Mistakes Breweries are Making in Branding – Part 4

This will be an ongoing series of posts! Check back for other posts under the same title as new topics come up. I won’t pick on any particular brewery, and I don’t want to be overly negative, but I think starting with what’s wrong can help shed light on what might work better!

Part 1 – A logo is not a brand
Part 2 – Unusable logos
Part 3 – Who makes this beer?

Who is your designer?

A big problem I see regularly is a brewery’s branding and marketing efforts (labels, social media, ads, posters, and merchandise) all have radically different quality or visual styles. In most cases it’s because a brewery is using 3+ sources to create designs for their brand. Maybe they have an employee that has dabbled in Photoshop, a vendor that provides art services, then maybe a professional graphic designer for certain projects. It becomes very clear to customers that you have many different designers creating all sorts of random artwork.

This confuses the hell out of customers.

Not only confuses them, but greatly hurts your brand.

There’s a thing that is always taught to designers when it comes to showing a portfolio, and that is to only show your best stuff. Even if that is only 3 items. Essentially, the viewer is going to remember you from your worst design. You’re only as good as your worst design…at least in the viewers eyes.

Every item that crosses your customers eyes is saying something to them. It’s reinforcing a message. That’s through the literal text on the imagery, but also through visual perception. What message do you want to deliver, and how do you want to be remembered?

If you have a clear vision of what your brand is and how you represent that brand, you can potentially use more than one source for marketing, branding, and design work. If you’ve created key elements that connect your brand story and values to a visual representation, then any decent designer should be able to use those elements to create a new and cohesive design that represents your brand well. This can take foresight and a consistent higher level touch on your branding, something that a dedicated designer or creative director might do for a brand.

I think the idea of foresight is huge here.

When I create any branding work for a brewery, I want to look at how it will be implemented down the road. If we’re creating a can label, what happens if this becomes a series of beers? How can that label be extended to represent more products than that one beer? Same thing with posters, tap handles, and sell sheets. How do these all fit together and represent the brand? Often, when I create a new can label design, I will mock it up next to the existing cans to see how it fits in. I want to look ahead and behind at all of the existing brand visuals to make sure a new item fits well.

Having one good designer can be ideal in many ways, but not always essential. If you don’t have a very detailed or organized way of working, relying on a dedicated designer can be a huge help. No doubt you are slammed running your business, so a designer might help you take a load off from something you don’t want to pile on your plate. Either way, take a look back and forward to see all of your branding. Does everything out there represent your brand to the fullest and deliver the overall message you want?