand-made labels
Image source: straighttothepint.com
The cheapest way to create a label for your craft beer bottle is to make one with your hands. There are obvious pros and cons of this method. The good thing is that hand-made labels are extremely attractive – it is hard to overlook them when they are placed near printed labels. You can make them as simple and minimalistic as the one you can see in the picture above. The signs and logos can be printed on your home printer or even written out by hand. Such labels look stylish, communicate with buyers, and give a strong sense of brand personality. Holding a bottle that has a hand-written label is really awesome – customers value that level of attention.
However, there are minuses as well. First, expect handmade labels to get spoiled in a fridge. If you use craft paper or cardboard, the condensate will make it look not so great. Second, if your production is massive, then you need to be a crazy enthusiast to create such an amount of labels yourself.
- Create a label online
Image source: spark.adobe.com
There are online label creators and one of the most popular is an Adobe product known as Spark Adobe. This tool is extremely easy to use and you don’t need any design skills to create a label with its help. The application allows you to choose a basic professionally-done label from the wide list. Then you can customize it to your liking. Shapes, colors, size, and visual elements can be adjusted to make it more personalized. The number of customization options is limited to your imagination only.
Image source: template.net
There are more resources that can help you design a good-looking logo for cheap or even for free. Most of them have a basic toolkit for designing as well as for pre-printing. The last stage is no less important than the creation itself. If you fail to prepare your image properly, then all of your hard work will be in vain. You risk getting the wrong colors, cropped sides, inaccurate sizes, etc. Make sure that you do everything neatly and save your image in the correct format.
Check the resource called DesignCrowd. There you will find not only designers, ready to work on various projects, but also a collection of samples to use. There are more great resources like StcikerGiant (a place, where you can find sticker templates of all shapes and colors); Sticker Mule (again, thousands of stickers available); Online Labels (a free sticker collection as well).
- Standard stickers
Image source: beerclings.com
Most homebrewers prefer to spend time on making beer. If you are not very bothered about the label originality and want to save money – you should try Beer Clings. These are standard sticker packs, not very original, but extremely practical. The stickers are beer-themed: all kinds of barrels and bearded men are at your service. They are reusable and can stand the tough conditions like cold and condensation and can be removed easily with one move of a finger. The website provides a pretty large collection of ready-made sample stickers, which are customizable. This is a pretty affordable solution – the price is low, while the stickers can be used for a number of times.
- Chalkboard labels
Image source: wordpress.com
If you plan to distribute your delicious beer to some hipsterish bar, then there is no better option than a chalkboard label. They look fancy, they are cheap, and they make your brand recognizable. This is especially a great option for those brewers, who produce a new series of beer regularly – you won’t have to design and print new labels each time. Still, your product will look stylish. Some users claim that regular chalk doesn’t work good for these stickers, so get yourself a high-quality chalk pen if you choose this design option.
- Hire a freelance designer
Figure Image source: 99designs.com
The previous “do-it-yourself” options seem to be perfect for a small home-based brand. However, if you are serious about branding, the time has come to hire a skilled designer. There are various agencies, where you can find one, but this decision might be very costly. To cut the expenses, you can find a freelancer or a beginner, who looks for an opportunity to create a portfolio. The beginners gladly accept low-paid projects from real customers, so you will easily find a volunteer. And what is more – there are talented people among them. Ask for the samples of works before you make an arrangement and see if the designer’s style fits your brand image.
As you can see, there are so many things to consider, when creating a label for your home-made beer. While craft beer is something that is opposed to the mass market, the brands should strive to uniqueness. Now you know that keeping your label cheap and professionally-looking is possible. There are numerous online tools and apps, where you can get endless templates that can be changed and adjusted the way you want. Also, you can create a handmade version of your label or try reusable stickers. Hiring a young designer is an option as well – you have a chance to get a really original image and your employee will add a nice project to his/her portfolio. No matter what option you choose, remember that the success of your brewing brand depends on the quality of beer you craft. The described marketing ideas will help the world know about it.
Sandra Larson is a writer and marketer. The main field of her interest is branding. Currently, she writes blog posts, guest posts, and research articles for essayontime.com.au. Sandra studies the cases of successful companies to learn more about correlations between the market identity and the way the brand represents it.