And this feeling of community is an important sales booster: 80% of consumers consider themselves loyal to a brand after just three to five buys and a 5% boost in consumer retention can increase revenue up to 95%!
One bulletproof way to ensure optimal buyer retention in this industry is to create a beer label design that consumers love and are bound to remember.
According to Nielsen’s study, for 66% of American craft beer buyers, the beer label is very or extremely important for getting them to notice the brand.
This article takes a deep dive into some of the world’s most unique and inventive beer label designs that will inspire you to go bold and make your brand stand out among the rest.
Beer Label Design Essentials: What You Need To Know Before You Begin
Before getting into designing the actual beer label, you need to define your brew’s branding. The three questions that will help you do this are:
What is your exact product? Is it a lager, ale or another kind of brew? Is it German, Czech or American? What makes this beer unique so that consumers would choose it over others? Knowing the answers to these burning questions is key for developing your beer brand’s personality that will inform what the beer label design should look like and what it should communicate to target buyers.
Who is your target audience/consumer? A beer label will communicate its message more effectively if it’s directed to a specific audience segment. Focus on meeting the needs of a smaller group of consumers. Is the beer directed at young, affluent people looking to socialize? Is it a craft beer for connoisseurs? Or is it designed specifically for concert goers?
How will consumers purchase your beer? Will your target customer go to a local shop to purchase your product or do they prefer ordering beer online? Are they more likely to a six-pack or purchase instead by a single bottle or can?
Once you’ve nailed down the answers to these questions, you’re ready for the next step: figuring out how to communicate your brand’s complex personality in a single glance.
4 Essential Beer Label Design Elements
Let’s break down the most basic elements of any beer label design.
Beer Label Design Element #1: Color(s)
Color is a design element that communicates brand personality and creates a specific emotional connection with the target audience. Different colors are known to evoke different emotions, which is why choosing a color for your beer label is such an important consideration.
Before choosing the color of your label, you should also consider the color of the actual beer and the color of the can or bottle. The three most commonly used colors for beer bottles are:
Green: This bottle color has become synonymous with high-quality beer and is very commonly associated with some of the most prominent beer makers such as Carlsberg and Heineken, which is why craft brewers seldom use it.
Brown: This color filters out the light to protect the beer and ensure its longevity and intended taste. Beers with more hops, which are susceptible to light, ordinarily use brown bottles.
Clear: These bottles allow the color of the beer to shine through and create a background for the label design. Best practices for clear bottles include creating a label color that either matches the beer color or contrasts it.
Colors also play a role in beer can label design, as a factor that affects the way consumers perceive the brand. Unlike beer bottles that come in three distinct colors, beer cans aren’t under such restrictions. This provides an even greater realm of design possibilities.
Many of the principles that apply to beer bottles also apply to cans. But to differentiate canned products on the market, beer makers often apply striking 360-degree designs that envelop the entire can and showcase a strong brand personality.
Beer Label Design Element #2: Shape And Size
Depending on your brand type and budget, you should also consider the shape and size of your beer label and whether it should consist of:
A traditional shape and size
Custom die cut to craft a specific shape, size or pattern
A separate label for the front, back and the neck
A label that wraps around the whole can or bottle
Standard paper or transparent background
Beer Label Design Element #3: Typography
Font is another design element that communicates the brand personality to the target audience. In the context of a beer label, certain typography will give your brand a specific feel: serif fonts typically provide a more classic and vintage feel, while sans-serif fonts are more contemporary.
When choosing a beer label font, it’s important to consider legibility. With your desired typography in mind, make sure it will be easy for your consumers to read and remember your brand name, the beer's ingredients and other notable info you want to include.
Beer Label Design Element #4: Imagery
Craft beer labels are typically more of an art form compared to the traditional labels that use one main color, a brand name in large letters and a simple logo.
Your target audience should dictate your brew’s imagery and style. If you’re making beer with an experimental flavor targeted at younger consumers, you will likley want a more off-beat label. Beer aimed at a more classy and upscale audience may require a more intricate label.
To figure out your imagery, ask yourself these questions:
What makes my beer brand unique?
Do we use specific ingredients that we should show on the label?
Is there something or someone we can incorporate into the label as a brewery mascot?
Do we use a specific brewing technique that we want to include in our label?
Can we create a wordplay on our name?
If you're looking for a packaging design company, we can help you find the right one, free of charge!
The time has finally come to reveal some seriously memorable and inspiring beer label designs. Let's take a look!
Beer Label Design Example #1: Goldhawk Ale
Aside from a very unique and memorable name, this beer brand has a strong label design that reflects its defining features, such as the brew's color and ingredients.
The front label does not use any text. Instead, there is only the bold, Art Deco-ish illustration of a hawk, against a transparent background. It sticks to a clear bottle so the beer’s striking amber hue shines through the minimalist design perfectly.
The golden pale ale has a stunning visual impact, giving the beer a very strong brand identity.
Beer Label Design Example #2: Skinner’s Ales
UK-headquartered beer producer, Skinner’s, has eight distinctive ales in its roster. They’ve also employed as many artists to create a unique design for each beer: one inspired by tattoo culture, others by publishing and newspaper artwork and so on.
Same as the previous entry on this list, Skinner’s beers use clear bottles that allow the hue of the ale to come to the forefront and create a well-rounded visual impact with the label.
Beer Label Design Example #3: Foreign Object’s New American Hoppy Ales
This brewery’s products bear exotic and exciting names such as The Color of Pomegranates, Saturn in Scorpio, Chaos Therapy and the delightfully existentialism-esque Willful Delusion of False Perception (!).
They all come with stunning beer can designs as well. Each boasts a watercolor design with hazy and smudgy colors, reminiscent of Impressionist paintings’ textures.
Each beer can expresses a distinct atmosphere, which, coupled with unique naming, creates an outstanding identity for greater craft market visibility.
Beer Label Design Example #4: Kill The Sun Ale
Another beer can on this list is Ex Novo Brewing’s Kill The Sun.
This type of beer exists in three forms – Classic, Mocha and Horchata. For each, the design team used a color-coding system to differentiate them.
The simple, dark minimalistic design complements the name, resulting in the matte black background and gold lettering. This also gives the packaging a rather premium, up-scale feel.
Beer Label Design Example #5: Bier Bier
A masterclass in minimalism, Bier Bier (“beer beer”) is a German brand that uses the tagline “No Name. Just Taste.” which sums up the brand philosophy behind this product.
With a label design to match, the brown-colored bottle features a simple, white label with just the word “bier” in striking, sans-serif typeface.
Bier beer won the Special Mention award at 2017’s German Awards, in the Packaging category.
Beer Label Design Example #6: Tee Tot Ale
This non-alcoholic beer brand is inspired by the straightedge subculture that renounces alcohol and the term “teetotalism” that also signifies complete personal abstinence from alcoholic drinks. (Hey – we didn’t say all of the beers on this list contained alcohol).
The brand also finds ground in the aesthetics of the game Tic-Tac-Toe. The label wraps up the entirety of the brown bottle and features the trademark Tic-Tac-Toe grid, with white “Xs” and “Os,” while the words “Tee Tot Ale” come in vibrant colors and thin sans-serif font.
Beer Label Design Example #7: Inka Premium Beer
Coming in three distinct shapes and colors that signify Earth, Moon and agriculture – important mythological aspects of the Incas – these handcrafted beer labels have a unique design that cleverly incorporates traditional patterns of this ancient culture.
The overall feel is that of minimalism, but what makes it special is that the label is all-white and non-colored – until the beer bottle is chilled. The hidden design then reveals the vibrant colors of red, blue or green, depending on the symbol on the label.
The brewery uses thermochromatic inks for the coloring of the label, which makes this unique little trick possible, lending great visibility and memorability to this beer brand.
6 Beer Label Designs Best Practices
Although the creative process is generally free and unrestrained, the business aspect of creating beer labels requires some general guidelines.
These are the six best practices to always follow when designing your own beer label.
Best Practice #1: Research
Keep your eye out for useful resources that report on trends in beer label and packaging design. These will help you stay on top of what makes a good beer label and give you tips on how to communicate your brew accurately to your ideal consumers.
Another way to keep afloat in that regard is to visit local breweries or bottle shops and look at their shelf assortment.
Best Practice #2: Focus On A Specific Aspect Of Your Beer Brand
Think about which of the following types of design you want to prioritize:
Beer style-centric label design: This label design style puts the beer type at the forefront, whether it’s a sour, ale, pilsner or any other.
Brewery-centric label design: This centers on the brewery’s brand identity.
Name-centric-label design: This type of label design puts the unique and memorable name at the forefront to set the product apart from others on the market.
Art-centric label design: This is the recommended approach if you are brewing a distinctly different type of beverage to what’s already out there. 71% of craft beer buyers like to try out new brands with bold packaging.
Make sure you decide on one approach only and stick to it when designing your beer label.
Best Practice #3: Consider The Retail Distribution
The beer industry is highly competitive and the market is very saturated. Retail stores display beer bottles on a limited shelf space, which is why it’s important that your beer label is easily noticed.
Achieve optimal brand visibility with vibrant, bold colors, interesting graphics, minimal elements, unique font and other underused elements. Your label should stand out in a vast sea of competitors.
Best Practice #4: Make Your Brand Cohesive
A cohesive visual language will set you apart from competitors and build trust with consumers.
When designing your label, you should consider all the elements of a brand and include them together into one package with a cohesive identity. This includes a bottle or can design and color, logo, label, box design, messaging and so on.
Best Practice #5: Be A Storyteller
Focusing on telling a story is very helpful if you're designing a label for your first brew and attempting to break into a competitive market.
Think about what your label should draw on: perhaps a period of history or folklore. Physical surroundings or a brand mascot.
Whatever you choose as your label’s leitmotif, create a story around it and tell a tale that will engage consumers and be a talking point for your brand.
Best Practice #6: Create A Label For Multiple Audiences
Your label design should be aimed at people of all walks of life, including different ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and races — those of drinking age, of course.
The bottom line is that while you should define your target audience, you should not design your label for one specific demographic. Think in wider terms.
Beer Label Design Takeaways
Beer label design consists of four core elements:
To get the most out of your beer’s label design in terms of brand visibility and consumer retention, follow these best practices:
Research label design trends
Focus on one specific aspect when designing a label: beer, brewery, type or art
Think about visibility on shop shelves
Make your brand cohesive
Tell a story
Communicate to a wide audience
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