What turns us on to a beer before we can taste it? Well, the price, name and reputation could have something to do with it. But what really makes or breaks a purchase decision is what the eyes can dissect. That is, the looks.
It’s the color, logo design, typographic finesse and overall graphic appeal that make a beer stand out. When was the last time you chose a boring bottle over a label with true pizzazz when snagging a strange new beer from the supermarket shelf? I didn’t think so.
That being said, below are eight of the most aesthetically appealing craft beer brands on the market today. Lackluster brands – take a hint.
Rogue’s simple but vivid use of color is highly effective and complements the clean, linear figures on each of their beer labels. Eccentric character illustrations and dichromatic color palettes highlight this brewery’s bottled beverages from afar.
The bright hues present on their beer labels tend to coincide with the name and variety of the respective brew. Experimental libations are often presented with equally unconventional designs, spouting Rogue’s bold brand personality.
What Rogue does best: Simple, high-contrast color schemes with big, clean graphic charm.
New York City’s Brooklyn Brewery has an ace in the hole with their brilliant bottling. Legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser is the mind behind Brooklyn’s logo and subsequent package designs. If you’re unfamiliar, he’s the same guy who crafted the I Love NY campaign for the Big Apple in the late 1970s.
These labels are adorned with glistening finishes and eye-catching patterns. Each design is molded around the whimsical, rounded form of the signature Brooklyn “B” and uses an array of striking color palettes to make the bottles pop off the shelf.
What Brooklyn Brewery does best: Sleek use of line and form, complementary color palettes and shiny label finishes.
With their bold, text-heavy beer labels, Great Divide makes fine use of typographic talent to present each of their concoctions. Capitalized lettering is well-placed to fill negative space and supplement the small, animated silhouettes underneath.
For a brewery that makes a point out of their high-ABV productions, they do well at making a statement through their labels. Following Great Divide’s widespread success and subsequent expansion, a 2008 redesign brought us the current line of bottle art, now worthy of the award-winning beer that it holds.
What Great Divide does best: Large, audacious text-centered design that fits right in with the company’s high-gravity brewing philosophies.
Sierra Nevada’s beers exemplify the mountainous environ that spawned them. The perennial lineup sports picturesque little landscapes nestled between the rustic logo and the brew’s designation. Others utilize a similar illustrative approach to work in fanciful characters and exotic creatures to the label.
They’re tight, whimsical and almost palpable in their characteristics. Each beer gets its own look that really gives the drinker-to-be an idea of what he or she is about to stick his or her face into.
What Sierra Nevada does best: Boasting the product’s rich origins to beautify their beers’ labels.
Ommegang is a Cooperstown, NY-based brewery specializing in Belgian ales. Their bottle designs tend to go for expressive old-timey scenes, each set in silhouette fashion (much like Great Divide’s aesthetic).
Every aspect of the Ommegang designs showcase a classy, vintage look; golds and silvers abound, and even the brewery’s decorative lion logo is reminiscent of an age-old European coat of arms. The neatly ordained graphic elements take precedence here, making these bottles fashionable from afar.
What Ommegang does best: Crafting an ornate, refined look for their brewery’s special old-world focus.
Loud, eccentric, sometimes even flamboyant: Southern Tier’s robust brand personality seeps through in their design. Their beer labeling is confident and down to earth, often giving people a real feel for what they’re going to be drinking. The lush label graphics on their seasonal and specialty beers do an unparalleled job of painting a delicious picture for consumers (such as the Pumking, Jahva, Choklat and Crème Brulee).
These designs are looser than some of the aforementioned, but the high contrast colors and popping fonts pull each bottle into an appealing and cohesive presentation.
What Southern Tier does best: Vibrant, rough-around-the-edges design that uses appetizing images to turn on first-time consumers.
The guys over at 21st Amendment do things a little differently. Their brews are released exclusively in cans (and on draught), so the looks are inherently much different. They stray far from the conventionally bland reds and blues we see on so many beer cans, instead portraying historical figures in dramatic cartoon form.
These designs speak to our fond familiarity with (but often embellished deviation from) well-known American history. It’s simultaneously a smart marketing move and attractive visual theme.
What 21st Amendment does best: Cleverly recreating characters we can identify with and adopting a sassy spin on well-known events in their designs.
Here’s a more chaotic approach to package design – but chaos isn’t always a bad thing. Like other breweries, Flying Dog still exhibits their brand’s logo (on the neck of each bottle), but the main label is encompassed by enthralling sketches from the strange and wonderful illustrator Ralph Steadman.
A former collaborator of crazed author and self-coined Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (a figure tied to the foundations of the brewery), Steadman creates his inked aberrations for each of Flying Dog’s varieties. Raw, raunchy and sometimes disturbing, the dog-derived creatures are seamlessly melded with spattered beer titles. This brewery is the quintessential example of well-branded graphic design that embodies the same devil-may-care attitude that they’re known for.
What Flying Dog does best: Expressive character illustrations that epitomize their brand’s punchy personality.
Whether you’re a beer brand or not, these well-designed drink receptacles reveal some highly effective ways to market a product and convey a brand’s personality. Creating a relevant and attractive logo for your brand’s product or service is the most straightforward way to communicate with consumers. Successfully doing so will make you stand out from the competition – much like an enticing beer bottle on a shelf.