Thesis 2Question: How has craft beer changed the beer branding industry in recent years? PrefaceIn the past one and a half years, my two friends and I have started up our own brewery. Apart from management, my role has been to undertake the design and marketing side of the business. This took a vast amount of research, preparation and groundwork. I had to come up with a design language for the company. Branding our beer labels, business cards, invoices, business plan, website, social media, letterhead templates, flyers, stickers, crowdfunding campaign bundles, merchandise, glasses and taglines was a thrilling but exhausting experience. Being in this position has taught me a great deal about how much there is to consider and how important and valuable design is within the beer industry. Therefore in my thesis I will discuss my personal research and findings on branding in the craft beer market by analysing trends, scandals and success stories. I will investigate how craft beer has influenced and changed the branding of established breweries. Introduction: The world is experiencing an explosion of craft beer. The movement started in the US and is widely spread in the UK now and is growing every year. 2002 was the year Gordon Brown introduced a progressive beer duty, which gave brewers a 50% tax deduction if they brewed less than 5.000hl a year. A hectolitre (hl) is 100 litres. This allowed innovation and freedom of brewing, which caused the start of the craft brewery movement. Since the early 2010’s craft breweries have properly taken off in England and are slowly but surely overtaking the beer market. UK craft beer value sales grew 23% in 2016, according to CGA Strategy figures for the 12 months to April 2017. Although overall pint sales in pubs have gone down in recent years, the craft beer market is booming. The consumer trend shows consumers are rather spending more money on fewer, but good quality products. Craft beer is a term used to describe beer made by hand by independent breweries. This crafted product is usually more experimental and against the norm of beers on offer by the big alcohol beverage industry companies. Craft beer breweries very much stand for quality over quantity. Craft breweries are popping up all over the world as interest rises. With over 92 active breweries, London is a dense and interesting market to look at. (SEMA Good Beer Guide) There are traditional, century old establishments as well as tiny breweries filling each neash market mashing along in railway arches and rustic old MOT garages. The craft beer revolution did not only take place on a taste level but also very much with the new era of beverage aesthetics. Beer now serves as a canvas for artists and creatives to showcase their imaginative designs. People respond with celebrating these in blogs, books, and even art exhibitions. Between 2015 and 2017 there has been the biggest shift in beer label design. Breweries and artists are using cans and bottles as a canvas to create revolutionary packaging designs. Seeing craft beers on tap is the norm for pub visitors today but how did we get there? Why are craft beers so successful and what influence has it had on the existing beer market? Marketing & branding: Packaging and design play the biggest roles in marketing of craft beer. The product remains in the packaging while it is being consumed and is seen by other people when drunk or carried around. The best advertisement of a beverage is it’s packaging. Striking branding falling in your eyes at the shop or even on social media and the internet. With such a wide selection of craft beers available the ‘fight for the throat’ often is decided through the brand personalities. (Southgate, Paul 1994) Beverages empower different personalities, that reflect the person consuming it. Brands within the craft beer market have very different personalities, which in some cases can be successful, in others fatal for a brand. One has to look into these personalities of craft beers to understand what makes craft beer so successful. ‘Thirsty Work’ is a book about 10 years of advertising the brand Heineken. It gives a personal perspective into creating one of the strongest beer brands to date. The book was published before the time of craft beer but it withholds some timeless statements, that are still relevant today.”There are (…) certain rules, certain comfortable conventions, certain boats you don’t rock, certain sacred cows you worship. All these have been blatantly ignored from the first commercial onwards.” (Mayle, Peter 1983) Disobeying of rules is a recurring phenomena, that has made some brands extremely successful. Brewdog is one of the first craft beer breweries from Great Britain. Founded in 2007, Brewdog is now worth £1.7 billion. It’s success can be linked to the enormous attention it has gotten in the press. They started off by selling the world’s strongest beer at 55% ABV in bottles that were made using dead squirrels. One of the founders, James Watt said that their “striking packaging is disrupting conventions and breaking taboos – just like the beer they hold within them.” (Henley, Jon 2016) He also called the brew “an audacious blend of eccentricity, artistry and rebellion”. Many people got upset over brewdog’s ‘shock tactics’ but it got their name out there and any press is good press for a small attention seeking business. The brewers launched several more marketing stunts such as driving a tank through the streets of Camden, employing a dwarf to petition parliament for the introduction of a two-thirds pint glass, which got approved) and brewing beer at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean. Their branding has always been quite simple, bold and colourful and set them apart from large breweries. The names that Brewdog gave their brews include ‘5AM Saint’, ‘Elvis Juice’, ‘Punk IPA’ and ‘Dead Pony Club’. Brewdog describes itself as s “postpunk, apocalyptic, motherfucker of a craft brewery”, that “bleeds craft beer”.(Henley, Jon 2016) These branding and marketing tactics paired with a good product, attracted attention, brewdog grew more and more successful and from then on marketing within the beer industry was going to change dramatically. More than 10 years on, It is being said that Brewdog, the mothership of craft breweries has ‘quietly joined the establishment’ (Evans, P. (2017)) by selling more and more equity to larger investment forms. Their product’s taste and their now iconic marketing tactics have secured them a place as the successful modern craft brewery. Branding & design trendsThe scene of artisanal and crafty breweries is buzzing with design, that is just as experimental and ever changing as the product itself. Every brewery wants to stand out and the designers communicating the product are getting creative in all directions. The idea of authenticity plays a big role in these artisanal products. The branding world is moving so fast, there are branding and package design trends emerging and dying off every month. Design trends within craft beer that have emerged and help categorising craft breweries in where they position themselves. Vintage design appeals to a wide audience and ties in with the traditional craftsmanship approach of brewing that many breweries play on. Industrial letterpressed aesthetics convey that ‘everything used to be better in the old days’. With graphics reminding of the old industries and design of that Zeitgeist it evokes nostalgia within us. Examples of this craft beer design trend can be seen on branding by Shiner Beers, Transmitter Brewing Co., Grevensteiner, The Kernel breweryOther breweries position themselves as luxurious and premium, as they want to communicate that they brew something very special not just next to mainstream breweries but within the craft beer market. There is always space for luxurious products in every market. Here the bottle itself already plays a big role, as these beers are often sold in 750ml wine-like bottles with elaborate closing mechanisms such as corks, swing tops and even wax dips. These products are clearly communicating value and justifying the price point. They celebrate the efforts gone into making the product and making the consumer feel special. Examples of this design trend can be recognised in brands like Meantime brewer, Orbit brewery and St. Stefanus. This craft beer branding trend has influenced large breweries to launch a selection of premium products like Cobra’s double fermented beer. Cobra is one of India’s biggest breweries. Another main trend is the hand drawn illustration style, that lots of small breweries use. This form of branding uses wacky, bright coloured graphics. Often hand drawn, these illustrations are entertaining and convey that the product inside is wilder and more experimental in oppose to a traditional brew. The artworks used are often actual pieces of elaborate art and give the brewery it’s own personality. Beavertown Brewery in London has a very recognisable design language in this style. Their graphic artist Nick Dwyer was working at the brewery tap part time when they started off and thanks to his signature illustrations of spacemen and skulls, Beavertown is one of the most recognisable craft breweries in the country. Mikkeler Brewing, Flying Dog brewery and Omnipollo also feature strong visuals in this field.Precision and minimalism is another trending style. Simple, clean design with small typefaces or logos and slabs of few but intense colours communicate the essence of beer, ripped from everything that may distract the purity and flavour. Designs often feature patterns, gradients and artworks, that make it stand out but not overwhelm the consumer with information and detail. Cloudwater brewing has managed a very successful execution of this style. They specialise in seasonal and limited edition special brews. Other examples include Commonwealth Brewing Co. and Vocation Brewery and Western Herd Brewing Co.Another trend is the grunge aesthetic, which is one of the most popular after Brewdog exploded all over the country. Deconstructivism, grunge, punk and grit are the themes of this trend. The breweries using branding like this clearly want to demonstrate their rebellious behavior towards the establishments (large scale breweries) and their products. Next to Brewdog, there are Halfcut and Backward Flag Brewing Co. Sometimes the old breweries just do what seems to work and rework their artworks to be ‘up to date’ as you can see on Fullers Honey Dew rebrand.The label and artwork is the biggest trigger in choosing a beer. After that the taste is still key but can’t your eyes taste too? The appeal of the branding will influence your opinion about a product. The freedom and wide range of creative styles can be hugely helpful for the success of the business but can also cause issues. Little Creatures is a brewery in Wales and their logo is a worn off teddy bear. They have illustrative, colourful designs on their product, especially on Cwtch, their flagship red ale. The independent complaints panel of the Portman Group (responsibility body for drinks producers in the UK) has upheld a complaint against the product as it appeals to underaged people and encourages immoderate consumption. The combination of company’s logo next to graffiti swirls of primary colours and the name ‘Tiny Rebel’ makes the 330ml cans look like a soda pop and appeal especially to children, so the complaint. Tiny Rebel has responded saying ” How the hell do you not appeal to under-18s?! There is no clear difference between what is and isn’t allowed, and that’s a major problem. It forces companies to be over-cautious in design, which is inherently limiting. Instead of designing something for what consumers would like, companies have to design bearing what the most prudish among us wouldn’t like.” Tiny Rebel has to change the design of the packaging, which cost them 5 months of work and £30.000 in damages. http://beertoday.co.uk/portman-group-tiny-rebel-1217/This has caused the industry to be more cautious in the world of the seemingly infinite design opportunities of beer branding. Sexism Every country has its own rules and laws on what is allowed to be shown on packaging of a product. Some countries are quite relaxed about it, which might not mean juristical consequences for daring designs but it can still cause a massive international backlash. Italian brewery Deep Beer released a beer named ‘Deep Throat’, which depicts a woman having a corn cob rammed down her throat. The beer was slashed on twitter by ‘Ladies that beer’, a beer enthusiast group for women, and has been internationally criticised for being offensive, wrong on so many levels and “the worst beer label ever”. Creative freedom should not be used to offend a gender, culture or anyone. Sexism in beer branding has become a widely discussed topic in the industry in the last couple of months of 2017. The beer industry used to be a male dominated club. Primarily men brewing and drinking beer in pubs and at home. The craft beer scene has made beer popular with a wider audience and many women are intrigued by the vast taste spectrum of new brews on offer and are getting involved in the beer industry. Just recently, head brewer at Wildcard Brewery, Jaega Wise was elected south-east director for the society of independent brewers (SIBA) The SIBA south-east region includes greater London and counts 150 brewery members. Wise has called out for a ban of sexist beer branding at beer festivals organised by SIBA or the campaign for real ale (CAMRA). Beers submitted to these competitions are not allowed to use sexist imagery of women or any non politically correct branding. Jeaga Wise said “This would quite quickly stop some of the smaller breweries from deciding to have a branding with some boobs on the front” This regulation will be set officially beginning 2018.Manchester based Brewery Cloudwater has been criticised for collaborating with American brewery J wakenfield and making a beer with a label showing a girl wearing only socks and underwear. After a social media ‘shit storm’, the branding was changed. Not just young, insensitive craft breweries have been accused to sexualise women on their products. Apart from sexualising women in TV ads, as Bud Light has done for years, some big breweries have been using branding that does not compile with today’s standards of equality. Castle Rock has just undergone a rebranding of their longest beer in production, the golden ale ‘Elsie Moe’. From 1998 until 2018 the beer was sold with a branding depicting Elsie Moe in a 1940’s pin up girl fashion. Following the ongoing debate about sexism in the beer industry, managing director Colin WIlde has announced “”It is time to acknowledge that the sexualised presentation of Elsie Mo is not accepted by a culture that strives for, and celebrates, equality.” Celebrating the women pilots of world war 2, Wilde comments “Elsie’s now in the pilot’s seat, where perhaps she should have been all along.” https://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Article/2018/01/22/Nottingham-brewery-rebrands-core-beer-in-response-to-sexism-concerns Social impact Sure, every new craft beer wants to stand out but the beers on the market today have completely turned the beer aesthetics on its head and pushed branded packaging to new levels. Breweries like Omnipollo in Sweden don’t use a logo on their bottled beers but make them into individual art pieces. The brewery is run by one brewer and one graphic designer, which proves the importance of design in craft beer. Each of their design would make for a great t-shirt or poster. It is essentially eye-candy and can deliver bold messages. One of their collaborative beers that Omnipollo and Buxton Brewery have made for ‘the rainbow challenge’ is a peanut butter & biscuit Imperial Stout. The name is ‘yellow belly’ but it is wrapped in a white piece of paper with two black dots, an immediate reminder of the ku klux klansman group. The idea behind it is that they got given the colour yellow as a theme for this beer and the main consensus behind that colour is cowardness. They ended up making a beer that is nowhere near yellow and is packed in the most hateful, cowardly-anonymous costume possible to address the right wing and fascism wind in Europe at this place of time. (https://www.buxtonbrewery.co.uk/beer/yellow-belly/) Because craft beers are getting so much attention, it has become a tool to address social issues to some. Another brewery is entirely named after a social cause. It’s called two fingers Brewing and as they quote “Two Fingers Brewing Co. is the only beer brand that gives back to the men that drink it, by giving all of its profits to Prostate Cancer UK.” (http://twofingersbrewing.co/) Their branding can be classified as an artisanal crafty style but it has a bold logo picturing two fingers supposedly entering a large black hole. This brewery was founded by 7 guys who wanted to make beer that wasn’t just good in taste but is good for men (their main costumers) everywhere. Instead of running a marathon to raise money and awareness, they created a beer brand. Now men can tackle social issues by doing what they already like doing: drinking beer. This is a good example of social design in branding. Brewdog, the big craft beer player has also launched a social project with a new brew called ‘make earth great again’. It is a beer shouting out ‘global warming does exist and is a problem’. The Saison brew, made with water from melting glaciers, is fermented at a higher temperature than any other beer type and Brewdog has sent a case to the White House reacting on Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate agreement. (Beeson, J. 2017) The humanistic acts of craft breweries have helped their brand image and large, established breweries have joined in the movement. Corona Mexico, the world’s largest brewery has responded to the 2017 earthquake in Mexico by renaming 3 million of their cans from ‘Corona Extra’ to ‘Mexico Extra’. All of the profits of these sold beers are being donated to help reconstruction efforts. The can also states the slogan “Siempre Hemos Podido”, which translates to “We Have Always Been Able”. http://marcommnews.com/corona-transforms-into-mexico-extra-for-a-limited-period-in-order-to-aid-earthquake-victims-in-mexico/Fullers brewery in Chiswick, one of the oldest London establishments has also gotten involved with a charitable cause. Since December 2016, 50p of every pint sold of ‘Wise Men’, a seasonal brew, is donated towards prostate cancer research. https://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Article/2017/12/07/Fuller-s-Wise-Men-charity-beer-returns Establishment reactions: Big drinks companies such as MillerCoors and AB inBEV watch the market very closely and want their part in the craft beer sector. Budweiser, owned by AB inBEV has proudly marketed itself anti craft beer and as a normal beer for the people. WIth a successful superbowl ad in 2015 but a huge brewery like Budweiser doesn’t need to worry too much about changing its image to appeal to craft beer lovers. Some microbreweries, however are being bought up by the establishments. Camden Brewery, arguably the most talked about case, was sold to AB inBEV after just 5 years of production for a staggering £85 million in 2015. The brand and image of the ‘ex-microbrewery’ played a big role in the price as it used to be one of the trendiest craft breweries in London at the time. By now the brewery has upgraded from a brewhouse able to brew 19.000hl a year to one with an annual capacity of 400.000hl. Camden ‘craft beers’ will now compete with standard beers like Stella and Fosters in pub spaces. Brewdog no longer offers Camden Brewery beers in their pubs as they do not buy beer from their direct competitors AB inBEV. (Davies, Rob 2016) Apart from buying into the craft beer scene by taking over existing breweries, some big players launched new ‘craft products’. The name and branding of making a ‘craft beer’ is all that counts here. The Guinness group has released the ’13 hop house lager’ in 2015. It is clearly marketed as a craft beer with a vintage, yet minimal aesthetic to it. It also does not include any statements of the Guinness heritage on its labels. It is of a more ‘crafty’ taste with the hops aroma dominating the flavour but nevertheless it is a product not of a classified ‘craft brewery’. Fullers brewery who brew the iconic ‘London Pride’ are a very old fashioned establishment and were probably hit quite hard by the wave of craft beer. In 2013 the company released the Frontier Lager and it’s branding at the time was quite different to Fullers traditional brews, it even states ‘small batch craft lager’ on the branding itself. By now many brews have gotten updated graphics to get a wider appeal next to craft beer labels in pubs. The name itself is quite interesting since ‘frontier’ is defined as ‘the part of a country that borders another country’, just like their beer might be right at the border with the craft beer world. On the official Fullers website they boldly claim that “We’ve never been afraid of innovation, and Frontier, our new wave craft lager, speaks volumes to our pioneering spirit. Our brewers have been on a quest to create a more refreshing, more characterful lager – and Frontier is the ground-breaking result.” https://www.fullers.co.uk/beer/explore-our-beers/frontier InBev, the biggest beverage company in the world is not just buying up craft breweries in bulk but is also investing in new products. It has recently teamed up with Vice, a media company focused on Millennials to launch a beer called ‘The Old Blue Last’. Named after a famous pub that Vice owns the brew is branded and marketed by Vice themselves. The product is described to ‘disrupt the category’ and is labelled as ‘a beer for drinking’ and supposedly tastes sour, salty with a hint of coriander. The labels are kept very clean and typography based on a shiny gold and silver background. Craft beer flavours put together by InBev and Vice. With a huge social media following and appeal to Millennials, Vice have made The Old Blue Last gain an immediate attention on social media and on the web. Craft beer has had such an impact on the beer industry that established breweries have no choice but to try and adapt and it is no surprise that big beer names are releasing ‘small batch brews’ and create new products with more sophisticated tastes and modern branding.conclusionThere is no doubt that craft beer has had a huge influence on the beer branding industry. Beer itself has undergone a change of personality and is often regarded as a valuable, hand made creation for consumption for anyone. Beer is more than just a drink. It defines cultures and has been a fundamental part of human life long before we started counting years. It is a beverage that brings people together and has helped humans survive over decades because it was often safer to drink than the water. Beer is having a much deserved comeback in terms of popularity and being the people’s drink has encouraged many to start brewing their own, as myself. I think craft beer has had a huge positive impact on our society. Not just the exploration of taste but also the variety and progression in design, branding and packaging. In terms of design, craft beer has definitely changed the beer branding industry for the better. Yes there have been blunders and issues including sexism in recent years but we learned from them and this has triggered advancing in gender equality in every industry. Established breweries have mixed up branding of some of their oldest running brews in order to not fall behind the exciting new beers on the market every day. Many beers will stay more or less the same, deeply rooted in their own tradition but craft beer has left its mark. It has given thousands of designers a canvas to showcase their designs and art and has woken up the big breweries to do something exciting and new with the reach they have. The opportunity for breweries to create social impact is huge and beer and its branding is being used as a tool of communication. Breweries have achieved a lot in terms of charitable and communicative impact thanks to the exploration of branding and packaging recently. Beer label design is an art for itself and craft beer having a large and ever growing audience, I am excited to see what is going to come next.